ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions didn’t even play last weekend and still made progress. A loss by Minnesota left the Lions tied with the Vikings for first place in the NFC North.
That hardly registered with coach Jim Caldwell.
"It doesn’t affect us, positive or negative," Caldwell said Monday after his team came off its bye week. "We’re focusing on the next game."
That next game is Sunday at home against Jacksonville. The struggling Jaguars (2-7) have lost four in a row, but Caldwell insisted they present plenty to worry about.
"They’ve got a fair amount of high draft picks on this team who are very capable players," Caldwell said. "They’ve done a lot of good things.
"They’re getting 4.2 (yards rushing) per carry, which is where we’d like to be," he added. "(Allen) Robinson catches the ball well. He has 48 catches and they have four more guys with at least 25 catches. They have two backs as good as any you can see and they have defensive guys who can run and hit. That’s going to be a problem. So we’ve got to be ready."
Monday marked the first time the Lions had met the media since Donald Trump was elected president. When asked about it, Caldwell initially tried to deflect the question.
"I try to use this platform for what it’s meant for, and that’s to talk about my team," he said. "Leadership is important. I do know that. Had I voiced the same opinions as some of our candidates, I wouldn’t have this job five minutes after I walked off this stage. Some of you as well. But yet the person has become the leader of the free world. So again, a different time and place, and I’m moving forward."
Offensive lineman Larry Warford said that, while Lions players did discuss the election, they kept it light.
"Guys have been giving it jokingly," he said, "like anyone would about (Trump) winning, and a lot of conversations have come up and good talk, but it’s not like it’s unruly in here. Life goes on."
It’s that focus, special teams player Brandon Copeland said, that has helped lift the team to first place after a 1-3 start.
"It’s nice to come off your bye week in contention," he said. "But we also know that if we don’t continue to do what we’ve done and win games, it doesn’t mean anything. Not to go back to last year, but being 1-7, the only way we get to 7-9 was by focusing on one game at a time. It’s nothing new or different to us. It’s how we’ve been trained and how we’ll continue to attack it."
NOTES: Caldwell said he did get away to spend time with his three grandchildren during the bye. "My time with them is important, and I don’t get enough of it," he said. "They’re growing up quickly." He also watched college football. "I watched as much as I could," he said. "There’s always something to learn."