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Caldwell 'not worried' about evaluation by new Lions GM

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Jim Caldwell

Allen Park — Nearly every time Lions coach Jim Caldwell fields a question about his job security, he answers the same way.

"I approach it just like I do any other day that I coached in my life (since) 1978 when I first started coaching," he said Monday. "Any day could be my last day, so it's no different for me."

Now, as the Lions’ season draws to a close, and with the team searching for a new general manager that will ultimately determine his fate in Detroit, Caldwell is taking the same approach.

He doesn’t know what will happen, so the only thing he can do is his job.

Caldwell, as he said several times Monday, is only focused on preparing his team to win next Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

With the Lions searching for a new general manager, Caldwell's future in Detroit is in jeopardy after just two seasons. But as the Lions ready for their season finale, he deflected many questions about his standing with the franchise.

"I'm not worried about my evaluation," he said. "I don't evaluate myself; someone else does. All I'm worried about is winning. I'm worried about this particular ballgame coming up. That's my focus. Anything else, it's somebody else's problem."

But, does Caldwell think he's won enough to continue coaching the Lions in 2016?

"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I'm looking at right where I'm heading."

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And where Caldwell is heading is a typical week of preparation for an NFC North foe. What happens after that is anybody's guess.

Team president Rod Wood reaffirmed Sunday that the next GM will decide what happens with Caldwell. Although most new GMs like to bring in their own coach, there are some examples of teams retaining a coach, including the Carolina Panthers keeping Ron Rivera after hiring GM Dave Gettleman in 2013.

Even though this could be Caldwell's final game as Lions coach, he said nothing will change in his approach.

Caldwell led the Lions to an 11-5 finish and a postseason appearance in his first year. In his second, the Lions are 6-9, but their 1-7 start resulted in the dismissal of GM Martin Mayhew, president Tom Lewand and three assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

Lions players, though, have had Caldwell’s back all season.

“I think he’s the guy for the job,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “Why would you bring — it just doesn’t make sense to me with what he’s done thus far."

All told, Caldwell’s regular-season record with the Lions is 17-14, which is a strong two-year mark for the moribund franchise.

Ihedigbo said Caldwell has implemented a culture change in the locker room, something many guys discussed last year as the Lions made the postseason.

Being on the hot seat in such a short time frame is "the nature of the beast," according to Caldwell. As long as his future is unclear, the status of his assistants will remain unknown, too, but he said the other coaches are focused on the next game, too.

The Lions are 5-2 in the second half of the season, including a win Sunday over the 49ers, but Caldwell said he's not worried about if the recent results have helped his chances of staying in Detroit.

"I don't concern myself with defending myself or anything of that nature," he said. "I concern myself with trying to win."