Coach Jim Caldwell unsettled by Lions’ 15 penalties

By Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Detroit — Coach Jim Caldwell noted the Lions’ 15 penalties Friday night as an issue during his opening statement after a 13-12 exhibition win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Then he fielded four questions about the infractions that cost the Lions 131 yards.

“I’m concerned about it, yes. Fifteen is way too many,” he said after the first question.

After the second question, which asked Caldwell how he plans to correct the problem before the regular season begins, he opened up a bit more.

“It’s painful now, as a coach, and it’s one of those things that I think bothers you,” he said. “And you’ve got to get it straightened out because they’re preventable.”

The Lions had 11 penalties for 74 yards last week in Oakland, but the majority of them were defensive holding calls, which the NFL has emphasized during the exhibition games.

Friday, though, the Lions’ penalties ran the gamut. From holding to a facemask, a block in the back to unnecessary roughness, the flags kept flying, and the starters were responsible for nine penalties and 74 yards.

"That's the first thing we have to clean up — penalties and turnovers,” running back Reggie Bush said. The Lions also lost three turnovers.

“Those are things that'll get you beat. During the season, against good teams, those kind of games will get you beat, so that's something that we've got to correct and we have to pay attention to it.”

Penalties forced the Lions offense to need at least 20 yards to gain on three drives, and they didn’t convert first downs on any of them. Bush also had a 24-yard run called back after a holding by tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford had an intentional grounding penalty, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh earned a personal foul for roughing the passer.

“Any time the penalties are going in the upward direction, it’s not good,” Stafford said. “We’ve got to take care of those and play smarter football.”

Down to the back of the roster, safety Jerome Couplin had a 15-yard unnecessary roughness flag after going inadvertently helmet-to-helmet with wide receiver Allen Hurns. Couplin hopes the play doesn’t lead to a fine.

“I’m an undrafted free agent,” he said in the elevator on his way out of Ford Field. “I don’t have the money to pay it.”