After their playoff loss in Seattle, the Lions have officially switched to offseason mode.
"Obviously we're all extremely disappointed in the way the season ended," head coach Jim Caldwell said Monday. "It's not an easy thing when everything comes to an abrupt halt and that's kind of the way it is in this league when you get into the playoffs. It just all of the sudden the next week you're no longer working.
"So our guys are obviously very disappointed and the staff as well, but when you look back over it I just think that I'm extremely proud of our guys, how they fought and scratched particularly after a bit of a slow start and were able to come together as a unit and find a way to win week after week after week, and they did it in an unprecedented fashion and certainly proud of the way that our leaders led."
While Caldwell was happy with how his team fought, he still stressed the need for improvement in every phase.
"I look at myself and I see I can improve in every form or fashion of my life," he said. "I have nothing down pat and I think it's that way in football as well. There's nothing that we do well enough where we can say, you know what, let's put this to bed and we can focus in on something else.
"Your team changes, like we mentioned before, about 30 percent each and every year, so there's a lot of work to be done. We think we have a good young nucleus of guys, there's no question about that and we think we did a lot of good things in terms of understanding in key situations how to win games that are tight games and tough games and I think we have to build upon all those things, so we've still got a lot of work to do."
General manager Bob Quinn spoke to the media Thursday, and he echoed Caldwell's sentiment of needing to improve.
"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "I mean, we won nine games and lost eight, so we have a lot of work to do."
When asked about the final four-game losing streak in particular, Quinn called it 'eye-opening.
"Our record is what it is," Quinn said. "We lost four games to four of the better teams in the NFC. That's our competition going forward."
IMPROVING THE RUN GAME
One area both Caldwell and Quinn targeted for improvement is the run game. The Lions finished the season 30th in rushing offense.
"I view the running game as the entire offense. Offensive line? Yes. Running backs? Yes. Fullbacks? Yes. Tight end? Yes. Wide receivers blocking in the running game? Absolutely," Quinn said. "This isn't you pick one running back at the top of the draft and your running game is fixed, that's not how this league works."
The Lions' run game could get a quick improvement right off the bat with the return of a healthy Ameer Abdullah. Despite dealing with injuries his first two years, Abdullah is confident he can still be a premier running back in the NFL.
"Coming into this league, I had no other plans but to be a premier NFL back in this league, and I know I will be," he said. "It just takes patience, it takes prayer, it takes diligence, and coming from these injuries the last year or so, it's just that much more important to me."
The 2017 roster building process has already begun. The Lions signed nine players to the Reserve/Future List Monday, and added linebacker Brandon Chubb to the list on Thursday.
Chubb spent seven weeks as a member of the Lions practice squad before finishing the year with the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- See which Lions ranked in the NFL's top 10 in various statistical categories for the 2016 season.
- After another 90-catch season, wide receiver Golden Tate has plans for more improvement this offseason.
- Still pursuing a career in the medical field after football, running back Zach Zenner is preparing for another offseason research project.
- Bob Quinn and Matthew Stafford weigh in on tackle 's solid rookie season.
- View photos of the Lions' gameday captains for the 2016 season.