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Lions ownership backs Jim Caldwell as coach, but GM to decide

The Detroit Lions ownership supports head coach Jim Caldwell and would like to retain him, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Sunday.

Team president Rod Wood reiterated after Sunday's season finale, however, that the Lions' new general manager will make the final decision on Caldwell, who went 7-9 this season.

Wood, who was hired to replace the fired Tom Lewand, has said multiple times that the new general manager would decide Caldwell's future.

Team owner Martha Ford, in a brief statement after the game, told reporters "I haven't gotten that far yet" when asked about Caldwell's status with the franchise.

When Wood was asked why he wanted the general manager to make the call on Caldwell, he said it is part of the job description.

"It's one of the main functions of their job is selecting the coach and we're going to follow that and not going to change," Wood said.

Wood also said he felt like they have made a lot of progress despite not being able to interview candidates.

"We do," Wood said after the Lions' season-ending 24-20 win over Chicago. "I've been working with Ernie [Accorsi] since the day we engaged him. A lot of the groundwork has been laid. We just have to wait until the end of the season until we can really start the next step.

"So we're ready to go."

Wood would not say how many candidates the Lions plan on interviewing and would not address any specific candidates other than confirming interim general manager Sheldon White will one of the candidates interviewed. White just finished his 19th season with the club and was promoted into the interim general manager role after serving as Vice President of Pro Personnel.

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 Ford to fire Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew on Nov. 5.

On Friday, Caldwell said he does not believe in defending the job he's done as Lions coach -- at least publicly -- but added that he has enjoyed coaching the Lions the past two seasons and that he feels the city of Detroit has embraced him.

He maintained that tone when addressing his job status as he spoke following the Lions' 24-20 win over the Chicago Bears in Sunday's season finale.

"I'm working. I'm under contract until I am told differently," Caldwell said, adding he knows of the Lions' immediate plan -- to hire a general manager and proceed from there.

Caldwell understands the nature of coaching in the NFL and said he doesn't worry about his job security because he has no control over it.

"It's kind of the nature of the business. This is the job. If you can't handle it, you better go find something else to do."

Caldwell is 18-14 overall in Detroit and is 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.