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Jim Caldwell 'appreciative' of opportunity to coach Lions in 2016

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It’s a new season, but the same old Jim Caldwell when it comes to job security questions.

He doesn’t think about it, doesn’t want to talk about it and isn’t planning on worrying about it. Essentially, it was the same answer the third-year Detroit Lions head coach gave a season ago, when Detroit began the season 1-7, finished 7-9 and Caldwell had a new general manager, Bob Quinn, evaluating him after the season.

“I’m going to go back and tell you once again,” Caldwell said. “Since 1978, when I first started coaching, way back whenever it was, coaches only had a one-year contract. That’s what I worked on for 24 years. I’ve been trained to look at your job is secure as the last game and I’m not going to change that philosophy.

“That’s the way I’ve always looked at it and it doesn’t matter what’s been said, what you think, that whole process. My focus is strictly on our football team. I’m not worried about the other stuff.”

Caldwell’s job security was a major theme throughout the 2015 season, especially once Detroit started 0-5 and the Lions were blown out by Arizona, 42-17. It became even more of an issue after the Lions fired former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn hours before leaving for London in Week 8.

A week later, the men who hired Caldwell – former GM Martin Mayhew and former team president Tom Lewand – also were axed. Caldwell remained and Detroit rallied around him, going 6-2 in the second half of the regular season.

During the second half of the season, the Lions hired Rod Wood as their new team president, and both he and Lions owner Martha Ford said the decision on Caldwell’s future would be up to the new general manager – Bob Quinn.

Quinn, in his first GM job, deliberated for a week before deciding to keep Caldwell for a third season after he went 18-14 over his first two years along with a playoff berth. His 11-5 record in 2014 tied for Detroit’s second-best record in the Super Bowl era.

“I love working. I think I mentioned before, certainly, I don’t take it for granted because more often than not, a change occurs in that situation and I’m appreciative of it,” Caldwell said. “But also, I’m going to earn it. I’m going to take advantage of it.

“We’re excited about an opportunity to keep going.”

Caldwell said the realistic expectation for the Lions in 2016 is they are going to be “a better football team and we have to be.” He cited good competition and good leadership as reasons why he believes the Lions will be bettter this year.

In his NFL career, Caldwell is 44-36 between Detroit and Indianapolis, where the Lions open the season on Sept. 11. He was fired after three seasons in Indianapolis when the Colts went 2-14 with Peyton Manning injured.

That record resulted in the Colts getting the No. 1 overall pick the franchise used on Andrew Luck, whom Detroit will face in Week 1.