Lions coach Caldwell sticking with Lombardi to call plays
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell had to look back a ways to point out how well his winless team was doing on offense. Back to when games didn't count.
''I think during the preseason we were humming along pretty well,'' Caldwell said Monday. ''Obviously, the first half of the San Diego game we were humming along pretty well. We've got to get back to that which I think we can do.''
Since leading the Chargers 21-3 midway through the second quarter in Week 1, the Lions have scored five touchdowns in 10 quarters and two of those scores were late in games against teams with double-digit leads.
Will Caldwell take play-calling duties away from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi?
''Short answer. No,'' Caldwell said.
It doesn't seem likely that Detroit (0-3) will be able to bounce back quickly on offense, either. The Lions travel to play the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks next Monday night, then return to host the high-scoring, NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals after a short week of preparation.
Detroit has run for an NFL-low 135 yards and isn't doing much better through the air. While Matthew Stafford does rank in the middle of the pack in yards passing (814) and TD passes (five), he has thrown five interceptions to rank among league leaders and his passer rating is among the worst.
Against the Broncos, he threw two interceptions for the second time this year. He also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter when he had at least one chance to throw the ball away before getting hit in Sunday night's 24-12 loss to Denver.
''Penalties hurt us. I had turnovers that hurt us,'' Stafford said. ''You correct some of those things, you know, we play a whole lot better.''
The Lions are doing a better job of getting the ball to receiver Calvin Johnson, but it isn't changing their results.
Johnson has caught 18 passes for 160 yards in the past two games after he had just two receptions for 39 yards in the opener. He hasn't, though, gained more than 28 yards on a reception this season.
Stafford was trying to throw a deep ball to Johnson late in the game against the Broncos when safety David Bruton Jr. dropped into a zone and got his right hand onto the pass, tipping it to himself for an interception
''I wish I could have thrown it six inches higher,'' Stafford said. ''Maybe we have a catch for a first down.''
And maybe if the banged-up offensive line could open a hole for the running backs, there could be some balance on offense.
Ameer Abdullah has shown flashes of promise, running for 82 yards and a score on 21 attempts, but Caldwell does not quite seem ready to play the rookie more in place of veteran Joique Bell, who doesn't appear to be fully recovered from Achilles tendon and knee injuries. Bell is barely averaging more than 1 yard per attempt, running for just 22 yards on 20 carries with a long of 7.
Caldwell refused to agree with a reporter who suggested Bell looks slow.
''Like any other position it's not always on him,'' he said. ''He can't create his own opportunities sometimes.''
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