Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
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David Briggs

Time running out for Lions' Caldwell

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Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell walks on the sideline in the second half Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

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Despite frequent suggestions to the contrary from us media schmucks, there are few true must-win games in sports. 

But there are some.

For instance, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series between the Indians and Cubs, before which Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy asked Cleveland manager Terry Francona, “Would you call this a must-win game?”

Francona burst out laughing.

Another must-win game: the Lions’ contest at Tampa Bay on Sunday. If Detroit (6-6) loses, not only will its fading playoff hopes be out the door but so should coach Jim Caldwell.

I’m rarely comfortable calling for anyone’s job, especially given Caldwell has won more games than he’s lost in four seasons with a mostly ordinary roster surrounding franchise passer Matthew Stafford. In fact, his .550 winning percentage (33-27) is the best of any Lions coach since Buddy Parker in the 1950s. He recently signed a multi-year extension.

But how much longer can the Lions go on like this? Two weeks ago, they had 10 men on the field when the Vikings scored their first touchdown. Last week, they had nine for a key third-down play in their blowout loss at Baltimore. Every week, they appear disorganized, spotting the opposition a big early lead before setting off on a desperate rally.

For a coach and a Lions team hoping to deliver the franchise its first playoff victory since 1991, time is running short. 

Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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