Like many fans of the Detroit Lions, head coach Jim Caldwell didn’t envision this team playing so poorly to start the season.
However, unlike most anybody with a decent “football IQ”, Caldwell isn’t sure that his offense (specifically the putrid offensive line play) is the reason that Detroit is 0-5.
As for the latest loss, at home against Arizona on Sunday, Caldwell did acknowledge that six turnovers was the reason for the embarrassing downfall which included starting quarterback Matthew Stafford being benched.
If Caldwell thinks the only problem on offense is that they turn the ball over too often, he’s not showing a very high football IQ–the Lions offensive line is in shambles, they can’t run the football, and whichever quarterback is in the game doesn’t get much pass protection.
And although there seems to be no magical solution to fix this, it appears as though Caldwell is content with just trying to practice harder.
During Monday’s press conference, Caldwell was asked if he would consider making larger changes to the offense. He blamed the results of the poor offensive play, and not the cause:
“Not necessarily because I think the major things are turnovers. That’s one of the areas that you can see, it’s a tremendous difference in terms of how many times we’ve turned the ball over. In that particular game, it was six. I think if you cut that down, reduce your penalties, which we had far too many of, that it’s a little bit different game. But turnovers, penalties, they skew everything and, obviously, makes winning a lot tougher.”
Does the coach really believe that the offensive woes of this team were the six turnovers against the Cardinals?
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit sums up the Lion’s lack of offense perfectly:
“Anyone who has watched even one Lions game (and one game is enough, because all five have been the same in this regard) knows this team can’t run the ball. They try, they just can’t. Pass protection has been iffy as well. The common thread here, of course, is the offensive line.“
When asked about his team’s lack of urgency, Caldwell responded:
“You know, obviously, the most important thing is not getting the wins. Secondly, just in terms of turning the ball over, it’s something that we have had some control over. I think we were even before this game and then obviously with that six it skewed it somewhat, but we were heading in the right direction, I thought. But we’ve just got to reconfigure.”
He was asked what changes could be made to turn the season around. His answer:
“I think you have to look at them and you have to consult with your staff and sit down and do that, which we’ll do a little bit later on this afternoon and get with the players, make our determinations on what we want to adjust and change this evening and move forward.”
So which is it, Caldwell? The offense is obviously broken, and you don’t plan on making major changes, or are you going to “reconfigure”? It’s hard to send much more of a mixed message.
When the issue of the team “giving up” near the end of the Arizona game was approached, Caldwell again isn’t sure what he thinks.
During the post-game press conference, when asked if he felt that any of his players quit at any point of the game, his adamant one word answer was, “no.”
On Monday, he was again asked if he got 100% effort from his team. This time, he expanded on his original negative answer:
“Well, you know, across the board, the guys always give good effort. That’s one of the things that I think these guys do consistently. Was it 100 percent? I’d say no, not 100 percent. But I will tell you, typically our guys will fight and scratch and dig and those kinds of things. But oftentimes what happens to you, things get tough. Some things go bad, particularly in sequence, and you’ve got to be able to fight through it. We didn’t fight through it very well yesterday.”
So, no one gave up during the game, but they did not give 100% and did not “fight through”? That sounds an awful lot like quitting.
At least he was correct when he was asked who was tasked to shoulder the blame for there being no spark or explosiveness.
“It’s mine,” Caldwell said.
It’s hard to imagine a coach that is 0-5 to start the season, who has no plans of revamping his offense, has no plans of making coaching changes (“We’re not making any changes at this time in terms of coaches”, he said on Monday), and is to blame for his team giving-up will have much of a future.
The only questions are whether Mrs. Ford has Caldwell fired before the season ends, and whether Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Martin Mayhew gets the axe as well.