Quotes from Thursday's media session with Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On WR Calvin Johnson being selected to go to the Pro Bowl: "Yeah, I think it's probably the biggest slam dunk in Pro Bowl balloting. We're proud of him. We're proud that he represents us, we're proud when he's on the field on Sundays."
On if he ever believed 2,000 yards would be attainable by anyone: "You know the game's changed a little bit. Teams aren't afraid to throw it 50 times a game. It used to be you threw it 50 times a game because you were losing and you had to catch up, but you see teams all over the League now that throw it a bunch of times and score a lot of points. So, (the) League's constantly changing, so I don't know how much any record, offensively in particular, can stand. The receivers catch a lot more balls. Just the way it is."
On 2,000 yards having legs if Calvin were to achieve it: "I think that he's a great player, and I wouldn't discount anything that he is capable of doing."
On if three or four receivers catching balls balances out a pass-heavy offense: "A little bit. I think that there is definitely something to that. But that's not the situation we're in right now."
On if Calvin achieving more receiving yards than his prolific 2011 performance speaks to his work ethic: "He's always been a hard worker, and he's always set high goals for himself and for the team. Last year when he had that season, I think it was said then also, ‘Hey we're just scratching the surface of Calvin Johnson.' This year, I think we can say the same thing. We're only scratching the surface. When it's all said and done, we're not going to be talking about this being the highlight of his career. He's going to do a lot of great things."
On evaluating the offense throughout the season and putting performances into context: "We turned the ball over too much. I think the bottom line of this League is score points and scoring enough points to win. For an offense, bottom line for the team is winning, but an offense needs to put points on the board. Particularly with turnovers, we've had yardage where we've turned the ball over down in tight. Whether it's a four-down turnover or a fumble or an interception, we've had too many of them this year. We haven't scored enough points for our liking, which has led to not winning enough games."
On if that is a result of having several injuries on offense: "It is what it is. We don't have those guys on the field. But it's our job to still try to find a way to be effective and try to find a way to score the football and try to find a way to win the games. We haven't done a good enough job of that this year."
On Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan: "I think he's done a great job. Again, particularly the ball security stuff. An offensive coordinator's job is to put guys in position to make plays, and I think that over the course of the season we've been in good position to make plays. The fact that we still have been able to continue to get the ball to Calvin...it was one thing when all those other guys were healthy and we have a lot of other options. A lot of times people would say, ‘Hey you forget about Calvin a little bit when you have all those options?' Well we really haven't and defenses have known that too. They've taken the approach of trying to take him out of the game plan. Scott's have done a good job of creating ways to still get him the football and Matt's (Stafford) done a good job of delivering the football."
On what the Bears did to effectively shut Calvin down in their first match-up this year: "Well, (CB Charles) Tillman did a good job in coverage. I think that they did a good job of pressuring the quarterback and a lot of balls came out before we could really get to the break-point in some of the routes and those will be two things that we have to do a better job of on Sunday. We'll have to protect that. That was one of the first games that we started to see blitz show up. Early in the season teams had taken a prevent-type attitude toward our offense and Chicago, particularly in Chicago, has taken an approach of heating up the offense a little bit with some pressure. That was a game that we lost (WR Nate) Burleson fairly early in that game. I don't know if that changed their game plan, but we need to buy some more time for the quarterback, we need to run the football better. Turnovers again - we had two turnovers down in plus territory in that game. In a tight game, 13-7 game, that one play could have made a difference. So protect the football, buy some time for the quarterback. I think those are important to be able to continue to get Calvin the football and for him to have a big impact in the game."
On the credit Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Jefferson's deserves for Calvin's development: "Yeah, he's been with him pretty much his whole career through two different staffs and Calvin has developed as a receiver. Each year he's gotten better at something else. Whether it's blocking, whether it's inside routes, playing from the slot, run after the catch, all those different things, he's improved on. Shawn's been a big part of that."
On if Calvin has improved on protecting himself as far as landing after leaping catches: "I don't know. His body is still sort of out there and he still takes a lot of hits. You've seen that this year. When you're -foot-5, there's a lot to hit and when you jump as high as he does, and go up and go up and get footballs in traffic - he doesn't shy away from catching the ball in traffic. He doesn't shy away from run after the catch, you saw that last week. Had to get some balls from shallow crosses and turned up the field. He showed his speed, he showed his run after the catch ability. He's taken a bunch of hits and he's willing to go do that to make the catch. I think that is another sign of a great receiver."
On why he thinks DT Ndamukong Suh didn't make the Pro Bowl: "We're not allowed to vote for our own guys so...didn't get enough votes."
On if thinks Suh deserved to be in the Pro Bowl: "Yeah, I think he's had some games where he's really been dominant. And I think he's had a good consistent year. Again, we can't vote for our own guys. There's probably a reason for that because we'd vote for all our own guys. We're happy with the guys that we have and we think they can all do a good job."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On Calvin Johnson setting the single-season yardage record: "Well, nothing that he does ceases to amaze me. He's always taken it up another notch every year. He's taken it up maybe a couple this year. He's had to pick up the slack too for some guys missing but gladly does it. It's so impressive what he does, but it's more impressive the way he goes about his business and that's what kind of sets him apart from a lot of other guys."
On what he can do differently to improve Johnson's production against the first matchup against the Bears: "Well, I think we're obviously going to have to put him in different positions and we've done that and we do that all the time. We've still got to let the game come to us there. There's going to be even more attention on him with our receiving depth the way it is. If you're not going to get attention going into last week then you're never going to get it so I just think we go through the game. Guys have got to be good around him. But I think he'll still have a productive game the way he's locked in."
On if he's ever seen a team that punches the ball out like Chicago: "They've always been that way. They're having their best year doing it. I mean, I think Charles Tillman has double digits, which he's always been one of the best if not the best at least in the current era of football. It's coached. They did it when they were all together as assistants with Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay and they're doing it now. I remember the year that Lovie was coaching, he was the assistant for Mike Martz in St. Louis and they had an unbelievable year like this where they had a bunch of forced fumbles and interceptions. You've got to tip your hat to them and then in the same sense you've got to avoid them. We had two red zone non-scores from fumbles last game and that cost us."
On if he ever thought 2,000 receiving yards was possible: "Not really, but there's probably never been a guy like (Calvin). So like I said, he's kind of reset what's realistic in today's game."
On why 2,000 receiving yards has so far been unattainable: "Well, we throw the ball a lot for one thing. Teams are throwing the ball more. We're getting more plays. In the old days you sat there, say on the clock, milked the clock down, 60 plays was a common NFL game. Now good offenses are getting 70-80 plays a game so you're getting more, probably a possession or two more than you would. I hear people talk about it being a passing League, and I think a lot of teams are throwing the ball but you still have to have that special type of player that can beat double, triple coverage even in that sense. If you've got a guy like Calvin I think it's obviously a mark that we're at least talking about now."
On if the team has thrown more than he would have liked: "Well, I would say yes. You throw as much as you need to win, but we've been in games, especially in the second half of the season, where we've been behind and thrown more. Generally speaking you don't want to have 50 attempts in a game unless that's your game plan ahead, behind or not. Because if you do, usually, you're trying to catch up. Probably in the second half of the season, not all the games, we were ahead in a number of them but we had a number of games where we had multiple possessions of two-minute drives we threw the ball quite a bit so I think those numbers are up there a little bit because of that."
On Bears S Major Wright saying Stafford folds under pressure and if that's something he needs to work on: "No. I think a guy that's thrown for nearly 10,000 yards and almost 60 touchdowns in two seasons holds up pretty good out there."
On if he is disappointed with scoring touchdowns: "We haven't thrown as many. We're not that far off from our amount of touchdowns. I mean, we haven't thrown as many. We're way up on rushing touchdowns. Going into the last game or the game before, we were like one (off) in touchdowns going into our red zone scoring and all that kind of stuff. So when the dust settles we've got to look at it, but touchdowns are definitely a good thing to improve on in any facet for an offense."
On Stafford's attempts record and what an ideal number of passing attempts would be: "I don't know. I mean, in our offense he's going to be up there. He's going to be in the top five in attempts regardless of what the number is. But when you're talking attempts, usually the passing teams that I've seen, they're getting their rushing yards in the fourth quarter with a two or three score lead. That's just the way football is."
On his four minute offense: "Well, for sure. Your goal is to finish with the ball in your hand. A couple weeks ago we started in a backed up situation, flipped the field...you want to finish with it. There are a lot of things that factor in to four-minute, but really the position we've been in to seal off games has been minimal. We've been in more positions where we've got to try to come back and win games and we were able to do that. Last year I don't know how many fourth quarter comebacks we had, we had a couple this year. So there's different ways of approaching the fourth quarter. We'd definitely like to approach it with you go into that fourth quarter with a touchdown or a couple score lead, finishing with the ball in your hands is your goal as an offense."