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Jim Caldwell has no interest 'in defending one's self' against critics

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he does not believe in defending himself -- at least publicly -- as questions about his future as the team's head coach continue to show up heading into the final game of the regular season Sunday against Chicago.

Caldwell has been on the hot seat for the majority of the season and even more so after the Lions were the last winless team in the NFL and started the year 1-7. This led team owner Martha Ford to fire team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew on Nov. 5.

Ford hired Rod Wood as the team's new president and Wood has said multiple times the new general manager would decide Caldwell's future. Caldwell said he has enjoyed coaching the Lions the past two seasons and that he feels the city of Detroit has embraced him.

"I don't want that to get misconstrued, either," Caldwell said. "I think that oftentimes what you do just in terms of trying to make a case for yourself or whatever that might be, that's certainly not my intent because of the fact that I don't believe in defending one's self.

"But I do enjoy what I'm doing. I do like what we do. I do love the players that we're coaching. I think we've got a lot of great men and obviously I kind of think the city has welcomed me with open arms. It's been great." Caldwell declined to say what conversations he has had with Wood or Ford about his future with the Lions, saying it is both not about him and that those conversations are private.

Caldwell, who is 17-14 entering the season finale, will end the season Sunday as the only Lions coach during the Super Bowl era with a winning record after his first two full seasons as head coach. The other three Lions coaches to do so were all before the AFL-NFL merger.

The Lions had high expectations entering the season. They were set by Caldwell, who said at his first news conference before the preseason began that he expected to be a playoff team this season and that they had to be better than last season's 11-5 record.

"To me, there is only one position to be satisfied with, and that's winning it all," Caldwell said. "That's being the absolute best one in this league. Anything that falls short of that, I'm going to be dissatisfied with, and I can say that with full sincerity because I've been there on a number of occasions.

"I know what it's like. I know what it looks like. Some people are twisting in the wind, so I know what it takes to get there. Anything that falls short of that, it's not going to be quite good enough, all in all."

Caldwell said early on this season the Lions were not running the ball or stopping the run and those two things contributed to Detroit's 1-7 start. The Lions have done both of those things better in the second half of the season, where the Lions are 5-2. Detroit will not come close to that, finishing the season with a losing record for the 13th time since 2000.

"Let's not say it didn't come close," Caldwell said. "When you said it didn't even come close, we had our chances. We had our chances and we just did not play well enough when it counted to get that done.

"So, and like I said, every year is a little bit different. Our goal and aim is not to be mediocre."