By Ashley Scoby
The Lions are calling the right plays; they’re just not running them correctly, according to head coach Jim Caldwell.
Amidst fans pushing for Caldwell to take play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Caldwell said that he has not given thought to making that change. And to him, play-calling has nothing to do with Detroit’s early offensive struggles (27th in the league in total yards, tied for 23rd in points).
“What happens is people want to oftentimes blame a play-caller when things go wrong and in this league, coordinators take the brunt of all of that kind of criticism – coordinators and quarterbacks,” Caldwell said. “If things aren’t going well, those are the ones that everybody sort of jumps on immediately and really it still boils down to I believe in Joe and believe what he’s doing and how we’re going about it. And he works at it. He knows his craft, and the thing is, it’s an execution thing.”
The Lions are averaging 305 yards per game, including only 45 on the ground (which is last in the league). And the team has taken heat for not taking deep shots downfield, not using star receiver Calvin Johnson enough and two two-point conversion plays that involved handing the ball off to Joique Bell (stuffed both times).
The running backs haven’t been able to get anything going (Bell is averaging 1.1 yards per carry), and fans have also called for the team to give the ball to rookie Ameer Abdullah more.
Adding fuel to the fire, Broncos safety David Bruton Jr. said that he knew what play was coming when he picked off Stafford on Sunday. That was Stafford’s second interception of the night, and he has five in the first three games of the season.
According to Caldwell, the scheme Detroit wants to use won’t change – the players just have to carry out that scheme better. The difference between a high-scoring game and low-scoring game, he said, isn’t the play calls used in that game, but rather in how the players are able to execute what is called.
“I mean, you tell me what’s the difference between a game where we score, that we move the ball and score well, and a game that we didn’t score very well, but yet the basic package might not exactly be the same, but I think it’s certainly in line with what we want to do to attack particular teams,” Caldwell said. “The difference is execution. That’s the difference is being able to execute, doing those things right. If everybody was doing things the right way and teams were just shutting us down, everybody would have a little bit of different feeling about that, but that’s not the case. We got to execute better, and I believe we will.”