Head coach Jim Caldwell stressed situational football over and over again in OTA and minicamp practices this spring.
At the end of every practice the team went through every conceivable mock situation they could think of, sometimes at full speed, sometimes in walk through fashion. For Caldwell, it was all about putting his team in real-game situations.
“We try and cover anything we can possibly think of or anything we’ve seen that has come up in recent times and ball games that we need to make certain we have an answer to, that we understand how to function within that situation,” Caldwell said.
“So, we try to put them in those situations as often as we can because those are things that will make a difference in ball games for you. The more knowledge they have in those and how well they execute in those situations are going to make a difference.”
It’s the same kind of concept adopted with Caldwell’s training camp schedule. The Lions will practice some days in the late afternoon, sometimes at night, other times early in the morning. One practice will be at Ford Field. There’s no routine to it. Players will have to adjust to every different situation.
It’s the same kinds of adjustment Caldwell drills at the end of his practices.
“What that is, those are mock situations that we cover, things that we talk about during the course of our meeting,” he said.
“We sort of back that up with film from different situations that have happened in ball games in our league, so we try and walk through them and give them a good feel for it, understand what we’re trying to get done. We have a myriad of different situations that we have to cover and that’s just one way to do it.”
The Lions were in 15 games in the fourth quarter last year and found a way to lose eight of those contests. Too many times last year the defense couldn't get off the field in a critical situation, or the offense couldn't make that one play to put a game away or come back late.
Caldwell is trying to make sure his football team is better prepared for those crucial moments in games that mean the difference between winning and losing.