By Will Burchfield
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – For all the debate as to whether or not the Lions should bring back Jim Caldwell next season, the sentiment is pretty clear among the players.
Caldwell’s their guy.
And no one personifies that loyalty better than cornerback Darius Slay.
“I love playing for him,” Slay said on Tuesday, closing his eyes, smiling and tilting his head toward the ceiling. “He’s the best coach.
“I love him.”
Despite guiding the Lions to the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons, Caldwell faces an uncertain future in Detroit. He’s frequently questioned for his on-field decision-making, and it’s been suggested that first-year general manager Bob Quinn will bring in a coach of his own choosing if the Lions don’t make some noise in the playoffs.
Still, there’s no doubt Caldwell has the backing of the locker room.
“He’s all about the players,” Slay said. “He takes care of us well, man. Great coach. Got the best powerful words I be hearing. He teaches more, like, manly stuff than football stuff, even though his job is football. But he brings it to the football world, the manly part. Makes you feel grown.”
Asked if he feels Caldwell has made him a better person, Slay responded without hesitation.
“Oh yeah, way better person. But with him doing that, he brought a lot of great people around me to make a better person too, like Glover (Quin), guys like Tavon (Wilson), leaders, D.C. (Don Carey). Being around them you can only change your attitude, so he brings in good, quality guys to learn from too.”
Slay has especially benefited from his relationship with Quin, who plays beside him on the field and sits next to him in the locker room. The veteran holds the youngster to a sky-high standard, and Slay is endlessly motivated to meet it.
Earlier on Tuesday, quarterback Matthew Stafford offered Caldwell an endorsement of his own.
“I think he’s a heck of a coach,” Stafford said. “I enjoy playing for him.”
“I think everybody in our locker room enjoys playing for him. He’s an honest guy, an upfront guy. As far as how he is, that’s kind of one of the fun parts of being a part of this team is I get to know that and you guys don’t — and probably going to keep it that way,” Stafford added, with a chuckle.
Asked about his job security on Tuesday, Caldwell preferred to keep the focus on the team. The Lions are preparing to visit the Seahawks on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
“You know what, it’s not about me. I’m more interested in this team and that focus,” Caldwell. “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.”