By Ashley Scoby

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell doubled down Thursday on his defense of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Lombardi has come under sharp criticism for his play-calling this season, as the Lions are now 23rd in the league in total offense and 30th in points per game.

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But Caldwell is sticking to his original reasoning for the offensive woes: lack of execution, not play-calling.

“From my vantage point, the problem is not what plays are being called, and so that’s window dressing,” Caldwell said. “I think when you make adjustments – and those kinds of adjustments happen sometimes in places, where people just cannot stand the pressure and all of a sudden, they make changes and then the next guy changes and you still have the same problems, and it’s someone else’s fault. But the fact of the matter is he is calling plays that should work and we’ve just had problems executing.”

The biggest mistakes Detroit made on Sunday in its 42-17 blowout loss to Arizona were turnovers: Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, Dan Orlovsky tossed his own pick, and both Ameer Abdullah and Golden Tate fumbled.

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Those six turnovers are the main reason why Caldwell said his team was embarrassed on Sunday. And turnover margin – not play-calling – is the biggest difference between losing and winning seasons, according to the head coach.

“Look at the facts, okay?” he said. “Look at the biggest determinant in winning and losing ball games, is the turnover ratio. … In 2014 and 2013 the biggest difference between those two years is turnover ratio, plain and simple. … And then you look at where we are right now and where we were at this time last year, the biggest difference is turnover ratio. … So the big thing is taking care of the football, giving ourselves an opportunity to get things going.”

The drastic difference in turnover ratios between the ’13 and ’14 seasons do align with Caldwell’s point. Two years ago, when the Lions went 7-9, they had a turnover ratio of minus-12. And last season, when Detroit went to the playoffs and finished with an 11-5 record, the turnover ratio was plus-7.

This year, that ratio is minus-6.

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“You take those six opportunities away, if we keep the ball in our hands, we’re getting ourselves in position to score,” Caldwell said. “It’s a little different contest at that particular time, so that’s the main issue. That’s the thing that we’ve got to get straightened out and get back going in the way that we know how, because we’ve done it before, and it’s extremely important.”