Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

10/30/2014

Detroit Lions Jim Caldwell candidate for coach of the year


If Jim Caldwell’s name isn’t in the early conversation for NFL coach of the year it should be.

Actually it has started regarding the first-year Detroit Lions coach.

ProFootballTalk.com ranked the Lions sixth in the weekly power rankings this week.

The comment line:  “In a year with plenty of viable candidates for coach of the year, Jim Caldwell deserves serious consideration.’’

Gregg Rosenthal on NFL.com also mentions Caldwell as a candidate.

OK, it is early.

Still Caldwell has taken a team that won just one of its final seven games last season and changed its attitude.

The Lions are 6-2 at the midway point. (Highlight photos from first eight games.)

Almost more impressive is they are 3-0 with Calvin Johnson sidelined for the last three games.

In recent years, when Johnson didn’t play, you could almost see the shoulders of the healthy Lions droop. They said the right things, but it’s like they had a built-in excuse. “Well we didn’t have Calvin, so that’s why we lost.’’

Caldwell has changed that thinking.

Every coach in every sport at every level talks about “taking it one game at a time.”

Caldwell is more specific.

It’s one day at a time and on Sundays it’s one play or series at a time.

He’s a well-prepared coach with two Super Bowl rings.

Nothing takes him by surprise. He’s got the team prepared for every scenario and it’s up to them to execute.

His calm demeanor on the sidelines spreads to the team. After several months together, the team has taken on his personality.

When he was hired, there were skeptics. He has silenced at least most of them.

The first indication that things were different was during voluntary workouts in the spring. One player, then another and another said the same thing about Caldwell: “He treats us like men.’’

He holds players accountable no matter their spot on the depth charter or draft status. He’s not afraid to call out anyone in a team meeting. 

It’s happening behind closed doors, but he rarely will call out a player to the media.

Other early candidates for coach of the year include Arizona Cardinals’ Bruce Arians and San Diego’s Mike McCoy.

Non-candidates include two names who were mentioned for the Lions’ opening. Ken Whisenhunt’s Tennessee Titans are 2-6. Lovie Smith’s Tampa Bay Bucs are 1-6.

It’s looking like the Lions found a good fit in Caldwell. 

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


10/29/2014

Check out transcript of chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed today's live chat, here's a chance to catch up. Plenty of discussion on Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh and their futures in Detroit. Why no respect nationally for the Lions? We tackled that too. Next chat at 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6. Don't miss it ...

10/28/2014

Detroit Lions — No timetable for Nick Fairley's return


ALLEN PARK — Jim Caldwell said Tuesday morning that there is no timetable for the return of defensive tackle Nick Fairley who injured his right knee in Sunday’s win over the Falcons.

The Detroit Lions coach said reports that Fairley would be out four to five weeks did not come from the team office. 

“We have not come to that conclusion as of yet,’’ Caldwell said. “When we do we’ll certainly release it.’’

Those reports said that Fairley had a sprained MCL and PCL.

The coach said he's not sure if it’s a season-ending injury. 

“They haven’t told me that he wouldn’t be (available this season), at this point in time,’’ Caldwell said.


The Lions have a bye this week. Caldwell has given the players the rest of the week off. 

On Monday the team will start to prepare to play the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 9 at Ford Field.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

10/27/2014

Detroit Lions — After 6-2 start, a look at the remaining schedule


OK, so far so good for the Detroit Lions.

They’re 6-2 and atop the NFC North at the halfway point despite several key injuries.

Unlike seasons past, they are finding ways to win.

In the last two games they have held the lead for exactly 98 seconds and yet they have won both.


The defense is still ranked No. 1 in the NFL allowing just 290.4 yards per game — second against the run, fifth against the pass. This despite the fact they lost Stephen Tulloch and Bill Bentley for the season. 

The offense has been iffy, but with mostly good reason. Calvin Johnson has missed three games, Reggie Bush has been out for two. Right tackle has been an issue with LaAdrian Waddle missing half the games and Corey Hilliard gone for the season. 

None of the top three tight ends played on Sunday. 

Golden Tate has played exceptionally well. 

Matthew Stafford has been up and down, but he has somehow gotten the job done. He’s still adjusting to the new offense, but needs to be more precise with his passes. Sunday was the first game where he was not sacked. He was sacked 24 times in the first seven games which is one more time than in 16 games in 2013. 

The loss to the Bills was not on the offense or defense — remember the 17-14 loss where Alex Henery missed three field goals?

Special teams has been mostly solid. Matt Prater seems to be the answer at kicker. He’s four of six on field goals in four games. 

So now what?

The Lions have a bye this week to rest up. Most should be healthy for the Nov. 9 game against the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field. Also rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be eligible to play for the first time on that Sunday.

Of their next seven opponents  (they play the Bears twice), four have winning records.
After the Dolphins at home, they travel to Arizona against the Cards (6-1) on Nov. 16 and to New England against the Patriots (6-2) on Nov. 23. That should be the toughest two-game stretch in the second half of the season.

The Lions play the Bears (3-5) on Thanksgiving and the Tampa Bay Bucs (1-6) on Dec. 7 at Ford Field. On the Dec. 14 they play the Vikings (3-5) who they beat in Minnesota two weeks ago.

Then they wrap up the regular season at the Bears on Dec. 21 and at Green Bay on Dec. 28. (That game sets up to be flexed to the Sunday night game).

They should beat the Dolphins, Bears (at Ford Field), Bucs and Vikings. No excuses acceptable on any of those.

That would bring them to 10 wins. 

The way things have gone I wouldn’t count them out against any team at this point especially with a healthy offense.

So who had the Lions finishing 10-6? Not me. I had 9-7.

These are the Lions so who knows, but there is a remarkable difference in the team attitude. It stems from Jim Caldwell and his staff.

It should be a good second half and the Dec. 28 game should not be the final game of the season. 

The playoffs start Jan 3. Yes, I wrote the ‘P’ word.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions — Matt Prater explains the miss before game-winner


Matt Prater became the Detroit Lions’ hero when he kicked the 48-yard game-winning field goal at Wembley Stadium in the 22-21 win over the Falcons.

It wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. That's putting it mildly.

Prater missed on the first attempt of 43 yards, the Lions got a delay of game penalty and were moved back five yards.


Prater explained to reporters that he was hurried on the first attempt.

“I got out there late, the clock was running obviously and so I rushed it. Sam (Martin, the holder) told me to hurry, I looked at the clock when I was taking my steps back and I think there were three seconds,’’ Prater said.

“I actually slipped a little bit, but in my head I kind of knew it was going to be a delay of game and I know a game can’t end on a penalty. The footing was bad at that spot so I was happy to move it back,’’ he added.

So he had more time to prepare for the second attempt which set him at ease.

“Just because if you miss one, you better not miss again,’’ Prater said. “Like I said, it was a team win and they set it up, so I have to do my part and come through. I think the team would have wanted to kill me on the plane ride back, so it worked out for everybody.”

Prater was three of three on field goals at Wembley where the footing was not the best.

In three games for the Lions, Prater is 5 of 7 on field goal attempts. In 2013, he was 25 of 26 for the Broncos.

The Lions returned from London early Monday morning. They have a bye this week.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

10/26/2014

Detroit Lions learn how to face adversity, win


They say you can judge a team by how it handles adversity.

If this is true — and I believe it is — the Detroit Lions are the real deal.

Everyone said it was a game they should win against the Falcons who had lost four straight. But given the circumstances a Lions' loss would have been understandable.

Instead they come back with time running off the clock and then boarded the plane to Detroit with a 22-21 win.

How's this for adversity?

So they start on Sunday nearly 4,000 miles from home.

Four starters on offense are in street clothes — Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Brandon Pettigrew and LaAdrian Waddle. Don’t forget tight ends Eric Ebron and Joe Fauria who are also just spectators

Then early Nick Fairley gets carted off the field with a knee injury. This is after defensive tackle C.J. Mosley was sent home Saturday for violating team rules. So all of a sudden the Lions have two defensive tackles — Ndamukong Suh and fifth-round rookie Caraun Reid who played eight snaps on defense the previous game. Veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp steps in to help Suh. 

Next man up indeed.

Matthew Stafford just didn’t have many dependable allies on the field. In the second half he made it work.

The defense seemed a little rattled without Fairley, but came out for the third quarter with a renewed sense of urgency thanks to a fiery speech by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

Matt Prater missed his first attempt from 43 yards to win the game, stepped back five yards after a delay of game penalty and nailed the game-winner from 48.

Want to know the difference in this team from 2013?

There are a few new faces. Golden Tate has come up huge with Johnson sidelined. Safety James Ihedigbo is a difference maker too.

But mostly it’s the coaching staff led by Jim Caldwell.

Never say never. 

It’s not one game at a time with him, it’s one play at a time.

It’s not magic, it’s hard work.

Clearly Caldwell has coached these guys up so when they do face adversity — and it can’t get much worse than having half the offense in street clothes and down 21-0 at the half  — they make the most of every snap.

Yes, the season is just halfway over. But the Lions are 6-2, they get a week to rest and now, instead of looking for excuses, they find ways to win.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford sets franchise record


With his 59-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate in the third quarter today, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has broken Bobby Layne’s career franchise record. Stafford now has 119 touchdown passes.

Layne played for the Lions from 1950-58. Heed the Lions to national championships in 1952 and 1953 and was on sideline with broken leg when they won third national title in 1957.

Layne was called the “toughest quarterback who ever lived” in a 1995 Sports Illustrated story. He was one of the last players in the NFL to take the field without a face mask.

Stafford, in his sixth season with the Lions, is from Highland Park, Texas — the same hometown as Layne.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter.)

Detroit Lions — Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush inactive


Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush will not be active for the Detroit Lions as they face the Atlanta Falcons at London’s Wembley Stadium today. (Kickoff at 9:30 a.m. ET, will air nationally on FOX.)

All seven inactives are from the offense.

This is the third straight game that Johnson, who has an ankle sprain, has missed. 

The Lions are 2-0 without him. Golden Tate has been solid without Johnson on the field. Also expect Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross to be more involved in the offense.

Bush, who also has an ankle injury, played last Sunday but sat out the Oct. 12 win at Minnesota. Look for Joique Bell to carry the load with some help from Theo Riddick and George Winn.

Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who suffered a concussion last Sunday, is out. Garrett Reynolds will start but expect Cornelius Lucas to see some action too.

Also out are three tight ends — Brandon Pettigrew (foot), Joe Fauria (ankle) and Eric Ebron (hamstring). Fauria and Ebron were also out last week. None of the three practiced this week.

Tight end Jordan Thompson will play his second straight game. Veteran Kellen Davis, who was signed on Monday, will start.

Also inactive is quarterback Kellen Moore.

Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley was sent home on Saturday for a violation of team rules which includes a two-week suspension. This will mean a heavier load for Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

The Lions have a bye week on Nov. 2 which should give all the injured players extra time to heal.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

10/25/2014

Detroit Lions — 10 things you may not know about Wembley Stadium


The Detroit Lions play the Atlanta Falcons at London’s historic Wembley Stadium on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Wembley:

1. The original Wembley Stadium opened in 1923. It was demolished in 2003 and the new one opened in March 2007.


2. On Oct. 28, 2007, in front of 81,176 fans, the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 13–10 in the first regular season NFL game ever to be played in Europe, and the first outside of North America.

3. The first touchdown scored at Wembley was on a run by Giants' quarterback Eli Manning. The NFL has hosted at least one regular season game a year at Wembley since.

4. On Sept. 11, 2008, Madonna performed to a sell-out crowd of over 74,000 fans and a gross of over $12 million and surpassed all previous grosses at both the old and the new Wembley Stadium.

5. The Killers played their largest-ever sold out audience of 80,000 on June 22, 2013. They performed a song specially written for the Wembley Stadium: The Wembley Song.

6. Detroit’s own Eminem became the first rapper to headline at Wembley Stadium performing to a record 90,000 fans each night on July 11 and 12, 2014.

7. U2 performed to a record 82,000 fans each of two straight nights in August 2009. 

8. Wembley’s credentials as a music Mecca were boosted with the global phenomenon of Live Aid in 1985 and concerts by Queen in 1986, Michael Jackson in 1988 and the Rolling Stones in 1990.

9. The stadium contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world.

10. The old stadium was the home for 33 athletic events at the 1948 Olympic games. The decathlon was won by 17-year-old Bob Mathias from the United States.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)



10/22/2014

Transcript of chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed Thursday's chat on the Detroit Lions, here is the transcript. The Lions (5-2) will play the Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday. We had much discussion about Calvin Johnson, injuries and, of  course, Ryan Broyles. Game time on Sunday is 9:30 a.m. It will be televised nationally on FOX.