By Will Burchfield
The last-place Detroit Lions have lost three straight games and head coach Jim Caldwell is falling further and further out of favor with the team’s fan base.
For anyone hoping for a change at the helm, Caldwell has a simple message.
“That’s something I can’t control in that regard. All I can do is tell you that the same group of men knows how to get things turned around the right way. We have our players that are good enough to get it done. We’ve just got to do a better job,” he said.
The Lions are coming off a dispiriting 17-14 loss to the previously-winless Chicago Bears, one in which their offense looked sluggish and out of sync. In their prior defeat, a 34-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers, it was the defense that let them down. That the Lions have kept things close hasn’t made Caldwell feel any better.
“It still boils down to winning and losing. I’ve always believed that,” he said. “You can try and sugarcoat it and talk about positives and all that kind of stuff. We’re in this game to win, not to get close, not style points or anything of that nature. Our job is to win.
“I’m a guy that believes in results. (Our) results aren’t good, plain and simple. I’m not one to make any excuses or try and hide from facts, I’m more interested in whether or not we’re winning and losing. We’ve been losing as of late and that’s not good. That’s my responsibility.”
After Caldwell led the Lions to a 6-2 record over their final eight games in 2015, first-year general manager Bob Quinn decided to keep the coach on board. But many feel that Caldwell is on a short leash, with Quinn needing to see positive results to bring him back for another year. Caldwell’s contract runs through the 2017 season.
On Monday, Caldwell confirmed that he meets with Quinn every day, but kept the nature of their conversations private.
“What we talk about in terms of those meetings are things that we certainly don’t discuss publicly, but we cover the gamut,” Caldwell said.
When he was asked if the topic of job security has been broached, Caldwell again declined to elaborate.
“If it was I wouldn’t tell you,” he said. “You know that’s one of those things that we don’t worry about. My job is to coach this team and to get this team headed in the right direction, that’s key.”
Last year’s Lions stumbled out of the gate, losing six of their first seven games. This led to the firing of president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, all of whom were axed prior to Week 9. Caldwell was one of the few team leaders who survived the makeover, but once again the clock seems to be ticking on the embattled coach.
To snuff out the negativity, Caldwell needs to get the Lions back in the win column – and sooner rather than later. He is confident a turnaround is on the horizon.
“Certainly, yeah, there’s no question about it. I’m not in doubt about that, it’s just a matter of how quickly, you know? That’s the key. We need to get it done now. That’s what we’ve got to keep fighting for,” he said.