By: Will Burchfield
The Lions have lost three straight.
They were involved in an end-of-game skirmish on Sunday night for which several players, including the ejected A’Shaun Robinson, are likely to face discipline.
Jim Caldwell got into it with a reporter in his post-game press conference and Eric Ebron questioned the “intensity” of the offense.
It’s enough to wonder whether Caldwell, who typically maintains an ironclad grip on his team, is losing control.
“No, I 100 percent disagree with that,” guard T.J. Lang told the Valenti Show on 97.1 The Ticket. “There’s never any division between the coaching ranks and the players. Everybody’s in it together. It’s never you come in on Monday and the coaches (say), ‘You players need to be better.’ It’s always, ‘Hey, what can we all do to contribute to getting better as a football team?’ And that starts with the head coach.”
Lang said Caldwell’s even-keeled demeanor trickles down to the players. Specifically, they don’t overreact to success or failure.
“We always understand that you just have to keep your chin up and get back to work,” Lang said.
He added it’s “absolute nonsense” to suggest Caldwell has lost control of the locker room.
Is it possible, though, that Caldwell has too much influence over his players? There’s something to be said for staying level-headed, but Caldwell’s overt lack of emotion can sometimes feel detrimental.
Does it sap his players of urgency?
“No, I don’t think so. I think most of that is just in the preparation phase, never getting too high, never getting too low,” said Lang. “I think the focus is always there, though. We’ve never had a lack of effort. The past couple weeks especially has just been a bigger lack of execution at critical times in the football game. You take that responsibility upon your shoulders as players.”
Lions fans are familiar with Caldwell’s stoic gaze on the sideline. He hardly batted an eye when he learned his team had lost by virtue of an overturned touchdown and a 10-second runoff earlier this season. Lang himself said he’s never heard Caldwell curse, but added the coach is looser when he’s not in the public eye.
“He gets fired up on the sideline. Obviously, I think he’s a different person when he’s in front of the media and cameras than when he’s behind closed doors with the football team. What you say behind closed doors remains private, that’s for the team and the team only. He does show emotion. He gets riled up every now and then,” said Lang.
Part of the reason Lang signed with the Lions in the offseason was because he heard positive things about the team’s head coach. So far, Caldwell has lived up to the billing.
“He’s a very passionate guy about our team, and you appreciate that as a player. He’s a guy who’s in it stride by stride with the players, man, and he’s a guy that the guys want to go to war for,” said Lang.