Caldwell: Lombardi is still offensive play caller

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Monday he has not considered taking over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

The Lions fell to 0-3 with a 24-12 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at Ford Field and currently rank 27th in total offense, 32nd in rushing and tied for 23rd in scoring.

After providing the short answer of "no" when asked about phasing Lombardi out, Caldwell declined to expand.

"I'm giving you the short answer only today," he said.

Under Lombardi, who's in his second season with the Lions and as an NFL coordinator, the Lions have had an incredibly conservative attack. Calvin Johnson's 25-yard catch Sunday was the only ball thrown to him that's traveled 20-plus yards in the air this season.

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After the game, Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby said the defense knew what was coming, but despite the apparent predictability of the plays, Caldwell said execution remains the biggest issue.

"It takes work," Caldwell said of improving the offense. "It doesn't come easy all the time, particularly when it's not just one issue. There's a number of different things that are going on, and it's a number of different people that are involved in that."

The offensive line has been woeful, but the Lions have done little to account for the blocking issues. Caldwell said the team must focus on correcting the problems, but for now, the play caller is not one who will change.

"We've got a lot of time left," he said. "Everybody thinks it's an easy fix; it's not an easy fix. It's not that simple. It takes work, and I think we're on the right track. I just think that obviously we're just kind of missing just a little bit here and there, which is enough to kind of slow us down."