Foster: Caldwell needs to start calling Lions' plays

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Jim Caldwell is the breath of fresh air the Lions needed when they hired him before the 2014 season.

A year later, he's in the spotlight again.

This time, he needs to assert his leadership and take over the offensive playcalling to jump-start an offense that has helped, in part, lead to an 0-3 start.

This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to the winless start. Even when the Lions went 11-5 last season, the offensive was sluggish.

This is about an inconsistent offense getting worse.

"The short answer ... No," Caldwell said Monday about the possibility of taking over playcalling duties from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

What about the long answer?

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"I will give you my short answer," Caldwell said.

But consider the numbers:

■The Lions are 27th in total offense (305 yards) and tied for 22nd in scoring (18.7 points). Last season, they were 19th in total offense (340.8) and 22nd in scoring (20.1).

■They are 32nd in rushing (45.0) and yards per carry (2.6). Last year, they were 28th in both categories (88.9 rushing yards, 3.6 per carry).

This team needs a shock to its system.

It's 0-3 heading into to the road for a meeting with the Super Bowl-contending Seahawks next Monday followed by a home game against the high-powered Cardinals.

This team is looking at 0-5 — 1-4 at best — before getting a breather against the dismal Bears at home.

Proven results

But the Lions can't wait that long to do something.

Caldwell can be that shot in the arm. And he's taken over in a pinch before.

He took over the Ravens offense late in 2012, and saw them average 31 points and 414 yards during a run to the Super Bowl.

The following year, however, the Ravens finished 29th in total offense, 25th in scoring and last in yards per attempt.

To be honest, Caldwell might not be able to change things.

It's difficult to pinpoint what's more annoying — Lombardi's play-calling or the poor play of the offensive line and anemic running attack?

You can even look at Calvin Johnson, who either doesn't get a chance to make big plays or can't.

The bottom line is something needs to change.

Statement time

Caldwell can change the culture again and make a bold statement the same old way is not acceptable.

Guys came here and believed because of Caldwell, not Lombardi. It is time to send a statement.

"There are a lot of things I see in terms of positives," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of guys playing hard. The effort is unbelievable. … That is not to say our effort is 100 percent perfect, but we've got guys who are working at it.

"I do know this it is certainly after three games if we just keep working and keep working at it. It is a tough time right now, but this can make you a pretty good football team."

Nothing, however, will happen unless there's a change in the playcalling.