Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell spent much of Tuesday answering questions about his job security. On Wednesday, the team announced that he’ll return as coach next season. Funny how that works.
And funny that the Lions are back in the postseason and Caldwell has a record with the Lions of 27-21 and he’s having to answer questions about his job heading into the game Saturday night at the Seattle Seahawks. Of course, Caldwell’s Lions lost their final three down the stretch and coughed away the division to the Green Bay Packers. Had the Washington Redskins not shot themselves in the foot in losing to the New York Giants in what was a meaningless game for them, perhaps we’re having a different conversation here.
Something seems to happen to Caldwell in Year 3 of his stay as head coach. He led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl his first year and lost. A 10-6 season followed, but when the Colts fell to 2-14 in his third season the Colts couldn’t wait to get rid of the guy. Caldwell led the Lions to the playoffs in his first year with the Lions, but fell off to 7-9 before rebounding to 9-7 this season.
And in between the Lions’ 0-5 start in 2015 and their three-game slide to finish this season, the team was a hearty 16-7 — and more than half of those games were without the retired Calvin Johnson. Isn’t that worth something?
The Lions knew they had to say something on Caldwell Wednesday after the focus on his job on Tuesday, and yet we suspect that Caldwell himself had to ask someone above him to make that move. We understand that new GM Bob Quinn did not hire Caldwell and might seek to bring in his own selection one day, and as far as we know Caldwell’s current contract runs through next season. (Caldwell wouldn’t comment on whether he has since signed an extension, even for a year, past that.)
“I want to say obviously I’m appreciative, thankful” Caldwell said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. “… I’m not going to talk about when discussions happened, if there were discussions. I’m not going to talk about status of our staff or whatever that might be because as I said yesterday, the focus is still on this team. It’s about getting our guys ready.”
It all makes sense and yet it doesn’t. The Lions actually have a decent chance to win a road playoff game, even in Seattle, where few teams win. Matthew Stafford will be going against a Seahawks secondary that hasn’t been the same without Earl Thomas, and if the Lions win that three-game losing streak will feel like it happened months ago.
But the fact that Caldwell appeared to be on the very warm seat before his job status was cleared up was quite surprising and telling.
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