Septeber 9, 2016
What to expect from Lions
this season? Who knows?
By KEITH GAVE
If you’re the slightest bit curious about what to expect from the Detroit Lions, get in line right behind their coach.
“We’ll see,” Jim Caldwell said about his Calvin Johnson-less offense. “We have weapons. We’ve got guys we can throw the ball to. We’ve got a quarterback that’s been around and played.”
He also believes the team’s defense, widely expected to be the strength of the team in his third Lions season, and special teams will chip in too.
“There’s some games you’re going to win by doing maybe a better job on offense. Some games you’re going to win by doing a great job on defense and some games you’re going to win because of your special teams,” he said after practice Wednesday as his team prepared for Sunday’s NFL season-opener at Indianapolis. “You have to be able to adjust and adapt because this league is going to challenge you in every single area. They’re going to make you adapt.”
Can a team that has undergone a significant makeover in the off-season in the receiving corps as well as on the offensive line, stand up to one of the better teams in the league led by one of its best quarterbacks in Andrew Luck?
“There’s a lot of things you have to make certain you can adjust to,” Caldwell said. “Some of those things have to be learned as you go through as well. Your team changes quite a bit year to year. There are a lot of guys that were out there that weren’t with us last year that are going to be a real factor for us this year.”
One thing is certain: Caldwell won’t get caught up in how this year’s team measures up against other Lions clubs that have been largely disappointing over the past two decades. Wide receiver Golden Tate may be on a mission to remove the stigma of the “same old Lions,” but the coach isn’t going there, even if he shares the same sentiment.
“I don’t necessarily spend a whole lot of time talking about statements. Ask Golden (Tate) what he thought and what he thinks,” Caldwell said. “I think he’s fairly adept at making certain that you understand his point. My point is I’m not latching on to that particular statement because I think that this team is a different team.
“Every year the team changes. The players on the team change. Their mindset changes, and our job is to win. Forget about all the labels and all that kind of stuff. Let’s go out and win football games. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself.”
Speaking of winning football teams, Caldwell is returning to a city where he won a lot, including a Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator, on a team led by quarterback Peyton Manning. Caldwell succeeded the retiring Tony Dungy in 2009 and had one of the best debut seasons in NFL history, leading the team to 14 straight wins before finishing 14-2 (sitting out many of his best players on orders from General Manager Bill Polian in the final two games). In the next two seasons, Caldwell’s Colts went 10-6 and 2-14, and he was fired.
After two seasons in Baltimore as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, he was hired by Detroit in 2014. How has he changed since his days in Indy?
“In probably well over a thousand ways and I think that’s part of the difference in regard to my belief. I think every single day you’ve got to learn something,” he said. “Every single day you should learn. You should read. You should find something to challenge yourself, something to change in terms of maybe your approach.
“Hopefully I’ve changed a number of different ways. This game is about adapting and you have to adapt so many different ways in order to certainly be successful in this league.”
That said, he didn’t make the best of his opportunity in Indianapolis, and he knows that if his Lions don’t win more than they lose this season he’s likely to be shown the door again.
“This is a (league) where you have to win football games,” he said. “You don’t win football games, you’re subject to be fired. I’ve always believed that and not only that, you have a right to be (fired). That will never change. Don’t back away from it, that’s the nature of our business. Since I started coaching years ago I’ve always believed that’s indeed the case. We’ve got to do our part.”
In other words, will this edition of Caldwell’s Lions be more like the team that closed last season 6-2, or more like the one that opened 1-7?
Prediction: Colts 24, Lions 13
Betting odds: Lions are 6-point underdogs
Lions honor Northern Michigan prep coach
Congrats to Charlevoix High coach Ron Bindi, named by the Lions as the recipient of the 2016 Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan High School Football Coach of the Week Program. Bindi, in his 37th year in coaching and fourth as head coach at Charlevoix, led his Rayders to a
22-14 victory over Boyne City. Bindi has also been a head coach at Bellaire, reaching an 8-man football runner up berth in 2012, and U-D Jesuit, along with numerous assistant coaching positions during his career. Charlevoix, currently ranked No. 2 in Division 6, is 2-0 and travels to Mancelona to take on the Ironmen in a Northern Michigan Football League-Leaders Division game. Each week throughout the 2016 nine-week high school football regular season, one coach that best develops his players’ character, discipline, and football skill in addition to emphasizing player health and safety in their program, will be recognized for his commitment to the team, school, and community. The winner is selected by a panel of high school football media members.