By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told Karsch and Anderson of 97.1 The Ticket that he has not watched the recent press conference in which Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton repeatedly referred to Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as “Donkey Kong Suh.”
Caldwell had, of course, been informed of the reference, but he declined to hear it or discuss it specifically on the radio.
“I’m really not that interested in it, to be honest with you, and for the most part, just like anything else, comments made by others are not anything that motivates us or fuels us or anything of that nature,” Caldwell said, “and in this particular case I’d certainly just want to reiterate that last week we had I think a young man say something about Calvin and him not having weaknesses and things of that nature. We just kind of let our play play for us. I’m not going to comment on it further.”
The coach said that he does not know whether other players or coaches around the league draw motivation from their opponent’s barbs in the weeks leading up to games, but in his experience, people concern themselves with getting better rather than talking smack – or responding to it.
“The guys that I’ve been around, teams that I’ve coached on, we’ve been motivated by things that are more of interest to us in terms of reaching our goals and certainly playing extremely well and focusing in on us and our task at hand,” Caldwell said, “rather than giving things a bunch of lip service.”
Suh, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, was described by Caldwell earlier this week as one of the unsung heroes of Monday night’s game. Defensive end George Johnson ended up with a sack and a half, and Caldwell agreed Suh’s presence helped Johnson get those big-time tackles.
“I think that’s accurate because one of the things that we point out and talk about all the time is that he is very rarely left alone to be handled by one guy,” Caldwell said. “They turn the protection toward him to get the center and a guard on him, most often, they’ll slide in that direction to wherever he’s located, and so what happens more often than not with those particular guys, is that once he gets two on him, then that means we have some one-on-one situations that occur.
“And when we do have those one-on-ones, we tell the guys that somebody’s got to win out of those one-on-one opportunities,” Caldwell added, “and our guys have been able to pressure the quarterback in those one-on-one opportunities, and we’ve gotten to get a sack or two as a result of it.”
The Lions and the Panthers kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday.