After practice on Friday, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham discussed the upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers with the media. Below is a look at what they had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On if CB Jacob Lacey has earned the coaching staff's trust in regards to his secondary play: "He's earned trust since the day he got here. He's a good player. He's a young veteran; has starting experience. (He) played on some pretty good teams in Indianapolis. He knows how to do his job. It certainly hasn't been a surprise to us. We saw good things from him on tape."
On how impressed he was with Lacey's performance in the first game: "I've been more impressed in what he's done in practice and what he's done in meetings and things like that. We've only played one game. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves and judge a whole season on one game or anything like that. We need to be consistent over the course of the season and we're confident that he will be. But that confidence has been built through practices and meetings and walk-throughs and things like that-more than just the first 60 minutes of football we've played."
On whether or no P Ben Graham has a unique way of punting: "It's pretty widespread now. You see a lot of style punters going to that kick. It's becoming more and more common."
On the comments 49ers owner Jed York made at their pep rally: "I don't have any take on it. Like I said, none of that stuff matters on Sunday night and our job is to go play football. We'll do our very best to play football."
On being ready for the entire handshake questioning to be over: "I haven't been worried about it already. I said I haven't been worried about it. It seems as though that's where the NFL and coverage of the NFL is going. To more soap opera stories and stuff like that and we try to keep our concentration on the game."
On shaking Jim Harbaugh's hand at some point on Sunday: "I'm pretty much done with all of those questions."
On QB Alex Smith's lack of turnover-causing plays: "He only had five interceptions last year; takes care of the ball. He's very smart. Had a lot of different coordinators early in his career; I think this may be the first year that he's had the same one for two in a row. But he's very smart with the football and that plays into what they want to do. Sometimes you can get a label as a ‘game manager'. I don't know if any quarterback wants to best be known for not throwing interceptions or not turning the ball over. He goes out and makes plays. He did it last year in the playoffs, he did it down the stretch, and he did in the first game this year. He's more than just the game manager; he's a good quarterback in the NFL."
On stopping the ‘wham play' or first play in the game: "We saw it last year; we stopped it sometimes. A couple times we didn't, just like other plays. Every scheme that we play is a little different way of stopping every single run. We need to fit in the right spots, we need to get all the blocks, we need to tackle and that really doesn't change whether it's a lead play, a wham play, a trap, a sweep or anything else. All the principles are still the same. I think the important thing is that we play good team defense. We tackle well, we hit our gaps. And if we do miss, we miss with leverage so the other guys are there to clean it up. We did a pretty good job of that in the first game and we need to continue in that vein. Long runs can be tough to overcome defensively, and that's a big point that we need to do not only this week but throughout the course of the season."
On the difference all three linebackers on the field makes in the defense: "They're all good players. They're here for a reason. They're good communicators, they're multi-dimensional players, they're good against the run, they're good against the pass and they're all really smart. Like I said with the other question about the run defense, it's not just D-line. The linebackers have to be able to plug the holes that are going to come up front when you have four guys up front, so there are going to be some holes in there and those guys need to hit it and they need to be able to be short tacklers. We were very productive in the first game from our linebacking corps. Couple guys had double digit tackles, tackles for losses. They were aggressive and that helped us get the win in the first week. We're going to need to do the same kind of thing."
On the importance of having CB Chris Houston back even if he isn't at a 100%: "He's played a lot of good football for us and he's a bit of a calming influence on our secondary. He's a veteran player; still young, but he's a veteran player. Seen a lot of different situations and we'll see when we get to Sunday what he can do and everything else. See how he can help and if he can then we'll put him on the field. If he can't, we won't. He is valuable to our defense and I think he does have a calming influence. He's a good player and he's proven it for us."
On WR Ryan Broyles being a game time decision: "I don't have any comments on in-actives or anything else. We'll get to Sunday and we'll put the best group that we can to accomplish what we need to accomplish."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET:
On 49ers QB Alex Smith not getting enough credit for his playmaking ability: "He's a good quarterback. He doesn't start for a winning team because he's a bad quarterback. He can throw it, he can run it and he's really bright. He makes great decisions and they've done a great job. They don't turn the ball over. I think it's been like six games. That's tough to deal with. We're going to have to try and get a couple."
On CB Jacob Lacey: "I asked him about two days ago about the game. I thought he played really well. He had one kind of a leaky tackle but the guy came down. I watched him personally. I did a lot of tapes on him before we signed him. And the week prior to the game he didn't practice very well and I was concerned. I knew I was right. His confidence level wasn't quite there. He wanted to prove to us what kind of player he was. He did. He practiced really well this week because of it."
On if he feels that with CB Bill Bentley and CB Chris Houston injuries Lacey has stepped up: "No question. He was gonna be one of the top 3 guys going into the season. We knew he was going to play at least the nickel spot. He's really bright. He's a really good tackler for his size. I don't know what happened, why he became free but I'm glad we got him."
On CB Drayton Florence fitting in: "About as quick as anybody I've ever seen. I'm kind of proud of myself on that one too because one day I told him James Hasty went to Kansas City when he was 32 and never been to a Pro Bowl but went to 4 straight after that. It brought a big smile on his face. He's really helped the young guys. The biggest issue is the terminology-he has to translate lot of things that he's been through but he caught on fast. The first week, on a Tuesday, he was in my office about 6:30 in the morning wanting the call sheet for that game. It was a little early. But we got it to him as fast as we could so I'm glad he's here too."
On comfort level with Jonté Green possibly having an increased workload this week: "I'm comfortable. On that touchdown pass, I felt bad. I kind of put him in a situation and if I had to do it over again, I might have changed the call on it. But he fought the guy. He lost him at the line and then at the end there was a fight for the ball, and I thought he got it out but I got after him a little bit. Then he sat on the bench. I went over to talk to him and he reacted the way a corner should. I mean the look on his face and how he handled himself the rest of the game was outstanding. And that's what a corner has to have. You have to have short memories, and you can't be a phony about it and he wasn't. He's practiced real well and he's on his way up."
On taking pride in forcing turnovers: "I was part of a team that had 132+ in 10 years when I was coaching with Marty (Schottenheimer). You just keep coaching the same way. We play hard, we play tough and the balls got to come out. They come in bunches like guys wanting sacks. You just have to keep working and then all of the sudden they come. Turnovers-same thing. I'm sure it's on their mind they haven't turned it over. I hope it stays on their mind."
On Frank Gore and stopping him like Steven Jackson in the last game: "I made a call and the crowd was so loud Tully didn't get the whole thing so he called the basic defense, and I felt it was coming and when I saw the personnel on the field I knew it was coming and Levy and Durant smoked Steven Jackson. I mean they both hit him right, he took about two steps and went down. I felt pretty good about the call. Then I looked at the picture and realized he didn't call what I sent out there. And my hats off to the linebackers. Matt's (Burke) done a great job with them. He's worked real hard and they have good quickness and power. We went into the season last year we never had those guys together until camp started. So you're seeing a little bit more knowledge and coaching going on and it was a really good play.
On seeing Rams RB Steven Jackson get brought down with one arm by DT Ndamukong Suh: "I've been asked by a lot of people about that play. Jackson's one of the greatest backs I've coached against in the last 30 years and he is big. I don't know how big, 6'3, 240 probably. And when I saw the play I said there's only one guy I know that could have done that and it was Suh. It was a great tackle. Suh is playing really well. He's practiced well. And he is such a strong man. He's a three hundred and maybe eight pound defensive tackle, but there's no body fat. He's got great strength and quickness so I'm not at all surprised he did it.
On having LB Justin Durant back: "We're excited about that. Durant, last year when he was well, played as well as any linebacker we have and he's got great quickness. He has great knowledge of the game. I've kind of been worried about him the past couple of weeks and what I've realized is he is so focused. He doesn't talk to anybody. He is just into the game every day. And to have him out there playing well every snap, that really makes you be able to make the calls you need for the game."
On what worries him most about Gore: "He packs a load. Jackson runs high so you can get him down around the legs. This guy drops his pads. He's like a bowling ball going up-field and we have to close off the lanes. Green Bay, they tried to close off the lanes. They packed everybody inside and he popped it outside for about a 20-30 yard touchdown. He's a very gifted back and he's tougher than doornails."
On the last game being one of the best tackling games: "Yeah, no doubt. The secondary we have, you know everybody's talking about them. The two things they do well. They work really hard, No. 1. No. 2, they're really smart guys. They really get in a good spot and that's what's important in a back end. You take out air, angles; you have to get downhill fast on some of those perimeter plays and hit those guys when they're going sideways. If they turn the corner and come up the field, it makes a more difficult tackle. So we've really challenged the front to take care of business and give the secondary a chance to tackle. But they did well against the pass too when they did have to tackle. They're not bad."