By: Will Burchfield
Jim Caldwell was in no mood for debate following the Lions’ 20-15 loss to the Steelers on Sunday night.
The main topic of conversation at his post-game press conference was Detroit’s poor execution in the red zone. One of the first questions was about Dwayne Washington, who ran four times inside the Steelers’ five-yard line for a total of six yards and zero touchdowns.
A reporter asked why Washington — who was active for the first time since Week 2 — is the Lions’ power running back.
“Because he can run with power,” said Caldwell.
The reporter than asked why that duty isn’t handed to someone else.
“I think I just answered your question,” said Caldwell.
At this point, the reporter rephrased his question, specifically asking why Ameer Abdullah isn’t the team’s goal-line back.
“I answered your first question,” Caldwell began, before the reporter interjected and said, “Answer my second question.”
That didn’t sit well with Caldwell.
“Listen, listen, just calm down a little bit, will you? Take it easy. You OK? You alright? Did you just lose the game? Just calm down a little bit. You’re OK. You’re alright, you’re alright. Just calm down,” Caldwell said in a patronizing tone, almost as if he were addressing a child.
“But the situation is, that’s our back. That’s who we choose to run with. We think he’ll give us the best opportunity to do what we are trying to do down there in that situation, plain and simple.”
View the full exchange below, courtesy of ESPN.
Caldwell, whose questionable decisions in the red zone came back to bite the Lions, later deflected a question as to whether a lack of confidence in the power running game made him settle for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line in the fourth quarter with the Lions down by eight.
“The lack thereof? What’d you say? Did you say, ‘Lack’ or did you say, ‘Confidence?’ Answer that question,” Caldwell said.
The reporter — a different one, in this case — clarified he meant a lack of confidence.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought you were trying to say,” Caldwell said. “The fact of the matter is we have to be able to get it in, one way or another. We tried several different ways and we have to keep trying. I think we were capable, we just didn’t do it today. We just had a few too many of those situations where we didn’t come up with a touchdown.”
Though the Lions racked up 482 yards of offense, they gained just 10 yards on 16 plays in the red zone and failed to score a touchdown. What happened?
“Didn’t execute well enough,” said Caldwell. “Just missed here and there. Didn’t protect well enough down there and didn’t run the ball well enough down there. We just didn’t function very well in that area.”
Abdullah, who didn’t get a single touch in the red zone despite being the Lions’ lead back, said, “We’ve got to maximize our opportunities when we’re down there. Just very poor, very poor. Got to find a way to score.”
Asked how it feels to so often come up short in such a crucial area of the field, he said, “It’s annoying because, I mean, we’ve got a good kicker, but we’ve got a good offense too. We’ve got to score. We’ve got guys that can score. We’ve got guys who, if we put them in the right position, can make big plays for us down there. We’ve just got to find a way to do that.”