Detroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (92) takes down Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski
November 23, 2015

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Jim Caldwell's demeanor rarely changed much when his team was losing game after game, so now that Detroit has won two in a row, he has nothing earth shattering to offer about how the Lions have become stronger defensively.

''Everybody thinks it's magic,'' the Detroit coach said. ''I think you guys look at it as if there's some huge thing that happened that all of a sudden catapulted this cataclysmic change, and the fact of the matter is, it isn't. It's just playing better football.''

The Lions have scored 18 points in each of their last two games, and they won both, beating Green Bay and then Oakland. Detroit is still at the bottom of the NFC North, and Caldwell's future remains uncertain amid a front office shakeup, but the Lions are at least feeling better about themselves.

''It's a great turnaround,'' cornerback Darius Slay said. ''We told ourselves, `We're just going to start over.' It was rough in the first eight weeks, now we're just turning the whole thing around - playing more aggressive defense, just playing and trusting each other and having more fun.''

Detroit still has problems offensively. The Lions have scored three touchdowns in the last two games, and one of them came after a long kickoff return. But the defense held off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, then shut down Oakland while allowing only 214 yards of offense by the Raiders.

The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh to free agency and have been without DeAndre Levy for most of this season, so the defense has taken a step back, but lately there have been some encouraging signs.

''Last year probably was one of the best years you can have in the NFL as a defense and just to see how it went this year, how it's been going, we've got too much pride,'' defensive end Jason Jones said.

The Lions (3-7) are still facing a potentially turbulent offseason. They're in the market for a new general manager after Martin Mayhew was fired, and it's not clear how solid Caldwell's status is. He took Detroit to the playoffs in his first season with the team, but this year has been a huge decline.

Caldwell batted away a question Monday about his job security and whether the recent wins might affect it.

''We do what we do,'' he said. ''What happens, happens.''

The Lions now have to prepare quickly for their Thanksgiving game against Philadelphia, a team that's also been disappointing this season but can pose problems with its unique offensive style.

''Schematically they're different,'' Caldwell said. ''Everybody else, you basically have a lot of carry-over. You don't have any carry-over with them.''

The Eagles impressed with their fast-paced offense in 2013 after coach Chip Kelly first took over, but now they look out of sorts. Philadelphia (4-6) is coming off a 45-17 loss to Tampa Bay in which the Eagles allowed 521 yards of offense.

Caldwell says he enjoys the shorter preparation window as a head coach, although he said assistants don't like it.

''As an assistant coach, you never feel like you have enough time even on a regular week,'' Caldwell said. ''As a head coach, you like it because guys can't come up with any really out-of-this-world schemes that takes up a lot more time. It really makes you focus. . It makes all of the guys that are game planning really focus and narrow it down and only get the things in that are extremely important.''



AP NFL website: and AP NFL Twitter feed:

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)