USA TODAY Sports
Quotes from Wednesday's media session with Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On DT Nick Fairley going onto IR: "Well the decision was that No. 1 he wasn't going to be able to play. Number two, it was a situation that he could have potentially made worse and gone from being a short-term thing to being a long-term thing. It's a little disappointing to lose him for the last three games, but I think you look back on his season he's shown every reason that we drafted him and he's well on his way to becoming a quality player in the NFL."
On if Fairley will avoid surgery for now: "Yeah, I don't think it's on his radar now, but he's going to need some rest time."
On depth issues at defensive tackle and wide receiver, two positions of depth going into the year: "I think we have some positions that we had some depth. Defensive back wasn't one of them. That is what it is. Offensive line I think we have some pretty good depth. We had some depth on the defensive line and wide receivers. We were trying to answer a bunch of questions last year how do you draft a wide receiver in the second round and all that different stuff. Well, we were very fortunate last year that we didn't lose a snap to our wide receivers all season to injury. This year it wasn't the same way. Even Calvin, who's sort of the last man standing of that group has battled through his own injuries. It's amazing the production that he's been able to have. Defensive line, particularly our defensive tackles ... our ends have stayed fairly healthy but our defensive tackles, we've relied on a four-man rotation. With Corey Williams' injury situation all year, we lost a lot of that. But because of Nick's emergence, you never really noticed it. But now losing Nick, we expect Sammie to step up. We brought Fluellen back who played a lot of football for us. Like you said, it's next man up. It's a great opportunity for a guy like Sammie Hill to go out and get more reps than he has maybe since his rookie year."
On Atlanta is a tough offense for anybody to contend with: "Last year they made a bold move to go up and get Julio Jones. After getting beat in the playoffs by-I think it was Green Bay-they thought that they needed more firepower. They were a team that gave the ball to Michael Turner and got the ball to the tight end and made an occasional big play outside, but they made a very bold move to move up, gave up a lot of draft picks to get Julio Jones. And last year he had a rookie year. When we played here at Ford Field, he wasn't even in the game. I think he had a hamstring. He had a lot of ups and downs and I'm sure there were a lot of people that were questioning - hey you gave up too much and all the other things. Well this year you look and you see exactly why they made that bold move. The production of Julio Jones with nine touchdowns has complimented Roddy White. Both of those guys have very impressive numbers and it's also helped the tight end get open. And their run game is still-they've been doing more passing this year-but their run game is just as effective. Good quarterback, two very big targets on the outside, both of them multi-dimensional. They can throw the ball down the field. They're very good run after the catch on short routes. There's nothing else you can say about Tony Gonzalez. He's a hall of fame tight end. We'll have to play our very best on defense."
On if he expects to see more pressure from defenses (like Arizona did) than they have in the past: "We'll see. Everybody has a little different game plan. But you're right. Early in the season we saw a lot of prevent-type defenses. With some of our injuries and things like that a couple teams have taken the approach of trying to challenge. It's been impressive that Calvin's been able to have the production that he has when he's been such a marked man, but we need guys to step up and make plays on offense. Not everybody has to be Calvin, but we need to get contributions from a lot of different guys. Against the Cardinals, Stefan Logan went in, made a first down catch, had another catch that was down deep in the red zone. Kevin Smith had a 13 yard screen for a first down. We didn't get enough contributions from the other guys. And I think that we need to get plays out of everybody else on offense whether it's tight ends, other wide receivers, and running backs. We need to get first downs. We need to make big plays. If we do that, it will compliment Calvin well and to do that they're going to have to win some one-on-ones."
On John Abraham, whose career numbers are terrific: "A very good pass rusher and he's been consistent. I don't know that he flies under the radar of offensive coordinators and offensive line coaches-seems like he does a little bit nationally. He's a marquee defensive end in the NFL. He's got a scheme that fits him very well. They've done a good job of using him. He's done a good job of making the plays."
On giving players playing time just for experience similar to baseball or basketball: "They have a lot more games than we have. You have a 162 games you can sit your catcher every day game after a night game and say, ‘Well he's got to last 162.' Every game in the NFL is urgent. You don't have time to experiment I guess, for lack of a better word. You have to go with the guys that you think give you the best chance of winning every single week. If you start looking at things other than that, you're on the wrong track. We'll continue to make the decisions that we think give us the best chance to win that particular game but not have any other reason for guys playing."
On not experimenting now even when they playoffs are out of reach: "I don't think that changes. I think if you have a philosophy, if you have a way of doing things you can't change because of circumstances. I think a couple years ago that was one of the things that got us out of that losing streak that we had. If we're going to get out of it again we can't change courses, we can't change philosophy. The pressure is on every week to do what we can to win that game. If we keep our eye on that then we will be on the right track."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On if he has ever seen any team double a receiver in punt formation: "I think I told Calvin, I said ‘I saw Green Bay do it to (Randy) Moss my first year.' But they always did it with a linebacker and then they added him in. They didn't keep two guys on him it was more of a ‘don't let him get started.' This was like a punt and they held him. I guess you can hold him at the line of scrimmage, I don't know. That was their plan. It definitely discourages your ability to get a guy the ball."
On Johnson beating the punt coverage defense: "First time he won. I think Matt just decided he was going to be covered and went elsewhere on the read which was what he was supposed to do. But Calvin actually beat the vice."
On what he would do to stop Calvin Johnson: "I don't know. I mean, I think most people go with the philosophy that contain him, keep his numbers to a manageable number. And you do that by what people are doing with two or three guys."
On Atlanta's 18 interceptions: "Well they've got an excellent secondary with very good ball skills, so when they get the ball thrown to them they catch it. That's the No. 1 thing. They've got as good a secondary as a group as we'll play. I mean, they've got 10 interceptions just from their safety position. That's big time production."
On Stafford getting pressured against the Cardinals: "Well, we were behind the chains in this game. A lot of third downs and long. And then once we got behind in the game we're pretty much one dimensional, so they had a very good pass rush and that was probably... the quarterback's going to be affected by a defense teeing off like that so I'm sure that was part of it."
On Stafford's two interceptions returned for touchdowns: "They were good plays. Any time you get the ball picked off it's not a good play for you on offense. But it's trying to make a play. It's down a couple scores, you've got to make a play on fourth down. Every one of our turnovers last week came after a very frustrating penalty, so you were trying to get back on track. If we stay ahead in those situations then we don't back ourselves up. It takes a little less pressure or puts a little less pressure on the quarterback to have to make a play."
On if TE Brandon Pettigrew's absence has revealed his importance: "He and maybe five other guys. He's a big part of our offense. He's been our second leading receiver and big chain mover and guy we go to in third down and the red zone. You take one of those key components out, it puts a little more of an emphasis on using some other guys. And we've got very capable players that are doing a good job of stepping in."
On the penalties: "Penalties are something we've got to minimize and I think we've, from previous years, we've done, up until this last game, done a good job of keeping those penalties down from false starts and things like that. It was really our first game where we got behind in a couple situations. We've got to correct that and not let it happen again."
On the receivers other than Johnson: "We believe in the guys. We wouldn't put them on the field if we didn't believe they could go out and do the job and they've got opportunities now with the injuries, and I'm looking forward to those guys being able to step in and show us that they're very, very capable of doing the things that we did with the previous group. It's a challenge but it's a good challenge and it'd be good to know moving forward after these next couple games what some of these guys can do for us."
On the advantage of having multiple receivers like the Falcons: "Well, advantage or not, we've just got to go out and, you know, Matt and Calvin have a great history with each other. We've been able to get about two, three good weeks now with Durham and some of the other guys that are playing. I just think Scheff's snaps are up. Scheff's been here for three years. So these guys are very capable and we're just worried about taking care of what we got to do. Matt's punches with them, they got a high scoring offense but our concern is going against their defense. Their defense has probably played its best game maybe in years last week against New York. Interesting challenge but a fun challenge and our players are really looking forward to it."
On how important it is to get Johnson the record: "Well, you're concentrating on winning the game. I mean, that's what you're concentrating on and, you know, Calvin's certainly going to have opportunities. Records are great individual accomplishments and we take very much pride offensively for him to reach it. But our number one concern right now is doing the best we can to beat Atlanta."
On if he is disappointed in the new receivers' production last week at Arizona: "Not disappointed. I just think that we've got to do better in that situation. Obviously, the challenge is there because we've got new guys that have not done that, but that's the reality we're in. I think the guys have got to respond this week. We're going to see very similar-type looks. I would expect a very similar-type game plan that we got last week. You know, all we need is to have one play from every guy that we didn't have last week. You know, Calvin's going to have his, but every guy has to have a play that's made. Stefan (Logan) made a play last week that kept the drive alive and made a big-time third down conversion. You know, Kevin came in on a third down and hit a big screen. If we can get a big play from each group that is now playing, that'll keep our drives alive and allow us to move the ball and score points."