Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say on Thursday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
Opening Statement: "Happy New Year. Someone said to me, this is the first time that they've been working in January or had to adjust their schedule because of work, one of our coaches, in his career. It just kind of brought to mind that you don't ever take these for granted. I don't care who you are, what you've been through. I remember Tony Dungy, at one point in time, I think he won 10 straight. I think he was the only coach at that particular point in time, there may be some since that time that have taken a team to 10 straight playoffs. He said, ‘I never take them for granted.' I think that's one of the things that often times, people kind of dismiss as it being easy to do, you should do it every year. The fact of the matter is that it is so difficult in our league because it's such a great challenge and there's so many great teams. One of the things we're trying to do here, and I think we're trying to get our guys accustomed to it, I was talking about it the other day: To establish a tradition of excellence and that doesn't come easy. T.S. Eliot said in one statement, I'll paraphrase it a little bit, but the statement he made is that, ‘Tradition is not inherited, it's gained through hard work and labor.' I think our guys understand that aspect of it, I think that's why they work so hard. It's been, for them, a real task.
Obviously we haven't reached our ultimate goal, but to have an opportunity you know, we're one of 12 teams that yet have an opportunity to prove that you're the best in our league. I think that's something that obviously, we've been shooting for. They're enthusiastic about this opportunity. I was amazed also, we have a pretty large number of guys on this team that have actually had playoff experience when you look at it overall. I haven't gone through the point to see how many have won but I know there's quite a few that have certainly been involved in it and that bodes well. I think I saw something by Joshua Cribbs, it's his first time in 10 years that he's actually going to the playoffs. He's at Indianapolis and he states, ‘I should be one of the older guys showing the younger guys how to get it done but yet for me, it's 10 years and I've only been in it once. You think about that guy in terms of what he's been able to do, a great player. But yet, the opportunity has escaped him until this moment. Let's not, I don't think anybody does, but let's certainly not take it for granted. Our guys certainly are not. The real goal is to take advantage of the opportunity that we have and that's going to be a difficult task against a very, very good football team that's playing absolutely at its best right now. We have to make certain that we use these next couple days, in terms of our practice, to get ourselves ready to go."
On S James Ihedigbo saying they had a really great practice yesterday: "That's an accurate assessment. It's a bit strange because of the fact that this team has been a team that has practiced well all year, but yesterday's walk-though, yesterday's practice was about the best we've had. I think sometimes it's just the urgency of the matter. Like I said, it's not like our practices have been poor, they've been very good, but I do think this time of year brings out the best of you. It'll either polish you up or it'll grind you down, one or the other. Our practice has been crisp, but Wednesday practices have typically been really good. We have to make certain that we stack another one on top of it today."
On if he brings out new things for the playoffs or stick to the same thing schematically: "A little bit of both. But whatever it is you bust out, you better have been working on it for quite some time. You certainly don't want to try something completely different that you're not familiar with because the game speeds up. Often times we've put together this compilation of little clips through the years about this time of year. As a matter of fact, you just reminded me of it. It's called signature moves, it doesn't tell that right at the onset, it shows a number of different players that are doing what they do best. It shows Kareem (Abdul-Jabar) and his skyhook, it shows (Penny) Hardaway with his killer crossover. It goes through all kinds of genres, tennis, anybody that had a real signature move, it's kind of up there. Then you shut the film off and you ask, ‘What is this? What does that mean to you?' Some of the guys will say, ‘Hey that's old-school,' because we had the Iceman (George Gervin) doing a finger roll and all that kind of stuff. The fact of the matter is, what it boils down to is in times of, particularly championship play, and most of those were in the championship like Reggie (Miller) shooting his jumpers, three jumpers in seven seconds or whatever it was against New York (Knicks), but in crucial times, you have to resort to what you do best. That's what you're going to perform best at. You're going to be able to do it faster than any other point in time, but it also means that there is something that you've been saving for a wrinkle here or there."
On when he showed the team this: "He just reminded me, I haven't done it this year. I might have done it a while back or something, I can't remember. I have quite a few things stowed back in my archives there and that's one of them.
On if he plans to show his players that this week: "Not now, I just used it."
On if any of his players have signature moves: "Well, I think that what it shows is where it talks about and what it's trying to relate to is the fact that it's whatever it is that you do well. Why try to do anything else, you know? Be the best you can possibly be. We're not going to go in and try to run Philadelphia's offense, you know, or anything of that nature. So, we have to do what we've been doing. We just got to do it better."
On Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin being considered as a head coach candidate: "I hope it happens for him because he's deserving of it. He's a quality coach and he's outstanding. I've talked to him about it all along. I give him every single thing that I know in terms of preparation and those kinds of things. I've been through it the same time of year that he's going to go through and that kind of thing. We talk about those things in detail, talk about everything he's going to be asked, so he'll be well-prepared for it when it does happen. But for all of us, for him I think in his family, I think he's deserving of it and I think he's going to get one. I think once they get an opportunity to see him and listen to him and watch what he's been able to do, I think it will happen for him. I think that will be absolutely outstanding because I do think that I love ambitious people that are looking to try to improve their lot in life and their career, but we also have a job to do right now. So, we're focused on that more so than anything else. When that time comes, we'll even talk a little bit more in detail about it."
On if other teams besides Atlanta have reached out to Austin: "Yes, sir."
On if he thinks Austin will get a head coaching job this year: "I said I hope he does. I don't know. I interviewed about six or seven times before I actually got one, so I don't know. I'm not sure, but he's deserving of it."
On if teams have to reach out to him to ask about Austin: "No, they request permission to interview him. They have to do it properly."
On what he means when he says the playoffs are ‘faster': "It'd be tough for you to understand until you walk out there on that field. It's the intensity level. It's heightened a little bit more. It's always fast, the game is always fast, it's always tough, it's always gritty. But playoffs, let me just tell you something, it's a little bit different. The atmosphere's different, the electricity in the building is different. I mean, that all adds to it. I think also, you know, it's probably not like the old games. Did you guys play ‘Make it, Take it' when you were coming up on the basketball courts, right? What is it, ‘Rise and Fly?' ‘Winner Take All,' ‘King of the Hill,' right? Often times, you'd find those games to be pretty stirring because of the fact that if there's a lot of teams waiting, you weren't going to get a chance to get back on that court for a long time. Sometimes you could go a day and only play one game, particularly if it's some of the popular parks that were good during those times. I know you weren't hanging out at Rucker Park or anything of that nature, but nevertheless, it's on a bigger scale. Even in that type of environment you could always see the true spirit of competition come out.
The other thing is, what happens is, there are only a few games that are left. The attention that it gets, the media, just the atmosphere in itself, the fans, I mean there's only a few fans that are still rooting for their team. Think about that. Some fans even join other teams because maybe it's their secondary team, or whatever, their team is out. I mean, all of those things kind of just build up and that's what I think adds to the spirited competition that we get."
On if his team will handle this game better than last week at Green Bay: "You never know. I mean, that's why we play the game. But I believe they will because I believe in them. The other thing is, we're going to have to if we're going to continue to play. That's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what we want to find out. I'm looking forward to it."
On why Dallas WR Dez Bryant is such a threat: "Big, strong, fast, great hands, unusual catching radius, highly-competitive. Just a great player and he's got a quarterback that's playing extremely well."
On if there is a defense they have played this season that resembles Dallas': "Sure, I mean, 4-3 teams, they all have resemblance of one another. So, that's probably as much as I'd like to say about it. Yeah, certainly."
On if he plans to go to WR Calvin Johnson and WR Golden Tate more now that it's the playoffs: "If we were, I certainly wouldn't stand up here and tell you that, but I think obviously you consider a lot of different things when you get to the playoffs for a number of different reasons. You may see a guy or two different in terms of our special teams and things of that nature. It does change."
On if this is the best trio (Tony) Romo, (DeMarco) Murray and Dez (Bryant) the team has faced: "There's a lot of great ones in this league to be honest with you. They are operating right now at a pace that's a bit unusual, that no question it's the best that we faced that are playing in the way in which they play at this particular point and time. All of those guys are just operating so well that it's a challenging group."
On if he considers playing WR Golden Tate on special teams because it's the playoffs: "Everything is considered. Everything is looked at, seriously."
On how concerned is he that officials will be on high alert on Sunday: "I'm not concerned. Our officials are of the highest integrity and I don't think they let any bias like that or anything enter into the game."
On if he spoke to Tate about Cowboys S Barry Church's comments: "No I haven't spoken with him about it. Our game is a tough game but also I do think from what I understand the young man said he's playing within the rules, so that's all that matters."