Following Thursday's practice, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan met with the media and talked mainly about Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Via the Lions, here's a look at what they had to say:
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On how the Lions were able to limit 49ers WR Vernon Davis so effectively last season: "He's a good player. He can take over a game the way he did against New Orleans in the playoffs; you have to know where he is on every play. You have to battle him every play. He certainly has our respect. He's proven that he can take over a game. Like I said, I don't know that they'd win that New Orleans game without him."
On the challenge of stopping 49ers RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter: "They have a really good running game. Last year we played well at times against the run, but we let one cutback go across the green on us and we let two plays crease us. They cost us big. Both of those guys are good runners. They have a very good stable of running backs, not just those two. Anthony Dixon had a really good preseason; LaMichael James; Brandon Jacobs. Those guys are all talented ball carriers. It's going to be one of those games that we can't afford one breakdown. I thought we did a really good job last week on (Rams RB) Steven Jackson. His longest run I think was 90 yards. The longest run of the day was 11 (yards). We need to have another day like that. It can't just be 9 out of 10 times."
On this being a statement game: "All counts the same. It counts a little bit more because it's a NFC game. NFC on the road; those are important things against a team that won the West and was in the championship game. That's plenty of reason for it to be an important game. But all 16 (games) are. We only have 16 of them, they're all important."
On a victory against the 49ers changing how the Lions are viewed: "We don't care how people look at us. That's fine for fans and for TV and everything else. Power rankings and all that other crap doesn't mean anything to us. It's about getting the win. Win is what's important; however you can do that. That's the only thing that matters in this League. Everything else is fun for people to talk about. It's great; I mean it's a big game and people are talking and we certainly are excited to play. But we still have 14 games after this one. Whether we win the game or lose the game, we're playing next week."
On the focus being about the game rather than the setting of the game: "Our players get excited to play. The get excited to play Sunday at 1 (p.m.). They get excited to play Monday night, Sunday night, Thursdays, Thanksgiving, all those times. We should be well past the point of needing something like that to get us going. We have a lot at stake in every game that we play. Again, particularly because it's a NFC game and it's a road game. Those are very important reasons for us to win."
On trying to balance the offense: "Like I said, we're never really trying to get balance. We're trying to do whatever we can to score. If that means running it: that's fine. We had second and goal last week; we stuffed it across the goal line. Kevin Smith ran it across on his. We've thrown it for other ones. The only thing that matters is scoring. Get first downs and score. That being said, a run game can help in those areas. In third down and longs, keep you out of those situations which are very tough on a defense like that that have very good pass rushers and people that can turn the clock up quick on the quarterback. But balance is not an objective that we have. The objective we have is score enough to win the game."
On there being good matchups for TE Brandon Pettigrew and the other tight ends this week: "It's a challenge. They have two All-Pro inside linebackers and a couple guys outside that can really rush the passer, and they have a Pro Bowl safety also. Our tight ends are going to have to work for everything they get, just like our wide receivers, just like our running backs. It's not going to be one of those times where you have free access easy time with it. We're going to have to go to work and we're going to have to earn everything and create our shots."
On the common threads he discovered amongst the teams that beat the 49ers last year: "Everybody was a little bit different. I think that we can't really worry too much about other people. We have strengths on our team. We need to worry about playing to those strengths and put our guys in the best position rather than worry about what other teams did to get a win at any particular time. We have a lot of respect for our opponents, but we also have a lot of confidence in our own abilities and confidence in what we can do to affect the game."
On the 49ers looking better to him this year than they did last year: "It's one game and they looked very good in that game. Last year they had a body of work; this year they played very well. Again, the win at Lambeau, that's a very impressive thing to do. I think how we judge our team, how we judge all 32 teams in the NFL, it's not going to come on one game or two games. It's going to come over the course of the season."
On how impressive he finds a 63 yard field goal: "There are only a few guys that have done it. It's very rare that you attempt something like that unless it's either the end of the game or the end of the half. That was certainly an accomplishment. Particularly in a place that isn't high altitude; Denver is one of those places, or a significant wind that was helping, or even indoors where the weather is perfect. That's certainly impressive."
On the talented specialists on the 49ers affecting strategy: "Well I wouldn't discuss strategy or game plan to start with, but those guys are Pro Bowl players; they can flip the field. No. 1 kicking the ball: long field goals, long kickoffs, those kinds of things. The other thing is punting the ball. They can flip the field and play to their defense. We need to do what we do. We need to make good decisions on special teams. We can't change what we do based on the kind of specialists that they have, but those guys are good. They're good at what they do; long field goals, flipping the field, kickoffs, and those kinds of things. We'll see. You never know how the weather is going to be when you get out there. You never know what the situation is going to be in the game, but it always helps to have guys with strong legs and they certainly have two of them."
On if all of the questions regarding how good the 49ers are serve as a motivation to the Lions: "Doesn't really matter. We have a lot of respect for each one of our opponents. We have respect for the Rams, we'll have respect for the 49ers, and we'll have respect for the Titans after that. I think that just goes on a weekly basis, but we have confidence in ourselves. We have some really good players; we can affect the game. I don't know that we need things like that for motivation. We're a team that goes to work. We have talent. We need to play well every week regardless of this week. I think we're past the point of needing a Sunday night game, or a statement game, or anything else. You know what we need to do? We need to go out and win games and keep on winning games and put good performances on top of good performances. We do that and we're going to be happy with our season. If we start worrying about other stuff then we're going to get off track and we don't need to worry about other stuff."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On how much he plans to utilize his tight ends: "I think the game plan kind of takes on its own personality depending on what the defense does, so it's just going to depend. Everybody's alive in our passing game, certainly, depending on how we're being defended and that's why we've got to have everybody ready to have one of those types of games. People focus a lot on our Number 1 receiver, but there's other guys that I think week in and week out are going to have big days for us."
On if WR Calvin Johnson can change the 49ers defensive approach: "I don't think really he does. I think they've been able to successfully be good against the run whether they play the run based on numbers or they play the run based on they just have a really good front and linebackers. I mean, they don't necessarily feel they have to line up with extra defenders in the box to stop the run. That's what they've been successful with and they're really, really, really good at that. Calvin affects every game in some way, but these guys-they play their defense and believe in it and stick with it pretty much."
On their linebackers being considered one of the best: "It would be hard for me to challenge that statement. It would be hard to find a better set of linebackers. They're as good as I've seen in recent years in this League for sure."
On how important it is to start strong against San Francisco: "Yeah, I mean we had two 14-play drives. One was a touchdown and one was a critical error, so I wouldn't say we started slowly last week. Certainly it would be nice to gain a lead on the road, at home, anywhere. We've just got to play all four quarters. Some games play out differently than others but being able to come from behind gives us confidence and we certainly don't mind gaining a lead, but you've got to play the game the way the game plays out and play all four quarters and hopefully you're on the winning end at the end of the game."
On playing on the mushy San Francisco playing surface: "I don't know. I don't think we're expecting bad weather. But, like you said, I think it can be. I think early in the year most surfaces are pretty good, but we're always prepared when we play outdoor games on grass that you've got to be prepared. It's definitely a different surface then when you're indoors. But we practice outdoors all the time, so we feel confident that everything will be fine there and both teams have got to play on the same surfaces, so it's just the way it goes."
On if this is a measuring stick game: "Well, the team that wins this game is going to be 2-0 and that's a pretty good place to be early in the season. Playing on the road, opponent like this, playing well and coming out with a win would certainly be a big boost for us."
On the mindset regarding running poorly and abandoning the run game: "Well, I think, you know, this would be a game where we've got be able to have a certain amount of success doing both. This defense forces you one-dimensional, it makes things pretty tough and they've proven that this year and saw how they were able to win the game last week. So, you know, this is one of the toughest challenges we've had as far as playing an opponent like this defensively, on the road, all the those things. But, our guys are up to challenges and this one here I think they're pretty excited about."
On how teams were able to beat the 49ers last season: "Well, they made some plays that gave them some field position chunks or scores, and that's hard to do against them because they're very stingy against obviously the run. There weren't a lot of plays being made against the run, but they made some plays in the passing game. Whether a guy caught a ball that was challenged and broke a tackle and scored, you're going to have to earn your place against this group. They don't give you much. You know, you're going to have to beat them. They don't beat themselves, and so I think that's what the teams that did beat them last year did."
On how much he can help the defense prepare for facing WR Randy Moss: "You know, my category is to try to get our offense to play well enough to win. Randy Moss certainly is one of the greatest receivers to play this game. I don't think there's going to be any lack of respect for what he can do and you start form there when you're playing a great player. But there's other players other than him on that I'm sure we're accounting for, but you better respect what he can do on all levels on the field because I've seen him do it his whole career."
On how WR Titus Young has responded: "Oh, I think very good. He's worked hard, ready to go and contribute and do a great job for us."
On if anything needed to be said for Young to contain his emotions: "Not really, we've got great leadership. I think guys understand that and he's still a young player. You learn, just being accountable like he's been, that's a great place to start."
On if there is a chance WR Ryan Broyles will be active: "We'll see, it all depends on how things shake out with our active roster and who's going to be able to contribute on special teams and who isn't. We're going to get to a point where he will be, whether it's this week or not will depend on what we decide on Saturday night as far as our active roster."
On if it is important to utilize TE Brandon Pettigrew because of the good 49ers linebackers: "Well, not necessarily. We won a couple, not as many as we'd like last year, but Brandon is a guy that we feel very comfortable utilizing when we're getting those matchups and it's a tough matchup. It's going to be a fun one to watch between him and those backers. We're going to win some and we're probably going to lose some but we've got to stick with it for four quarters."