Jim Caldwell awaits word on fate: 'I'm still working'

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell leaves the field after a 35-11 win over the Packers ends the season on a high note and a winning record, 9-7. With the Lions missing the playoffs, though, will Caldwell be back next season?

Detroit – Earlier this week, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell played it coy about his job status, telling reporters if he knew anything about his future he wouldn’t tell them. But Sunday, after a 35-11 victory over Green Bay in the season finale, there was a greater sense of uncertainty.

Asked if reporters should expect a standard news conference on Monday as he walked off the podium following Sunday’s game, Caldwell shrugged. 
“I have no idea,” Caldwell said.

The players will clean out their lockers on Monday and head off to the offseason. It remains unclear whether they will do so knowing they will have a new coach in 2018.

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Caldwell acknowledged he doesn’t know when he’ll meet with general manager Bob Quinn, but until he does, it will be business as usual.

“I’m still working today,” Caldwell said. “I’m still working. If something had changed, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Caldwell’s focus, on New Year’s Eve, was to spend it with his children and grandchildren in town for the holidays.

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“You see these three grandsons I have, and a fourth godson over there, and my kids?” Caldwell said. “I think we’ve got a new year coming up and all we’re going to do is go home, see if we can find some black-eyed peas and eat and have a great time with one another. That’s going to be our focus.

That’s where we are.”

Multiple Lions players said there was no extra motivation to win Sunday’s finale for Caldwell, but each of them expressed hope the coach would be retained.

“I love Jim Caldwell,” defensive end Ziggy Ansah said. “No doubt about that. He’s a great coach. He doesn’t only teach us to be football players, he teaches us how to be responsible men. It’s not all about football. He made us understand people go through tough times, tougher than this. People have been going through tough problems, battling and fighting.

“Jim is a great guy and I wouldn’t trade him for nobody else.”

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Wide receiver Golden Tate, who had a 71-yard touchdown in the victory and finished the season with 91 catches, his fourth straight with at least 90 receptions, struggled to envision playing for anyone else.

“For us to be in a situation where we don’t know if our head coach is going to have a job, kind of digs at me because you see coach Caldwell as a mentor, as that next dad you have,” Tate said. “You don’t want to upset him or disappoint him. A few players, that if we did better this year, maybe this is not a topic of discussion.”

Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis, the team’s first-round pick, said regardless of what happens, Caldwell will go down as one of his favorite coaches.

“I really appreciate everything he brings to the table and he’s been able to teach us as a team,” Davis said. “There’s definitely a lot of things I’ll carry throughout my career that I picked up from him.”