Lions to retain coach Jim Caldwell for 2017 season

— -- Jim Caldwell, who has said repeatedly over the past few weeks that the conversation shouldn't be about him amid questions about his job status, will return as coach of the Detroit Lions next season, the team announced Wednesday.

Caldwell won't have to worry about that anymore, as a team official told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Lions want continuity on their staff after making the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.?The last time the Lions accomplished that was from 1997 to 1999.

Detroit had a two-game lead in the NFC North heading into Week 15 against the New York Giants?but lost its last three games to slip from a possible division title to a wild-card matchup at NFC West champ Seattle on Saturday night. That slide -- combined with the fact that Caldwell was hired by a previous regime and not current general manager Bob Quinn -- had brought Caldwell's job status into question.

Caldwell is 27-21 with Detroit in three seasons in Detroit. His .562 winning percentage is the best for a Lions coach during the Super Bowl era and is the best since Buddy Parker, who went 50-24-2 from 1951 to '56.

"Job questions come no matter what in our business," Caldwell said last week when asked about his future in Detroit. "That's just kind of the way it is. They happen to you when you're winning it all. They happen to you when you're struggling.

"It's just kind of the nature of the business, so you have to understand that they are going to come."

The Lions started 1-3 this season and rebounded to finish over .500 for the second time in three years. Fewer than half of the franchises in the NFL had been over .500 in two of the past three years.

Caldwell, who is 53-43 in his six seasons as an NFL head coach, has been critical in the development of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has had three of the better seasons of his career under his tutelage. Caldwell and his staff also have had a role in the development of multiple rookies, including this year's first-round pick, left tackle Taylor Decker.

Caldwell chose Teryl Austin, a lifelong assistant, to be his defensive coordinator in 2014, and Austin has turned into a hot head-coaching choice every offseason. Caldwell promoted Jim Bob Cooter to offensive coordinator after firing Joe Lombardi, and the Lions have been 15-9 since.?