Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say on Monday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
Opening Statement: "Tough win, but I think a good overall team win. And like anything else, it was kind of a thing where you look at the film and most of it you could get a sense of, but I think the energy of our fans was quite evident and was a factor in the game. Particularly at the start, I think our defense did a great job kind of helping get things get going and then our fans at the end of the game were also equally as loud and enthusiastic. I think that certainly aided us, but the guys overall I thought played hard. Still when you look at the film, it's like you're never as good as you think you are when you win, never as bad as you think you are when you lose, and there's so many things that we can get better at just all across the board. We've got a lot of work to do yet, but you have to feel good about getting a win against a very tough football team, which I am because there was some great effort. The guys seemed to be able to answer the bell even in the most difficult circumstances."
On G Larry Warford and if he expects him to return this season: "He's going to be a little bit. They're continuing to look at him today and kind of see where we are, but hopefully young guys heal fast, so we'll see."
On T LaAdrian Waddle's health status: "Same. We're still evaluating him. We'll see what happens here."
On if Waddle is expected to miss significant time: "I'm not certain exactly how much time, but we'll get a sense of it in the next day or so."
On if Waddle re-aggravated his calf injury: "I don't necessarily talk about injuries until we have to, in terms of putting them out. But I think you'll be able to see it at that particular point in time on Wednesday."
On what the team loses with Warford out of the lineup: "Anytime that you have a guy that's played as long as he's played, obviously anytime we have any sort of injury at any position and a guy has a bevy of experience, if he's replaced by a guy that doesn't have as much experience, you obviously lose that part of it. But he's been playing extremely well and if he's not able to play this week, then we'll get somebody ready to go. The young guy played well, Travis (Swanson) played great. So, we'll make the necessary adjustments."
On if the field goal that was blocked during Sunday's game was due to Miami's penetration or if the kick was low: "It was a little bit of both, to be honest with you. There was some penetration and sometimes when you have that much penetration, it's tough to tell if the trajectory of the ball was a factor, but we had a lot of penetration on that."
On what WR Golden Tate has done this season that has surprised him or surpassed his expectations he had for him: "Well, I think he really hasn't done anything to surprise me, to be honest with you. He hadn't gotten the ball with this kind of frequency in this league. You knew he had talent and ability and those kinds of things. Within this structure on offense, he fits very well within it. All he does is make big plays because of his quickness and his ability to catch the ball. He runs a variety of different routes for us and has a real awareness. That first down that he converted there down the stretch was huge. He knew exactly where he had to get to and obviously made it by the smallest of margins. But I think I had mentioned to you before, he's probably one of the players I'd heard so much about, even during the time when he was in college. Bill Polian would always come back and talk about when he was watching the team his son Brian was coaching at Notre Dame and Golden was there. Every week he'd come in with a new story about something that Golden did and obviously, Bill being one of the great evaluators of all time had nothing but great things to say about him, even though I didn't have a chance to watch him play much in college. Just a little bit here and there. He's certainly doing the things that you anticipate he's capable of doing."
On how WR Calvin Johnson helps open the offense up: "The thing that happens to you is that week in and week out, teams adjust their defense according to what they think they can get accomplished. Sometimes they single them up, sometimes they'll disguise it and play a little bit more two, roll to his (Johnson's) side. They just kept changing it up a little bit. But I think all in all, you can tell by the way the ball was spread around quite a bit. Golden with the number of catches that he had, obviously, and the number of receivers that were targeted that, you spread it out a little bit more, it gives somebody an opportunity to do some things. But also, he's still going to be a big factor for us, you can see regardless how much attention he gets. There's sometimes you just can't, in certain situations, leave him or double up on him, particularly in a key running situation. It's hard to do it, so we took advantage of a couple of them. Matthew (Stafford) got him the ball and made some very great conversions for us, which were big and he had the touchdown pass, obviously."
On how Tate is able to use his size to his advantage: "There's quickness, obviously it's something that jumps out at you right away. He's quicker than the norm. He's a guy that can avoid tackles, he has a great awareness about him. I think that often times in this league, and obviously when he played major college football even, if you have a skill set, sometimes it's enhanced and developed because of your size or lack thereof. I just think he uses every ounce of his talent. There are a number of different ways during the course of a ball game, so he's quite a guy."
On how he manages the potential playoff fever his team could feel: "We don't have it. We're wearing a white mask around here so we don't have to worry about it. But it's like I've said every week, they don't give out any awards or anything after nine games in the season. We haven't done anything yet. We've been playing well, we've been playing tough and that kind of stuff, but this is a long season. It's a journey and we're still on that journey. So, our guys certainly aren't entertaining that and they're focused in on this next game. We've got the team with the best record in the National Football League coming up. You better get focused in on them quickly."
On what the danger is of getting too excited about the playoffs: "I don't know because I've never done it. You might want to ask somebody who has. It hasn't been me and it won't be this team. We'll make certain, so I couldn't tell you to be honest with you."
On RB Theo Riddick's absence on special teams in the past few weeks and if it was a preservation move: "It just kind of depends. George (Winn) has been able to step in there and do some things pretty well when he's up, so he takes a bit of the load off of him, in that regard. You may see him in there a little bit more if something happens with our roster to change it a little. It has nothing to do with how effective he is because he's very effective, and if he's called upon to do it, he'll get in there and do it. But he's one of those guys that is very dependable in all of those phases."
On RB Reggie Bush not playing much in the second half vs. Miami and if it was due to injury or performance: "He just got a little nicked up during the course of the game. He just wasn't able to do quite as much and as well as he'd like."
On DE Ezekiel Ansah's development: "He's a force and when you think about a guy that has his size and height, he's between 275 and 280 pounds depending upon what he's eating for breakfast, but he's a guy that can run at that size and you see it all the time. You just kind of watch his play. There was a play yesterday where he was on the inside, he bangs and wraps around to the outside with a lot of force into the quarterback. Sort of baring around the corner and leaning as he goes. But he can do those things and never miss a beat in terms of his speed, and he does have a lot of power. So, what it does in effect to an offensive lineman for example, you set for some guys that are speed rushers. You set for speed and often times what happens, he'll make you set for speed and then he'll turn it into power. Change it up a little bit in terms of his pass rush moves. He is developing, I think week by week he's getting a little bit better, I mean all the time. But it's just his innate ability to run, along with his natural strength and ability. He's got a good feel for his position at this point."
On Riddick seeming to be the primary target when he enters the game: "I just think that's kind of the way it happens. Sometimes obviously there are packages, but you never can tell where a ball is going. It depends on what they do and what they give you defensively. Often times you can make a guess but more often than not defensive coordinators are trying to break all their tendencies so they mix it up on you a little bit. It just so happened to work out that way, but he's one of those guys that tend to make things happen when he gets in the game."
On his assessment of the run game: "I think the first half it was pretty strong and I think we were around 4.3 or so, we ran it 19 times. I think this was one of those games that had we given it to the backs maybe a total of 20 something times or so I think you would have seen a pretty good amount of yardage being gained. There were some creases for us, Joique Bell did a tremendous job running the ball, I mean he was tough, hard-nosed in there, and certainly set a tone for us. I do think even though yesterday might have been a little difficult for you to sense, but I can tell we're better in that area. It's just a matter of improving little by little."
On why QB Matthew Stafford appears to be more accurate at the end of games: "The last three weeks it's probably come to the forefront a little bit more because of the situation the game's been in. He was 8-for-11 yesterday on the last drive and that kind of thing. He was pretty effective on the first drive and there have been other times where he's been pretty effective. It just so happens that's what gets highlighted, it doesn't necessarily mean that's the only time that he goes through a streak of throwing the ball well, that's not the case. I do think that it does show that when it is time to get some things done he's not one of those guys that's going to shrink away from a challenge, he's going to make something happen, and fortunately it's played out in our favor."
On how he thinks the two back sets have worked this year and if it's something that can be used going forward: "It depends on who we're playing. Everything changes from week to week. Sometimes it may be a one back set, some weeks it may be a fullback and tailback, and some weeks it may be two backs, more of a half back oriented deal. It just depends on who we face and what we think we can get accomplished in that regard."
On if the team was elevated from RB Joique Bell breaking Dolphins CB Cortland Finnegan's tackle: "I think this game that's played is a physical game. The more guys offensively, defensively and your kicking game that can set a tone for you that way I think the better. There are tough teams that we face and you better be up for the challenge and I think our guys have been that way of late. That particular play was an important play for us because we needed to get some things going. He caught the pass in the flat and turned it into a pretty significant gain and finished it. He's been finishing all of his runs I think the way you're supposed to, leaning forward and making a couple extra yards."
On what it does for a team to have three straight games when down late but not out: "I do think number one it gives a whole lot of folks a heart check to see if their valves are working properly. Besides that I do think that a team and its development that it's a part of the growth process. You have to have some wins like that in order to be successful in this league. I think when you look across the board, obviously because we're here with this particular team, there are a lot of teams that have grown through, probably not as dramatic as ours, but come from behind and get in position to win. Those things happen all the time in our league, that's just the way it is. When you're a good football team and if you're trying to get to be a good football team you're going to have to win games like that. You have to. I can't tell you how many games we had like that when we were in Indy. I think we had seven years in a row where we had 12 victories or more and we had a bunch of games like that. It was so many of them I can't count and one season we had seven when were 14-0, I mentioned that several times. It's not unusual, it's not uncommon, and there are not a whole lot of blow outs in this league. There are going to be games that are tight like that and if you're a team that's trying to move ahead and get better you got to find a way to win games that way."
On how his team has built confidence in itself going down the stretch in close games: "I don't think there's any question that the guys on the team, it comes through practice more than the games. I think they can see it even in our two-minute drills in practice, our four-minute work in practice, those kinds of things and situational football. That's where you get your confidence, the understanding of it, the developing of it, and then you guys happen to get to see it on game day. We see the seeds of it being formed early on in practice. From that, building that confidence, and then going into the game and doing it. Obviously it makes certainly most of you guys feel that they are never out of a game and you always got a chance. It's just like yesterday, we just needed to get one more stop and make certain we had an opportunity to finish with the ball in our hands which the defense did a great job. It's a bit contagious, but that only lasts so long. That one's over and done with so now you have the next one. They get bigger and bigger as time goes on and we're going to need a great effort come this weekend."
On how much DT Ndamukong Suh set the tone during the game: "The first four or five plays I mean it's pretty obvious. They singled blocked him on one and he ends up coming down the line making a huge play. The next play he's a factor and that whole first series he was all over the place. The next series they doubled teamed him and I think early on they wanted to single block him. I think that's something and we saw it when we were preparing for him. When I was with the opposition, I don't think there's any secret, and I don't think there is anything different about the way he's played ever since he's been in this league. The guy is an unusual physical specimen that knows how to play the game. He's highly disruptive and he's going to make you better. Obviously there are some great things that he does that's going to afford some other guys single blocks and when they get single blocks they got to show up. I think we have guys that do that."
On why the team doesn't run more no huddle offense during the course of the game: "If I wanted to see it I'd call it. Certain things fit your personnel, where we are is what we think is best for us. We have some of that in our system obviously because we use it during those key situations. We do some during the course of play. If you've watched us you've seen us, even during the course of play change it up a little bit, some off speed pitches more or less, so we do have that. One of the things I know from operating in a system like that where we went strictly no huddle and the only time we huddled was maybe on third down and maybe on the goal line, maybe. I can just tell you that it depends on the system and how it fits your personnel. That doesn't necessarily fit our personnel the entire way through an entire ball game, doesn't fit us. We are who we are and I think we form our own identity and we don't have to adjust to the way someone played, or the way I coached somewhere else, all that has to be adjusted. I think that's one of the biggest traps in coaching that coaches get a little arrogant. They think it's more system oriented or systemic rather than having to do with personnel. It really boils down to the people that you have, how they function within that realm, and I think where we are, what we do, Joe (Lombardi) and the offensive group they do a tremendous job just in terms of putting together and formulating our offensive plan.
On Cardinals QB Drew Stanton: "Obviously, having a chance to look at him coming out of college, he's a talented guy, certainly had a lot of ability. The best thing I could tell you is that if you took a look at him early in the season when (Carson) Palmer wasn't in there, I think he won both games he was involved with. Once he put up 33 points, I forget how much on the other. So, that tells you enough if you can do that in this league. He's a quality guy, and not only that, that's a really good football team with a real fine defense. The one thing about quarterbacks is that they don't have to go in there and do it alone. They can run the ball, they're a well-coached bunch and he's part of that. He can deliver the ball, he's an accurate guy, hasn't thrown an interception I don't think this year, maybe if so it's one or very few. He operates extremely well."
On the defensive line being successful against the run: "First of all, I think they're real fine technicians. When they're assigned to play a three technique, they know how to play it. They know what to do in key situations. I think they have guys that coach them extremely well, Jim Washburn and Kris (Kocurek) do a tremendous job with them. Scheme wise, Teryl (Austin) does a great job, but he uses the things that they do well. But, they are very, very sound technically. They have an unusual amount of cohesiveness and comradery amongst that group. They run to the ball, they hustle and we have enough people that no one has to get taxed physically. We can rotate them in and out of there, you see a bevy of guys in there. You look up and you may see (Darryl) Tapp and (Andre) Fluellen in there and Devin (Taylor), as a matter of fact came in and did some nice things for us. So, there are a lot of guys that we can rotate in there that have done a great job. As long as we can keep that kind of rotation and our performance doesn't drop off, I think it helps us. I think it helps the guys that are the original starters and I think that's what helps make them effective as well. But also, you have to keep in mind that we stopped that running game because of the fact that we have guys up front that can move, but we also have linebackers that can run. (DeAndre) Levy once again had an excess of 10 tackles which he has done numerous times this year. Tahir (Whitehead) moves around and makes plays, there's a lot of guys that do a nice job and the secondary also gets involved in that also."
On if S James Ihedigbo has been better than he thought he would be: "Not better than I thought because he's done this his entire career. He did it at Baltimore, he was tremendous there. He's just one of those guys that's going to be at the right place at the right time. He's a tough competitor, consummate leader, great field general, I mean he's really pretty special. So, he's played well but played like about we'd thought he'd play. We knew he'd be a factor, knew he'd lead us and help lead us back there in the secondary amongst a bunch of vets (veterans). He's been good, it's been a lot of fun."
On if Ihedigbo got some grief for a quarterback chasing him down on the interception: "He didn't in the locker room right after, but I'm sure by the time they get back here he's probably heard it a few times. But, that's not just your normal quarterback either, that guy can run. He can move."
On if he believes Tannehill would have scored if he kept the ball instead of passing on the incompletion to TE John Clay: "Against our defense I'd say no. They close on you pretty fast. You can say ‘what-ifs' all the time. You know what I mean? You can speculate, but what did happen? The what-ifs, that's up to you guys, the hypotheticals and all that kind of stuff, that's your realm, mine is different. It's a fact-based realm that I work in and I know they got it done. Often times it doesn't look pretty and we'd like to look at the alternatives and what may happen, that kind of thing, but we have to focus in on what did happen, good or bad. Face those brutal facts and try to find a way to correct the ones where you made a mistake and the things you did well, try to build upon them. So, that's kind of where we are."
On if he likes division races that seem to go down to the wire: "Yes, I do. I like games that go down to the wire because I think we have a chance. I think we have a chance when they go down to the wire, we have a chance. I think it's good for the league, I think it's good all the way across the board. I think it increases our fan base, we have a few more people in here on Mondays and etcetera, covering our game. It gives our guys that play our game a chance to earn a great living and the coaches that coach it. I think it's good for all of us."
On if he is concerned with some of the issues K Matt Prater has had: "Well, here's how I look at it. There's no one that plays a perfect game. Some positions get highlighted and there's also several things that have to go right in order for them to do their job: quarterbacks, place kickers and things of that nature. So, I don't get overly concerned because everybody makes a mistake here and there. I don't get overly concerned with guys that have done it and done it consistently well. I think sometimes it's just a matter of kind of getting in the groove. But yesterday, I thought he did his job. It's just a matter of a play here and there. I don't think that had anything to do with, to be honest with you, necessarily the trajectory although you can't tell when you get that kind of penetration. But, I think it was more penetration than anything else."