By Will Burchfield
After the Detroit Lions third straight defeat on Sunday, a dispiriting 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears that dropped them to last place in the NFC North, the growing sentiment within the team's fan base is that Jim Caldwell is to blame.
The players aren't having it.
"I shoot that down right away, that's not the case at all," said linebacker Tahir Whitehead. "The coaches have done a great job of getting us prepared for each and every game (but) we've gone out there and just not quite executed the game plan the way we initially think."
Most notably, the Lions have been undone by faulty on-field communication. It has been evident on offense, where Matthew Stafford and the wide receivers have struggled to stay on the same page, and on defense, where opposing players have been left wide open.
But the Lions insist it doesn't fall on the coaches.
"No, there's no blame on them at all. That's all on us as a team, we take the blame for it," said defensive end Devin Taylor. "We all lost together so we all take it together."
Whitehead echoed this sentiment, noting it's on the players to turn things around.
"You can't make excuses about it, it's just something that you have to get fixed," he said. "At the end of the day it's never perfect in a football game, we just have to find ways to limit the communication errors. I think this past game we did a better job of that but they were able to execute on the plays that we had mishaps."
Earlier on Monday, Caldwell expressed confidence in the Lions' personnel.
"We've got players, we've got guys that can get the job done. I feel good about our men, we've just got to perform better," he said.
And veteran wide receiver Andre Roberts suggested the same thing.
"I think everybody can see it out there on the field and on paper, we have the guys, we just have to get it done on Sundays," he said.
Asked if that includes the coaching staff, Roberts replied in the affirmative.
"Definitely," he said. "We have everything we need."
On top of Caldwell's losing record, the fans seem frustrated with his lack of emotion. The Lions coach always seems to be wearing the same stoic expression on the sideline, which can be interpreted as disinterest.
"Fans get upset about everything and they get excited about everything. It is what it is. We know how Coach Caldwell is with us and that's all the matters," Roberts said. "He has a demeanor in practice and on game day that we love and we love him as our head coach. All we gotta do is start winning for him and I think the fans will think differently of how his demeanor is on the sideline."
Asked if the players know when Caldwell is upset, Roberts chuckled.
"We definitely know," he said.
So is their coach upset right now?
"Of course, we've lost three games straight. We're 1-3 in our first quarter of football," Roberts replied. "So in order for us to get back on track we just gotta keep working harder."
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