Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell’s Monday thoughts on Ebron, Stafford, pass protection

Examining 27-24 loss to Panthers

ALLEN PARK >> In the aftermath of the Lions’ loss to the Panthers on Sunday, coach Jim Caldwell was resolute.

The coach saw the good and too much bad. He isn’t panicking, he never does.

“At this point in time we need to improve on everything, we need to improve on every single thing we do from top to bottom offense, defense, special teams,’’ Caldwell said on Monday.

Of course, he would say the same thing after a win.

He’s the captain guiding the ship in the calm in the storm of criticism. It doesn’t bother him one bit.

“The thing I’m interested in the most is winning, I’m not interested in window dressing, what the numbers should say, what they look like and all that stuff,’’ Caldwell said. “It’s never mattered to me. I’m interested in scoring, defense and obviously winning games.’’

Here are his thoughts on a few key plays and moments from Sunday:

— Not surprisingly, he wouldn’t give an update on Matthew Stafford’s ankle. The quarterback injured his right ankle in the game — he was limping noticeably. “Like most of the guys he’s pretty sore after games,’’ Caldwell said. He would not offer any specifics. Stafford refused to talk about it after the game.

— Eric Ebron was targeted four times and made just one catch. The worst drop was in the end zone when the ball was clearly in the tight end’s hands. A touchdown there would have given the Lions a 7-0 lead. Instead they settled for a field goal. “I think, like I said yesterday, everybody will point to one game or one play or whatever it might be,’’ Caldwell said. “There were a lot of folks having a bad game, a bad stretch. He’s got talent, he works at it, it’s our job to get it out of him.’’ Caldwell said. The coaches will go over film with him, like they do with everybody, to show him where he has to improve. Remember back to Week 2, Ebron had five catches on five targets. He’s got it in him, he just has to hold on.

— In many games, like Sunday’s loss, it comes down to chunk plays. The Panthers had plenty — wide receiver Ed Dickson averaged 35 yards per catch (175 total). “It’s always a key, one of the things you look at is the contrast how many big plays you get, how many you give up. You always want to be on the plus side of that. We were minus-2 yesterday. We’ve got to be better. Just keep working. We have the potential, we have the ability just keep working at it. We’ve gotten big plays, we got big plays out of (Darren) Fells in the end zone, we got a number of big plays during the course of a game, just not enough. We’ve got to get more.’’ Bingo.

— Pass protection was woeful. Stafford was sacked six times, the same number as the previous Sunday. It’s not all on the offensive line, the blame can be spread around. “There’s a number of different things that happen during the course of a ball game and you don’t know all the details to all of them, so I’m not going to expect you to know … That it’s our job to protect him no matter if they’re blitzing, not blitzing, four-man rush, whatever it might be,’’ Caldwell said. “We didn’t do a good enough job with that. There are a lot of moving parts that get with protection — it’s routes being run properly, guys getting open, balls thrown on time, offensive linemen blocking, tight ends blocking, backs blocking. There’s a lot of different things going into it. We scan the entire gamut throughout the course of the game. We have to get better at it — we were pretty good at the beginning, we were good at the end in terms of getting the ball out, making catches and making plays. We just had a bit of a lull there that you can’t afford against a good team.’’

— A bright spot in the loss was the return of rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis after he missed two games with a concussion and a neck injury. “Obviously, I think he had eight tackles or something like that. Jarrad’s a good downhill, aggressive player,” Caldwell said. “Does a nice job for us, and no doubt about it, he helped us. There’s no question.” His eight tackles were second only to Tavon Wilson who had 10.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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