Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Quotes from Friday's media session with Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On the anonymous comments from a Lions player about DT Ndamukong Suh and how troublesome it is that it's come from within: "I don't even know if it's coming from within. I think that before when we had anonymous source criticizing and everything else, we took the approach of we're not going to comment on that and I think I'll take the same approach here. When we start responding to reports or anonymous sources it just further cheapens this whole thing. We go on the record for what we believe and how we react and stuff like that and just end it there."
On talking to the team leaders to figure out if there is fracturing going on in the locker room: "I think any time that you lose, particularly four games that we've lost that have been literally one play, it can be... it is very disappointing. It would be very frustrating for a team. But like you said it's up to the leaders of the team to stay together. You need to be able to keep that in context. A lot of times from a player's standpoint, particularly some of the ways that we lost, it wasn't one play in the game. It was maybe six plays, and if we make one of those six we have a very good opportunity to win. That's hard on players because you go and lose the game, and they all feel as though they were the one that made the play that could've lost the game. Sometimes it's easier to get beat 42 to nothing. Player drops a touchdown pass or has a penalty, looks at it and says, ‘Jeez it didn't really cost us the game.'
"So it's always - anytime you lose it's difficult in sports in general. Professional sports, college sports, anything else it's always a difficult situation. But I think in this case it's even a little tougher because of the way that we've lost those games and from a coaching standpoint, from a player standpoint, everybody feels responsible and everybody's anxious to do better."
On how he addressed that with the team today if at all: "Well, I mean I have addressed it, but I'm not going to go into things like that. I've never gone to you guys with what's said behind closed doors because there's a reason that we say them behind closed doors. I think that's one of the things that's gotten astray in this whole thing. Some things are best left in meeting rooms and locker rooms and things like that. As we continue to peel the curtain back more and more and try to make this all into a soap opera. There's less and less of it that stays where it should. Things that I say to the team I'd like to keep between me and the team."
On how you prevent the flood gates from opening after losing four straight: "We're not worried about that. We're worried about the Green Bay Packers, and if we're worried about anything else we're not going to play very well on Sunday. We need to keep our concentration on the Green Bay Packers. They have nothing to do with the other stuff that's happened even though they were one of the games. Go out and practice and stay focused on the next opponent. That's what we need to do."
On WR Nate Burleson, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Corey Williams being good leaders and WR Calvin Johnson and QB Matthew Stafford seeming quieter than them and if they can do more: "Everybody can do a little more, but I'm very happy with the leadership on our team. All those guys have a little different personality; some guys talk a lot more, some guys don't. It just goes beyond our captains on our team. You mentioned some of those other guys. I think it's up to each individual, it's up to all the players to find a way to pull together."
On if it is unfair to hang so much of the blame on the last play of the game in regards to Suh: "We haven't done that. I mean if somebody else has done it than that's on them. But we haven't done it, and we've never taken the approach of saying what our breakdown is. Hey, if our offense breaks down or our defense breaks down that's the only thing that matters. Whether a guy drops a catch or misses a blitz pick-up or does anything-misses a coverage. It's the defense that breaks down or the offense and that's what happened in this case. So to respond to the people that want to assign blame, again we're just you know... we've gone about it the wrong way."
On using the 2010 season as a springboard in terms of winning the last four games and going on to win five consecutively in 2011: "We're certainly trying to win every single game we play. If that's the question, yeah we definitely want to go out and win the last four. We can't worry about the last four. We can only worry about this next one that we are playing. There were some similarities, some differences but some of the similarities were that we played a bunch of close games in that year. We lost an overtime game to the Jets that really rings a bell, had a chance late against Buffalo. We didn't make that play. Came back and made a few at the end of the game. Miami we came back and made a couple big plays to win. As much as been said about the way that we've finished these last three games in particular, we also have times this year where we've made those plays. The end of the St. Louis game. Philadelphia we had to go out and get a stop on defense and we got it. We certainly have it within our grasp to be able to do it. We just have to be able to go out and get it done during crunch time."
On how much the end of the 2010 season helped in 2011: "I think any time you win a game it helps from an experience standpoint, from just the team, from your record. That's what you strive to do every single week so it certainly helped us as a franchise. We can do the same thing over these games but again it starts with Green Bay on Sunday."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET:
On DT Ndamukong Suh's new accusations coming from within: "All I care about is Ndamukong and our football team and everything's good. The thing about it is this time of the year all kinds of things are said and done and we're trying to win a game. I know where his head is and mine and defensive players. We have a job to do and that's what we're going to do.
On criticism sounding like it was based on that final play: "We all rushed the passer and one guy fell down, and the nickel did a poor job, he never saw it. It was good coverage and we misplayed it and what a time to misplay something. That happened to me one other time in San Diego and it's just so disheartening. You could have done this, you could have done that and everybody in the stands, in the city, in the state could have done something, but you're the ones that have to do it-make the call and he escaped to the right, which he does frequently and we had him bottled up all day and I'm not going to put that on any player. It happened and we have to get better. That's all.
On the 4 touchdown drives late in the game in the last 3 games: "I'm going out of my mind. I'll be honest with you. There are some things that are happening that I've never seen in my life. We had 13 3-and-out series. Now let me explain how that works. When you get the ball, you have three plays and you must punt on the fourth play or it doesn't count. We have 37 of those, which ranks as about fourth or fifth, may be higher than that in the League. In this last game, we had seven. In the game before that, we had six. That's impossible-13. That's really one game with all 3-and-out series, where they don't move the ball at all. That said, I cannot figure out what happens to us because we had drives within those games. Well you can't go out there six, seven times in a game and go 3-and-out and then give up touchdown drives. It just doesn't work that way. There's something in the water on the sideline I think, but we have to find the answer and straighten that out.
On if it's performing under pressure: "It could be. I don't know. The issue is, you know what the issue is, we've had a lot of different guys play back there. And I'm not sitting here making excuses, but you put one nickel in and he goes down, you put the next one in, he's never played in there before and that's-you can survive things X amount of time. I've had to do this in one other year and that was in 2008 in Kansas City when I started seven rookies on defense and we would play them toe-to-toe every game. Fourth quarter was tough on us. And we can't allow that to happen here. We have to figure out a way to get that solved and solve it fast obviously.
On the DT Nick Fairley and Suh combination: "Well I think ... I track it back to an incident that happened on the field. We were out on the grass field and Fairley was on a knee behind the whole team and it looked like he was really down about everything. And Suh came over to me and asked me to go talk to him. He said Gun, this guy is a really good football player. He said, ‘Now I don't know if it will help, but go talk to him.' I went over to talk to Fairley and I said, guess who asked me to come talk to you? And he guessed about four guys. And then I looked at him and I said 90. Immediately he got off the ground and ran over and started talking to Suh and they haven't stopped talking since that point. And it's really carried over on the field. They like each other. They play well together, but the good thing out of last game was Corey Williams came off the bench and probably rushed the passer better than I've ever seen him rush him in my life. So the competition and the ability of Fairley and Suh and Sammie Hill to some degree is really starting to pay off. I just wish it would have happened earlier. But like I said, maybe a week ago, all those dynamics take time.
"Well, in order to play together and play well together, you have to feel the other guy. You have to understand him. You have to know him. You have to feel his athletic skills, his speed and I think that's what those two guys have. They know each other pretty well and I really enjoyed watching the tape. We lost the game, but I focus on that group inside and I've never seen two guys do things they've done the last two or three weeks.
On what S Tyrell Johnson brings to the defense: "Well, I scouted him hard when I was in Kansas City. We were going to draft him and Minnesota took him before us. I felt at one stage, he could play corner in college. He's not that kind of guy, but he's got good speed, very good speed. He's a great character guy. Corey Williams and he are pretty good friends so I asked Corey all about him. We've tried to talk about it the last three or four weeks - Martin, Jim, myself - and we finally got him in here. He's not going to be ready for this game obviously, but he's got what you're looking for. Hopefully he makes it and he's had an injury and he's rehabbed from that. It was a pretty good hamstring. He looks good right now. He's got good foot speed, good speed overall so I'm looking forward to seeing him play.