Following Friday's practice, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan chatted with the media. Below is a look at what they had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On the growth of rookie T Riley Reiff: "Well, I think that number one, Riley is coming, you know, physically, mentally, experience wise, all those things. And I think that combined with our offensive line played probably their best game of the year against Philadelphia. We run blocked well. We protected well. No sacks and even the quarterback didn't get hit very often. You know, it's one thing taking sacks if he's just throwing away and getting hit, but we averaged almost five yards a carry. I think 5.1 for run plays and protected the quarterback. That's what you expect out of an offensive line. So those guys all played well and Riley's been a nice addition to that."
On outscoring opponents 73-51 in the fourth quarter: "I think in some cases it's just been the urgency of having to do it. We've been behind in a couple. We do have fire power and we can score. We can get as hot as anybody in the League. Guys are resilient. Guys are mentally tough and they don't give up on the game. I think all those things combined, but it's about the talent on the field. Those guys can make plays and you can't do those, you can't make those up if you can't get defensive stops too. Our defense has come up with some big stops. Going back to St. Louis in the opener there was a third down stop, got the ball back for the offense. You know this last game, had that big stop at the end of regulation and had that big stop in overtime. They all go hand-in-hand."
On WR Calvin Johnson going up against Bears CB Charles Tillman: "I don't know that it's, you know, Calvin's a great player and Tillman has played well. He's made big plays and he's, you know, played Calvin. But I think you can't really think of it that way. They're going to go out. They're going to compete, you know, they're going to make plays and we're going to make plays. We've got to make more. If we do that we'll win the game.'
On RB Mikel Leshoure's progression through this point in the season: "He took, I don't want to say a step back, but Week 2 he was banged up a little bit. His second week in he didn't look the same. He was very efficient in the first week but didn't break off a whole lot of, you know, kind of longer runs. But I thought last week we saw definite improvement from him. You know, from yards per carry, from aggressiveness and making cuts and getting north, south and doing all those things. He's definitely, you know, we're talking about a rookie. You talked about Riley Reiff before, I mean, he's improving every game."
On getting to 3-3 after starting the season 1-3: "It would mean that we beat the Bears. I mean, that's enough. You know, NFC North team, they're in first place in our division and, you know, that would be, that's the most important thing. It's not what happened in the first five games. It's not what's going to happen after that. It's the urgency of an NFC North game on the road, you know, division opponent. That's the most important. Two teams that, again, know each other very well. Not going to be a whole lot of surprises in this one."
On WR Titus Young's knee hindering his performance: "You know, it's been on the radar but I think it's been more of a practice issue as far as amount of practicing and stuff like that. You know, I think that he's working very hard to put it behind him. But, you know, we don't make any excuses for Sundays."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On scoring earlier: "Well, we would love to score touchdowns, and we're trying to. But it takes a while. I've watched a lot of football games and I don't think many of the NFL games are 21-14 at the end of the first or anything like that. We've played some pretty good defenses in these first five games, too, if you really look at the people we're playing they're pretty stingy there. So, it'll come around. The bottom line is at the end of the day we want to finish with more points than the other team and that's what we're trying to accomplish."
On if scoring early sets things up later in the game: "Always does. In a perfect world you take a big lead and you ride it home. But, like I said, you've got to give credit to the teams we've been playing. They've got some pretty good fellas that we're trying to move the ball on and score on and we just got to keep plugging away. We're improving and making adjustments as the game goes on which is a very positive sign."
On scoring a lot in the fourth quarter: "I think we do a good job. I think coaches and players do a good job of staying in the game, making adjustments to how people are playing us. You know, the first game of the year we were getting prevent defense the whole game. The next game we're getting a lot of drop-eight. So, as you go through it you've got to make adjustments and the key is that you do that. It's every bit as important, as critical as us trying to start fast is to be able to finish strong. Once we put the two together I think we'll be able to put together a complete game."
On how close T Riley Reiff is to starting: "Yeah, I look at him as a starter now because he's playing, you know, 25-30 plays a game. So it's kind of like Titus Young plays a lot more plays some games. Sometimes he starts games, sometimes he doesn't. He's getting close. I don't know what day that day will be. A lot of times the situation of the game takes care of that. But we're getting a lot of good production out of a rookie players and I think he's gaining confidence with his time on the field right now."
On if he will take someone's spot to start in different packages: "Yeah, we're confident that at any point he's ready to go play. We've got a good, solid, confident group of offensive lineman that have played together now 3-4 years now. Riley's day's coming, there's no question in what we see in his production where we play him now. We know that day is coming but right now we're just going game by game, day by day and involving him more in our offense."
On where Reiff will play long-term: "I think he can play either tackle. We drafted him to play left tackle but we also knew he had position versatility. And so, other than center I think he can play any position on the offensive line. That's what really good offensive lineman can do. We haven't really pinpointed that at this point. It's going to basically be based on where we need him first. I think that's going to be where he starts. I think at some point you'll see him settle into a certain role but right now it's his rookie year and he's getting his feet wet."
On if the Chicago Bears' defense has changed in recent years: "Boy, they really haven't. Ever since Lovie's been there it's really been his defense and he's had different defensive guys probably running the defense but he's had a pretty, pretty much the same system. Now that Rod (Marinelli) is back with Lovie from the Tampa days I think you're seeing really the same defense you saw that Tampa Bay ran when they were together as assistant coaches and back together now in Chicago. They believe in it, they run it, they run it extremely well, probably better than anybody in the NFL."
On if he game plans based on wind factors: "You have to be able to, it's part of the adjustment. We were actually able to move the ball, if we didn't turn the ball over in the first two drives, move the ball in those conditions last year. I think last year's game was a great example of the team that got the lead was going to have a big advantage of moving the ball. We had two early fumbles and they were able to get a lead and at that point it's really tough sledding when the weather's a real factor. And that weather was a true factor. I don't know that you ever can control what you're doing or what you're planning on doing in an outdoor game because the weather can be windy, it can be rainy, it can be cold. So you have to have a contingency plan for that and I think what happened last year was because you couldn't throw the ball on the outside part of the field or downfield. We saw a lot of tighter coverage and taking away things that would be higher percentage. That's part of the game. But the biggest thing is both teams have got to play in it. It's not like, you know, it's a disadvantage for us versus them. We all have got to play in it and execute in it."
On RB Mikel Leshoure playing close to home in Chicago: "Yeah, Champagne is home but Chicago's not far away. I know he's got a lot of family and friends coming. I know he's really excited. Those are all special ties for guys, especially young players. He's going to have a little extra incentive to go and show what he can do."
On the progression of RB Mikel Leshoure: "Yeah, well you saw the first game. Very solid first game. Second game he was coming off of a, you know, being pretty sore and not really having his sea legs yet and then he was able to come back after the Bye and really see some production. You see big backs like that as the game wears on, you really saw him start to heat up and warm up getting into the second half. So I think that's going to be his style. He's got to obviously be a guy that you can give the ball to a number of snaps and hold up through four quarters."
On challenging Bears CB Charles Tillman and opening up other receivers: "Well, I mean, Tillman's going to be guarding Calvin (Johnson) and so that's a great matchup. That's two All-Pro type players going against each other. The biggest thing is just executing what we do whether it's a run play or pass play. Everybody on our team and the talent we feel we have on our team needs to have a very specific role for us in this game because, you know, trying to create matchups in your favor against a team as good as Chicago, because matchups, I mean, we're going to win some and lose some when you're playing a team like that. There's no real, "Hey, we've got to try to exploit anything." You really got to do a good job of executing your run game, your pass game, whoever is getting the ball whether it's Calvin against Tillman or whoever against a defense like this."
On what he has seen out of RB Joique Bell: "Producing. You know, his role wasn't real big to begin with. Earned his way up through offseason training camp and produced when we gave him the ball in training camp and preseason games. Then started limited at the beginning of the year, but when he had his opportunities then, produced again and was able to get yards, you know, be able to be productive with the ball even as a receiver. He's shown that part of his game. Just being able to go out there and not only just look like he belongs, but go out there, produce and be effective for us. He's been one of our best guys with the ball in his hands after contact in the run game or after catch in the pass game. So, when you do that, your role is going to increase."
On critics commenting on flaws in QB Matthew Stafford's mechanics: "Well, a quarterback's always working on his fundamentals and Matt's one of the hardest workers, maybe the hardest worker I've ever been around. You know, we work on a daily basis of getting good at that. Analysts are going to have opinions of whatever they do. I don't know how much those guys coach or anything like that. Spend a lot of time putting, you know, that's their job is to have opinions of that. But we just don't focus on that. We focus on what we think we have to work on and what's there. You know, Matt's improving on a weekly basis and doing a great job of executing what we're trying to do and I wouldn't trade him for any quarterback I've ever coached or ever coach. So, they can have their opinions. That's their job, but we're not really a whole lot worried about it."
On why QB Matthew Stafford throws sidearm sometimes: "No, he's always had different throwing angles. Sometimes it's to get under a guy's, you know, some tall reach of a guy and throw it sidearm. Sometimes it's just because of the, you know, slowing down the delivery like a pitcher does on a, you know, an off-speed pitch or something. There's reasons for it and you would never coach that out of him. He's been effective with that and done a great job. I mean, being pretty critical of a guy that's 63-percent completion throwing the ball more than anybody. I mean, second offense, number two offense passing in the League. I mean, you've got to really dig deep to find things wrong with a quarterback that's playing like that."
On QB Matthew Stafford's throwing versatility when sometimes throwing off his back foot: "The reason he does that, and these guys that want to have a perfect kind of quarterback, is because he can. There's some guys that can't and be accurate. Matt can and always has and we'll never change that or coach that out of him."
On if he's talked to RB Jahvid Best since the concussion news: "I've talked to him. You know, he's just moving forward to, you know, hopefully one day we have an opportunity to see him back there. But he's very positive and a lot of things are out of our control. He's in it and around the building and, you know, we don't know what the future holds but staying very positive."