“Have you ever heard me defend or anything?” Caldwell said. “Not to anybody. It’s not just to you. It’s not to anybody. I don’t make any excuses. It’s just not the way I live my life. We go out and we do what we do and let everybody make an assessment from there.
“What’s the real assessment is wins — wins and losses — that’s the key.”
And that was part of the problem. Though Caldwell won more than almost any coach in Lions franchise history, he didn’t win in critical moments as the Lions failed to win a division title or playoff game during his tenure.
With Sunday’s win, the Lions had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1993-95, when Detroit had three straight years over .500. Caldwell’s winning percentage of .562 as Lions head coach is the highest of any permanent coach of the franchise for more than one season since Buddy Parker had a 47-23-2 record and .671 winning percentage from 1951 to 1956.
There was a sense of uncertainty as two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning jogged off the field at MetLife Stadium, clinching a game ball in his left hand and waving to fans and friends in the stands with his right.
He’s going to be 37 years old in January and New York has concluded a disastrous 3-13 season.
“I believe Jim is one of the finest leaders we’ve ever had as our head coach,” Ford said in a statement. “Not only did he guide us on the field to three winning seasons, but he also set a standard of excellence off the field that had a tremendous impact on everyone in our organization and our entire community. As many of our players have already said, his influence on them transcended the game of football and will positively serve them throughout their lives.