Lions’ Caldwell focuses on Packers, not job status

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The only future Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell is concerned about is the team’s upcoming opponent, the Green Bay Packers.

Questions are circling about Caldwell’s status following the Lions’ elimination from the playoffs with Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the coach deflected questions about the job.

“Nothing has changed from what I told you on Sunday, and it is what it is,” Caldwell said Tuesday. “But, everybody gets evaluated at the end of the year. Everybody, players, coaches, scheme, everything. That’s part of the business.”

And while Sunday’s season finale carries no playoff implications, for either team, Caldwell rejected the notion the game is meaningless.

“It’s an opportunity for our guys to get better,” Caldwell said. “We have 16 opportunities and you can’t take them for granted. There’s a phrase in the Bible that says, ‘Lack no zeal in your work.’ Our guys are professionals. They’ll go out there with the same kind of attitude that they’ve had. We have a lot of character on our team.

“There’s been a lot of situations throughout the year we’ve been behind, had to fight to comeback,” Caldwell said. There’s no quit, no give-up in this group. We anticipate that will be exactly the same going into this last game. That’s important for us. You don’t know what’s going to happen the next day, the next year, so you better give it your absolute best. I think our guys will be committed to that.”

Caldwell also rebuffed overarching questions, declining to answer his biggest regrets from this year until after the Packers game, or share what he’s proud of from his four-year stint with the organization.

The one concession he was willing to make, consistent with what he’s always said, is success in the NFL is strictly determined by a team’s record, nothing more, nothing less.

“Now, we’ve come back and we’ve won a bunch obviously in some of those similar situations, but not enough,” he said. “And that’s not what football is. Football is not a game of perfect, and you’re gonna have inconsistencies. But when you have enough of them that keep you from putting points on the board or stopping the opponent, then obviously you’re gonna be in the situation we’re in now, where we’re just average, at best.”

With a win Sunday, the Lions will finish above .500 for the third time in Caldwell’s four seasons. He’s led the team to a 35-28 regular-season record during his tenure, qualifying for the postseason twice.