By: Will Burchfield
Despite leading the Lions to the playoffs for the second time in his three seasons as head coach, Jim Caldwell faces an uncertain future in Detroit.
But he isn’t thinking past this weekend.
“You know what, it’s not about me. I’m more interested in this team and that focus,” Caldwell said on Tuesday. “Our business is always skepticism and those kinds of things. It’s a challenging business, that’s what makes it fun. It’s not for the faint of heart. You better be willing to take on challenges and understand that you’re expected to win.”
Caldwell has compiled a 27-21 record over three seasons on the Lions’ sideline. His contract runs through the 2018 season, but it remains to be seen if first-year general manager Bob Quinn will stick with Caldwell moving forward.
It’s been suggested that Quinn will bring in a coach of his own choosing if the Lions flame out in the playoffs. They open play on Saturday night in Seattle.
As for his doubters and critics, Caldwell said he isn’t listening.
“I’m not aware of what you’re referring to or anything of that nature, but what I am aware of is that we’ve got a game to play,” he said.” We’re one of the 12 teams still playing. I think it was probably about a 14 percent (chance) of us getting here after starting where we started.”
The Lions began the season 1-3, but won eight of their next nine games to re-inigte their playoff hopes. That surge was enough to offset an 0-3 finish and help the Lions claim the second NFC wild card.
“I think we have a team that’s dedicated, that’s tough, that’s smart, that plays extremely hard and we’ve got a chance,” Caldwell said. “That’s the thing that I think oftentimes people look at and say, ‘Hey, you know, you hadn’t played as well toward the end,’ but we’ve got a chance.”
Caldwell said he and Quinn talk about “50 times a day,” but not necessarily in regard to his long-term future with the organization.
“We talk about one thing and one thing only and that’s trying to get ourselves in position to win that particular week and that’s what we do constantly,” Caldwell said. “Trying to improve the roster, get us in great shape, those kinds of things.”
As to whether or not the front office has assured him he’ll be back next season, Caldwell said, “I wouldn’t tell you if they did because I’m not focused in on that.”
Either way, the coach said it’s not hard to avoid thinking about his job security.
“Very simple actually. Simply because of the fact that since 1978, when I first started coaching, we coached on one year contracts back in those days,” Caldwell recalled. “Nothing was ever promised to you. I’ve always been in that mode.
“I mentioned this and guys will ask the same question and I answer them pretty much the same way. But I think it was (San Diego’s) Marty Schottenheimer who got fired at 14-2 (in 2007). That should tell you the whole story about our business, right? That’s the way it is. So why worry about it? Why worry about things you can’t control? What you can control is how you prepare, how you focus, how you move forward. We’ve got a game to win, plain and simple.”