Finale still has ‘significance’ for Lions

Eric Coughlin
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Be it playoff position, a division title or trying to end a historic losing streak, over the past few years, there has usually been something on the line when the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers clash.

This meeting is a little different, as both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, leaving Week 17’s matchup essentially meaningless.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell doesn’t see it that way, though.

“This game, still, for us, has significance.”

The competitive nature of the players, something Caldwell thinks is overlooked, was cited for the reason.

“I’ve got a full locker room of highly, highly-competitive people, and they don’t care what we play, whether it’s cornhole or ping pong or whatever it might be. They compete at every single thing they do, and it will be no different in this game as well.”

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has had a strong season, but Caldwell wouldn’t single out one area that Stafford has improved in the most.

“We’ll do a summation next week and talk about some of those things, but in this particular case the numbers may tell you something,” Caldwell said.

Stafford worked with an unnamed personal quarterbacks coach this summer after years of resisting it, but Caldwell thinks the impact of that work is overstated.

“Oftentimes I think man takes too much credit for God’s handiwork. He had great games before we got here, and he’s had great games since we’ve been here, and he keeps getting better. And I think that’s because of the way he approaches everything. He’s always looking for an edge. He’s always trying to get better, and I think he gets results,” Caldwell said.

The Lions’ run game never got going this year, but they may have found something with rookie Tion Green, who had 43 yards on seven attempts for a 6.1 average with a 12-yard touchdown.

“Young guy, still got a long way to go, but I do think he’s making progress,” Caldwell said.

Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.