Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz met with the media following Wednesday's practice and talked quite a bit about Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. Below is a look at what he had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher: "I've been very fortunate in this business to have some really good teachers. Started with Bill Belichick and continued with Jeff Fisher. I owe where I am to both of those guys. They gave me opportunity; they gave me a good structure to work in. (Jeff Fisher is) one of the most respected coaches in the league; guy that's been around for a long time and he's been through a lot of situations. He's been to a Super bowl, had a perennial playoff team, rebuilt a franchise from a salary cap purge, and oversaw the moving of a franchise from Houston to Tennessee. I've got a lot of respect for Jeff."
On whether Fisher and his own defensive systems are similar: "So much of defense is doing what your defense does well and keeping an eye on trying to take away what an offense does well and I think whether it's us or the Rams or 30 other teams in the NFL everyone is going to do pretty much the same things. Jeff's been a defensive coach, he's been a coordinator, and he played in the NFL. He definitely has a philosophy and I think it was a good experience to learn from him."
On Coach Fisher's remarks about resistance in their former organization regarding Coach Schwartz promotions: "The person that sees the most are the people that you work with every day. Sometimes people from outside or that aren't involved on a day-to-day basis don't see what goes on in the huddle, or at halftime, or at midnight and everything else. I'm very thankful for the opportunities I was given in my career. I was very, very lucky to have people that gave me that opportunity and also very fortunate to have people that have set such a good example along the way."
On the resistance he faced being age based: "I was fairly young and inexperienced. I'd been around the league a lot but it had been in backup-type roles. I can't really speak on that. It was a really long time ago."
On Coach Fisher's teams being disciplined: "(Jeff Fisher's) teams are always tough. They're always physical. They're always well prepared. Traditionally they've always run the ball very well. But they're adaptable. There were times in Tennessee where Eddie George was going to carry it 40 times a game. There was times when Steve McNair was going to throw it 40 times a game. Good coaching in the NFL is being able to adapt to your personnel and the situation that comes up. I think that's probably the hallmark of what Jeff did. You can't be around for 17 years unless you adjust and change. Run and shoot didn't last 17 years, 46 defense didn't last 17 years; you have to be able to adjust and change with personnel, within times, all those different things. He's certainly done that."
On how close he and Coach Fisher are: "Talked to him once I think in training camp. We saw him a lot last year because his son was on the coaching staff here. Jeff was probably at about four of our games last year. He was in the stands. He visited us during training camp."
On the high turnover of the Rams this year: "Well when you take over a team you need to get things the way that you want it. There's going to be opportunities for guys. There's going to be guys that fit well in the scheme before you. He's done that before even though it was with the Titans. We went from a veteran playoff team to a very, very young team. I think for 2 or 3 years in a row we were the youngest team in the NFL. You have to be willing to be able to do that and put young players out there and go. We had a lot of roster turnover here from 2008 to 2009. They maybe even have more."
On if he was on the staff when there wasn't a Titans home stadium: "No, I was at Baltimore then. But when I first got to Tennessee we were still in trailers. In front of a shopping mall were our offices. We had a field next to the shopping mall that was a practice field. We had just moved to what was then Adelphia Coliseum and halfway through that, at the end of training camp, we moved in to a brand new facility. I was with the Cleveland Browns when we moved to Baltimore. I know how incredibly difficult that transition is. All your players are moving; all your coaches are moving; there's so much uncertainty. I saw that firsthand. That's an incredibly difficult thing Jeff did leading that franchise from Houston to Tennessee and the success that he had in Tennessee."
On the running game's balance between efficiency and production: "Efficiency and production is getting first downs, gaining yards, scoring with the football. It has nothing to do with whether you're doing it from screens, long passes, reverses, runs, power-running game, traps. You don't get any style points for any of that. We aspire to put the ball in the end zone on offense. We aspire to do what we have to do to win the game. We want to be a multidimensional offense. We have a very good quarterback. We have very good receivers. We have very good running backs. If a team wants to tilt too heavy to stop in one of those groups we have to have the ability to make them pay in another area."
On naming captains Monday: "I didn't name them, they were voted on by the team. The coaches don't have any votes in that. No. 1 it said a lot about the guys that were voted. We probably have about a dozen, two dozen guys that could go out for captains every week. There's very good leadership on this team. But to be voted by your teammates, to be recognized by your teammates that work hard for you every day, that see you not just on the practice field, not just in the locker room or the meeting room but also see you after hours and get to know you as a person. I think that means an awful lot."
On having an edge this week because St. Louis has so many new players: "You could say that's an edge for them. They certainly have the uncertainty edge. You have a preseason to go on. You don't know how much they've shown in the preseason. What they're going to do, how much they're going to go with what we've already seen.
"We have a pretty long track record. We've talked about how our continuity helps us, but we've also had the same offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator for three years. We certainly have a much more visible track record and there is that unpredictable nature of a team with a new staff coming over. You don't know exactly what they're doing. I heard somewhere that there were teams that were going back to college football on Coach Schiano down in Tampa. I've been in that situation before. You're spread very thin in the week. Also, they have a lot of roster turnover, new guys. You could look at it as an advantage there."
On C Dominic Raiola remarks about QB Matthew Stafford having a chip on his shoulder: "I thought we surgically removed that chip a couple offseasons ago."
"Matt's a very competitive guy; he's a very prideful guy. He wants to succeed. He wants to succeed for himself; he wants to succeed for his teammates, for the organization. He wants to succeed for the city. That's not fake what comes out. He feels a very strong responsibility to this franchise and to this city to get things turned around. He's a competitor and he wants to do well. That doesn't just mean he throws for a lot of yards. He wants to win games and lead us to post season wins and things like that."
On his concern about the state of the secondary: "It is what it is. We'll get through and get those guys back on the field as soon as we can. When we do, they'll be ready. If they're not, we have other guys that get paid to play also so we'll be fine."
On QB Matthew Stafford's ESPN commercial: "I saw just a part of it. I didn't see the whole thing. I don't watch a whole lot of TV. I think that the only thing I'd say is it takes a lot of being comfortable in your own skin to be able to make fun of yourself. You can't have thin skin and make fun of yourself. I think we all know some players along the way that couldn't pull that off. (If you're) used to being the center of attention and can laugh at yourself I think you can do things like that."
On knowing that about him all along: "I had a pretty good idea."