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Can Jim Caldwell help Matthew Stafford hit next level?

After guiding Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco to the game's greatest heights, Jim Caldwell has been hired by the Detroit Lions to do the same for young Matthew Stafford.

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Caldwell immediately impressed the Lions earlier this month with his decision to break down Stafford's 2013 game film before sitting down for an interview. Along the way, he won over the young quarterback, but now Caldwell must hold Stafford accountable for his up-and-down play.

Asked this month if he'd be willing to work with a passing coach, Stafford told reporters: "Probably not."

Those days are over. Gone is Jim Schwartz and his laissez-faire approach to Stafford's wayward mechanics. Caldwell has been hired because Detroit's braintrust wants a hands-on coach to guide its quarterback's career arc -- and with it the fate of the Lions.

It's not a production issue with Stafford, never has been. He offers immense physical talent and three consecutive seasons with 4,500-plus passing yards. He's the primary reason the Lions job was hoisted up as the league's most attractive opening, but Stafford also has plenty to do with Detroit melting down the stretch in the NFC North in 2013.

With a completion rate sitting barely above 50 percent over his final eight starts of the season, Stafford needs a helping hand. Caldwell's resume speaks for itself after the years he spent tutoring Peyton Manning and the remarkable fix-it job he did with the Baltimore Ravens one season ago.

Caldwell has specialized in taking ready-made offenses to the mountaintop. Guiding Stafford anywhere else will be viewed as a failure.

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