Lions' Quinn on keeping Caldwell: Making playoffs 'difficult to do'
Bob Quinn never gave Jim Caldwell a playoff mandate to keep his job, but the fact that the Detroit Lions are in the postseason for the second time in three years under Caldwell's watch is a big reason Quinn decided to keep his coach on for 2017.
In a wide-ranging interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Quinn cited the Lions' wild-card berth as one reason Caldwell will return for a fourth season as head coach.
"Making the playoffs is pretty difficult to do in this league, as a lot of coaches and front office people know," Quinn said. "So I was really glad to bring Jim back for next year and really excited about keeping the focus on Saturday night in Seattle."
The Lions finished the regular season 9-7 and lost a two-game division lead with three games to play, but they made the postseason as the No. 6 seed in the NFC and will visit the Seattle Seahawks at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
Caldwell has the best winning percentage of any full-time Lions coach in the Super Bowl era with a 27-21 record (.563), but he's entering the final season of his contract and the Lions lost their final three games of the regular season.
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Amid persistent questions about his future, the Lions announced early Wednesday that Caldwell would return for a fourth season.
Neither he nor the team has commented about a possible contract extension.
“Jim’s done a really good job," Quinn said on SiriusXM. "Him and this staff have really put together this team with help from my scouting staff and they’ve really did a good job developing some of the young players. We’ve got quite a number of rookies on the team that are playing significant roles so I’m really happy with how that has gone."
The Lions have gotten contributions from most of their 10-member rookie class, including their top three picks left tackle Taylor Decker, defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson and guard/center Graham Glasgow.
Quinn said he has "great expectations of these guys being even better next year."
"We’ve got a number of guys that have contributed really from the start of the season," Quinn said. "Taylor Decker started every game at left tackle and that’s a pretty difficult feat for a rookie. He’s done a real solid job. That position’s a really hard position to play and Taylor’s done a nice job of getting better every week and kind of really studying his opponent and knowing what kind of game that he has to play each and every week cause the defensive ends in this league come in all shapes and sizes and you can’t always play the same games against these pass rushes."
Quinn also said Matthew Stafford has "looked good" at practice this week after an initial feeling-out process with his injured middle finger - he's not listed on the Lions' injury report this week for the first time since suffering the injury - and that he's pulling for defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to get a head-coaching job this off-season.
Austin has interviews lined up next week with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
"We're supportive of Teryl's pursuit of being a head coach and we hope something works out for him," Quinn said. "If not, we'd love to have him here."
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