Quotes from Jim Schwartz's Sunday press conference.
On why the team has only four wins despite WR Calvin Johnson and QB Matthew Stafford's prolific statistics: "We've had close games and I think it's been proven in the National Football League that the No. 1 determining factor of success in games is turnover ratio and we've turned it over a lot more this year and gotten a lot fewer turnovers than last year. Last year I think we had six lost fumbles in the whole year; I think we're at 13 right now. So in a game like this, when we lose by...13 after the safety? We lost by 13 and 17 points come off of turnovers. So I think there's no excuse there. We need to do a better job at taking care of the football and also on defense we need to be able to come up with some. Last year we had scores on defense. We haven't gotten any this year and turnovers obviously play a big part. You're not going to have every game where you don't turn one over, particularly when you throw it as many times and things like that. But we need to do a better job of, No. 1, protecting the football but No. 2 getting the football. We've been on the minus side of turnover ratio way too often and it shows in our record."
On if Johnson and Stafford's numbers are hollow because they have come in late-game scenarios when trailing: "I think (it is) if it's late game and you're down multiple scores and you're doing it against prevent defense. We've had very few of those where they were just willing to give up yards. Almost every one of our games has been close where they've been challenging all those plays. I mean, even this last game. Up until the final possession, the game was certainly still in the balance so I don't see that. I mean, it's hollow in the fact that we only have four wins and you'd like for that production to translate to wins and you'd like to be able to celebrate that production with wins, but we haven't been able to do that."
On the lack of big plays from defensive ends despite good play by the defensive tackles: "Yeah, fact is we haven't made as many plays. Last year Cliff and Kyle had a bunch of forced fumbles, fumble recoveries. I think Cliff led the NFL and Kyle wasn't very far behind. We haven't gotten those kinds of plays. We've had, in particular Cliff has forced some fumbles but we haven't got on them and that's been a big difference. But just production-wise from all of our defensive ends, and we go four-deep at defensive end, we roll those guys through, we haven't had much production. Whatever the reason we need to do a better job. People scheme us this year but they schemed us last year, too. That's no excuse."
On what needs to happen to get more production out of the return game: "Its coaches; it's our job to put players in position to make plays. It's player's job to make plays. But then it also reaches a point that if players don't make plays then its coaches jobs to put different players in place there. During an NFL season there's not a lot of opportunity to do that but we'll certainly look at everything."
On if the WR Ryan Broyles and WR Titus Young would have gotten chances at kick returner: "Well both of those guys were drafted with their return abilities as part of their profile, as was Nate Burleson when we brought him here. We were in positions we didn't need to do that but those guys aren't available."
On if WR Patrick Edwards would have gotten a chance at kick returner if he was healthy: "It's hard to say, I mean, he was having a hard time handling them in training camp. I think when you have a returner and then you also have three other guys that can do it, you feel pretty good about that. Obviously three of them aren't available and we haven't done a good enough job with our starter, Stefan Logan."
On if DT Ndamukong Suh is playing his best football recently: "I think he's been playing about the same as he has all year. I think that his reps have increased. I don't know, I'll have to go back and check, but there were very, very few plays that he was out and again, he was playing 65-percent of our snaps before but then to go to probably 95-percent of our snaps, there's something that goes along with that. But he had a great pass rush on the one that him and (Lawrence Jackson) split. He had a big tackle for a loss for us. He made a great play that caused the safety. I think Kyle Vanden Bosch got credit for it and Kyle made a good play on it, too, but Suh's play made it. And those are big plays in the game. Those are drive-type stops in games. There's always things we can do better but he has been playing a lot more reps because of where we are injury-wise and he's made some big plays for us."
On what went through his mind when Logan knelt down on the kickoff: "I've seen a lot of different things in the NFL. I've seen quarterbacks spike it on fourth down for clock stoppage. Last year we played a team that a player ran out of bounds on fourth down to conserve time and didn't get a first down. But that's probably the first time I've seen somebody concede a punt in the field of play like that. It's a poor decision. Like I said last night, part of a returner's job is to know where he is on the field. Saying ‘I didn't know where I was, I thought I was in the end zone,' is not a valid excuse. Your job as a returner is to know where you are on the field, particularly after we had gotten a safety. It looked like the game was lost after we didn't get the fourth down conversion, or fourth down attempt down there. But then when we got the safety, all of a sudden the opportunity to get the ball close to midfield, we probably still would have needed an onside kick, and we would have needed a lot of things to go right for us but we were only 13 down at that point and just like the Tennessee game, we've come back from those situations before but when that error was made it made it very, very difficult to be able to come back because now the team could play prevent defense and just give us 10 yards at a time as long as we were working the clock."
On who else on the roster is available to return kicks: "Mike Thomas does punt and kick return ... more of a punt returner than a kick returner; Joique Bell has worked as a kick-returner. Like I said, we've had a lot of other guys that have rolled through that are no longer available to us, but all those guys ... both of those guys can do it."
On how WR Calvin Johnson has lived up to his offseason contract: "Calvin's just trying to go out and play. He's trying to work hard and do the best that he can. He's not trying to live up to a contract. I think the only thing we really need to look at is wins. Personal records are great and we certainly celebrate the season that Calvin has had, but it hasn't translated to enough wins. We need more help around him. Like I said, there's a lot of things to go into that. It hasn't gone according to plan with a lot of guys, particularly some injuries, but again that's no excuse. We have to find a way to be able to get some production other than him. He had seven explosive plays in the game. I don' t know that I've seen that before from one individual player.
"Calvin has improved every single year from when we got here just developing his whole game, running the whole (route tree), going from being sort of a one-dimensional outside receiver to playing the slot, in-breaking routes, runs after the catch. You saw it all from him: he can run over a guy, he can out-run a guy. But we need to be able to do more on offense. It was disappointing our run game. Atlanta came into the game averaging 4.5 allowed per rush attempt. We were under four in the game. We need to do a better job running the ball because that's one of the ways we can take some pressure off of Calvin. We want to target him. We want to get the ball in his hands, that's always a good thing for us. But we can give him more room to operate if we run the ball. We can give him more room to operate if other guys can make big plays. We had no other explosives in the game other than Calvin."
On if that's some of the reason for the red zone problems: "Our best opportunity on the one was a quarterback draw. And one guy got a hand on Matt, but it was open. It was there when you're doubling Calvin the way that is. There was going to be opportunity there, but yeah when he gets down in the red zone, it's very rare - and this goes from game one all the way to now - that he doesn't get doubled. When we beat the Rams in the opener, the reason we scored on the last play to Kevin Smith was because all the attention - Calvin drew three people on the play. If people chose to do that, then we have to have the ability to make them pay in another spot and we haven't been able to do that this year whether it's running the ball, whether it's throwing to tight ends, whether it's throwing to other wide receivers, quarterback scrambles, whatever it is, we haven't made enough explosive plays. That's certainly limited our opportunities in the red zone."
On giving more chances to Johnson in the red zone: "Yeah, I mean we threw the one corner route to him and that was a blitz situation. They went all-out blitz on that and that's right where we went. I think there is a line there between trying to make good decisions. Our one interception on the day was a deep shot for Calvin. It wasn't a red zone play, but it was a deep shot trying to take advantage of Calvin down the field. Both the corner and the safety played so far off of it that there was really no way to really get in. Matt (Stafford) and Calvin both tried to adjust the route, but we ended up getting it intercepted. So, there is a fine line between there. But going into every game we scheme plays for him and want to try to get him the ball."
On what Johnson's encore to breaking this record would be: "I think the encore would be success as a team which we're all judged on. We're all judged on success as a team. Football is the greatest team game there is. Baseball is a lot more of an individual one-on-one match-up and things like that. I think just about anybody can tell you the championships that Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird had, but they forget how many points they scored and stuff like that. One of the best things about Calvin is he's not a selfish player. He's going to do whatever he can. And I said it early on, I think it was last week, when you guys ask about the record, it's like, ‘Well you need like 300 yards.' But that would probably put us in a pretty good position to win the game and it's the same thing week in-and week-out with him. If it helps us win, he's certainly willing to do it. Threw him a pass on a run play on the very first play of the game, got four yards exactly like we try to expect out of our run game right there. There's nothing he's not willing to do."
On Johnson creating a standard that won't be broken for a long time: "I don't know. Yeah with him, we've seen him make some catches and then say, ‘Jeez, never seen anything like that before.' I think the game has changed a little bit. I don't know how many we'll have this year, but last year what did we have - three 5, 000 yard passers? In the history of the National Football League it had only been done a couple times before that. So I think the game is changing a little bit so the opportunity to throw it more and better passing offenses and things like that. Like I said, I think we're only seeing the beginning of Calvin Johnson. This is not...when his career is said and done, this is not going to be the thing that people talk about."
On if anybody was unable to finish the game: "Yeah, (DT) Sammie Hill's got a foot that we're looking at. Everybody else we'll just get on progression. (TE Brandon) Pettigrew wasn't able to play again but again, as long as he's not on IR we're still hopeful that we can get him out. Brandon's a really prideful guy and doesn't want to be out of the game. He wants to be out there but we'll just have to see how he progresses."
On the value of S Louis Delmas having been available to play back-to-back games: "Yeah, he seems to be on the upswing there as far as being able to bounce back and do some of the things that he wasn't able to early in the year. You see some of the plays he makes on the field; he's a difference makes. Made some big tackles. (Falcons TE) Tony Gonzalez had one catch for nine yards and that was on one of our linebackers, so both (S) Don Carey and Lou Delmas did a good job of getting him covered."