By: Will Burchfield
If Jim Caldwell's seat was hot earlier this fall, it has cooled with the onset of winter.
The Lions, winners of four straight and seven of their past eight, are in first place in the NFC North and closing in on their first division title since 1993. When Caldwell is out and about - which isn't often, given the amount of time he spends at the practice facility - he hears the excitement from the team's fans.
"When I come in in the morning there are very few fans that are up. When I go home late at night there are very few people that are around and most often it's only one gas station open in my area and I don't encounter very many people at that time. Those that I have, it hasn't been of late because it's been about five or six weeks. I haven't just run into a whole lot of people. But I can tell you this: it has certainly been favorable and they are appreciative," Caldwell said.
He even felt the support in New Orleans, where on Sunday the Lions topped the Saints in their best performance of the season.
"I think obviously it was a big win for us, there's no question, particularly going there playing against that offense that was extremely explosive in a hostile territory. Although, I have to say that we had an abundance of fans down there, which was great to see," said Caldwell. "They certainly provided some excitement and spirit. Our guys noticed it particularly when they started yelling, 'Hey, let's go Lions' in chorus. There were many of them there.
"Then after the game, too, the way in which they received the guys. They came down to the lower level. That was key, that was helpful. We certainly appreciate the fans traveling that distance to support us."
Caldwell hasn't always been on the fans' good side during his tenure in Detroit. Nor, for that matter, have the Lions. But with the coach guiding the team through an unexpectedly strong season, their respective critics have waned.
If the Lions' winning ways continue, the support will only grow louder.
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