Jim Caldwell stays calm through highs and lows with Lions
DETROIT (AP) Jim Caldwell, an even-keeled, well-read coach, has helped the Detroit Lions bounce back within games this season and from a slow start this year to put the franchise in a rare position.
The Lions (8-4) have a two-game lead in the NFC North, giving them a good opportunity to win a division title for the first time since 1993. They hired a rookie general manager after last season's 7-9 finish, but Bob Quinn chose to keep Caldwell instead of hiring his own coach to begin a new era.
It looks like that was the right move.
Detroit has rallied from seven fourth-quarter deficits to win games, showing its players are cool under pressure and resilient, just like their coach.
Caldwell's choice of words, when speaking to players and the public, come from an array of sources as he tries to teach people about football and life. He shares advice from Chinese proverbs and Jim Collins' books, including the concept of ''productive paranoia,'' as quarterback Matthew Stafford recalled.
''He for sure has dropped that one on us,'' Stafford said. ''He brings it up in team meetings. It's a great one when you think about it.''
Unless the Lions collapse, it's tough to think of a reason Caldwell won't be back next year for a fourth season with them to surpass his tenure as Indianapolis Colts coach. Caldwell, though, is not going to celebrate with a sense vindication or feel as if his job is safe.
''In this business you're always on the hot seat,'' said Caldwell, 26-18 with a playoff appearance with the Lions. ''I don't care what your record is. It's what have you done lately, you know? I saw several years back, Marty Schottenheimer got fired at 14-2. If that doesn't tell you something about this business, nothing will.''
The Chicago Bears (3-9) will have to close the regular season with four straight wins for coach John Fox to match predecessor Marc Trestman's two-year record of 13-19 that led to him being fired. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio insisted he intends to return for a third year under Fox next season, refuting a report he might be gone because of philosophical differences. Fox acknowledged there's a tricky dynamic because he's a defensive-minded coach overseeing his defensive coordinator.
''Yeah, I think when you get reports like this, I think it makes it all difficult,'' Fox said.
Here are some other things to watch when Detroit hosts Chicago on Sunday:
NEW LOOK: The Bears beat the Lions 17-14 in Week 4 for their first of three wins, picking off Matthew Stafford twice and getting 111 yards of offense from both rookie running back Jordan Howard and nine-year veteran receiver Eddie Royal. Chicago will have a much different lineup in the rematch. The Bears have 15 players on injured reserve and two other players, receiver Alshon Jeffery and linebacker Jerrell Freeman, are serving four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drugs policy.
SAFETY TRIO: The Lions started three safeties, Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush, last week at New Orleans to make up for the loss of injured middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead. Detroit might keep the trio of safeties on the field more now because cornerback Quandre Diggs, who started three games at nickel back, is out for the year with a chest injury.
TATE'S TURNAROUND: Detroit receiver Golden Tate had one of the worst games of his career Oct. 2 at Chicago, where he had only one catch for 1 yard.
''It kind of just lit a fire under me,'' Tate said.
Since that game against the Bears, he has been one of the key reasons the Lions have won seven of eight games. He had eight receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown in last week's win at New Orleans; 11 catches for 79 yards and a score in a victory over Minnesota; and eight receptions for a career-high 165 yards and a TD in a win against Los Angeles.
HITTING THE ROAD: Chicago's Matt Barkley has fared relatively well in the first two starts of his three-year career, completing 55 percent of his passes for an average of 254 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 26-6 win over San Francisco and a 27-21 loss to Tennessee. Barkley, though, will be tested on the road for the first time as an NFL starter at Ford Field.
STAFFORD SAFE: Since throwing two interceptions at Chicago that gave him four in four games, Stafford has been picked off only once in eight games.
''He's playing very efficient,'' Fangio said. ''He's using his legs a lot more.''
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