September 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has title thoughts dancing through team's head

Josh Katzenstein and Terry Foster on Lions season ...
Josh Katzenstein and Terry Foster on Lions season ...: Detroit News sportswriters discuss Lions season prospects

Allen Park -- Lions coach Jim Caldwell has repeatedly used the word "championship" since being hired in January, and in his first regular-season news conference Monday, Caldwell continued to talk about the Lions being contenders for the ultimate goal.

“I think we have the foundation to be champions, without question,” he said.

Caldwell has been an assistant coach on two Super Bowl teams, Indianapolis in 2006 and Baltimore in 2012, and after a question about the foundation of those teams, he made a point to spin the focus back to his current team.

However, there were some similarities between those two past champions, and he hopes the Lions can emulate what they did.

“The good teams look the same for the most part,” he said after noting the Lions’ leadership. “When it really boils down to it, they look the same. They can run the ball, they can stop the run, they don’t turn the ball over a whole lot, and they do a great job in terms of minimizing penalties.”

Caldwell said the Lions are still working on some of those aspects, especially the penalties, after having 25 combined the last two exhibition games. But he thinks this team can win now, and his players agree.

Left guard Rob Sims said he’s thought the Lions have had championship potential since he arrived in 2010, but the team has killed itself.

“We’ve all known that we’ve got something special here,” he said. “We have to put it on film, and we’ve got to finish.”

Running back Reggie Bush, who won a title with New Orleans in 2009, said the players don’t want to let Caldwell down.

“I think it begins with the head coach,” Bush said. “His whole approach to the game, to our team, is just on a different level than what we were at last year. He’s not a guy that yells, cusses, screams, but he still gets his point across and guys respect it.”

Caldwell is also self-aware, and he understands that he’ll be the one to credit or blame when the Lions’ season ends.

“I’m responsible for each and every little thing that goes on in this program, bar none,” he said. “Wins and losses, conduct, every single phase — offense, defense, special teams, it all runs through me. There’s not anything that I don’t have responsibility for that doesn’t fall upon my shoulders in that regard.”

'I think we have the foundation to be champions, without question,' Lions coach Jim Caldwell says. / Daniel Mears / Detroit News