LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On WR Calvin Johnson's dropped passes due to missed practices: "It's never ideal that you're not out there at practice, but Calvin does a good job of staying up on a lot of things. You'll see him take jugs work afterwards. He works really hard in the weight room and things that he can do. We have some treadmills that take the pressure off of you when you run and underwater stuff. He works really hard, but there is no substitute for practice. That's the reason that we go out there every day. He'll bounce back from it. Calvin's made a lot of big plays for us."
On what a contingency plan would be if TE Brandon Pettigrew is out for Sunday: "Well we have different ways we can work it. We worked it at the end of that game. We have Joe Fauria. Dorin Dickerson has done a nice job for us as he has developed. We can use extra offensive linemen. We could use four wide receivers. There are a lot of different ways that we can go. We have done that before."
On TE Joseph Fauria and TE Dorin Dickerson being more pass catching TE's and not run-blocking: "Yeah. Brandon is a good veteran player and a multidimensional player. He's done a really nice job for us. I think what you would see is a lot of different people replacing parts of what he did rather than one person stepping in to his role. It is still too soon to really have a good handle of that. We'll be ready for a lot of different contingencies just like a lot of other injuries that we have."
On if there is another TE that could support the run-block like Pettigrew: "There are a lot of good tight ends in the League, but as far as being a blocking tight end and a combination receiver that can do those different things, Brandon is pretty special that way. He's done a nice job for us and hopefully he can get back quickly."
On Stafford being in need a confidence boost: "We just need to go out and play and get a win. I don't think Matt is any different than 52 other guys on our team when it comes to that. Confidence comes from winning. I've said this before, you can't change it, but if that guy misses that 61-yard field goal at the end, maybe that is the confidence that you talk about. You have a drive late, go late in the end zone, score, take the lead, hold on for a win and then you get that confidence. You only get that from a win. It doesn't matter what your performance is. Wins and losses are what you get judged on, particularly when you're a quarterback. There are a lot of stats that other people keep and stuff like that, but I think wins and losses are the most important things."
On players and coaches living on a narrow edge: "That's just the way that it is. We're a 7-7 team and we're not pleased to be 7-7. It is what it is. We have two games left and we have to go out and get those wins. Every single one of them has been competitive. I think that's one of the things that makes it very frustrating for our fans also is that every one of our games has been so close that you can point to one play here or one play there. Sometimes it's easier to put a 45 to nothing loss behind you because you look and think that you didn't have a chance in that game and you move on to the next one. Our games really haven't been that way. We have been battling in every single one and they come down to a play here or a play there. We're working hard to be consistent and be able to come out with wins."
On Stafford's demeanor this week: "Matt's a very consistent person when it comes to his work ethic and his demeanor around the building. I don't think he gets very high when we win and I don't think he gets too low when we lose. It was a tough loss for us on Monday night just to have our situation where we were controlling our destiny and in first place in the NFC North to lose that game and now need a little bit of help. That's tough for anybody to handle, coaches, quarterback, offensive line, everybody. That doesn't change the task at hand, once we got back to work on Wednesday, players were off on Tuesday, we got back to work on Wednesday and the focus shifts. You're looking right at the Giants and how urgent it is to put that game behind us and move on to the next game. That's what you have to do in this League and Matt does a good job of that."
On athletes having a tougher time dealing with loss of control: "We don't control our playoff or division whatever, but we control our performance on Sunday. I haven't counted them, but I'm guessing there are probably 15 or 20 teams in the League right now that would like to be in a position that they had a chance. Like I said, one down with two to play is not the best position or the position that we would be in if we had one the game, but it is what it is and we need to take advantage of that. You think back last year or a couple years ago, three years ago, four years ago, five years ago, there are plenty of times that we would have taken that in a second. We need to come out with a win this game. That's the only thing that we can control and we control our performance and our preparation."
On top performers stepping up to win must win games: "I think that's true in any sport. When you get big games you rely on your core players. I think there are plenty of times where an unknown guy comes up and makes the play of the game or an unexpected player makes the play of a game. Whether it's a game winning shot in basketball or the home run, I think that there are plenty of opportunities for everybody. We certainly rely on our core guys."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET
On the recent turnovers by QB Matthew Stafford: "Some of it, he's trying to make plays. I mean the guy's been a great player for us. You're going to have peaks and valleys in your season. The first half of the year we did a nice job I think. We were really doing a good job of keeping the turnovers to a minimum, and we've had a couple games where some of it's bad luck, some of it we have to look at where we went with that ball in that situation and learn from it. There's nobody that learns better than him. He's working really hard at a lot of those things. You just have to remember, that guy is 25-years old and he owns every franchise record - it might not be every one, but it's pretty close. What I think of every day is how well he's played this young in his career and that when he does have games that aren't as good as others, he has to use that as an advantage, as a learning experience so we keep moving forward and he does a great job of that."
On if feels like he challenges Stafford enough after bad games, especially six out of the past seven games where he has struggled: "Well, certainly. I don't know that he's struggled that many times, but he's challenged daily, no doubt. He answers those challenges, and again, he knows that when we have a turnover by the quarterback position, he knows where the responsibility lies, whether the ball got tipped or anything else. It's not a matter of accountability and being challenged, it's a matter of keep moving forward and learn from them and know that if we make those improvements that there will be better days ahead. For three years, Matt's had a lot of things that he's done that's really unprecedented in this offense as far as what he's done. That hasn't changed and that won't change. He just needs to be like all the rest of these guys. We do individually something better each game, we're going to collectively play better."
On if Stafford's situation is more magnified because the team is not winning games lately: "The quarterback's going to get credit when you win, and the quarterback's going to get a lot of the blame when you lose, especially if you have a turnover in a situation or something like that. That's just part of the deal."
On needing to play safer to avoid turnovers: "We have to protect the football, but we can't at the expense of scoring points. You can't win games if you're not aggressive. We have an aggressive offense. You have to win games, you have to be at the even spot at the end of the day. If you're not on the plus-spot, you have to be even. We're really in that margin where we can't afford a turnover. So we have to do a better job for sure to win these last two games."
On how Stafford is dealing with the criticism: "I think he's dealing with it great. No one likes it, but they also know it's coming when you don't have your best game. He's been in a great place all week, he's worked really hard. He's really a hard worker and hard preparer and he's really hard on himself at times, which competitors are, but I think this week he's really moved forward and got himself ready for playing a good game against New York."
On if dropped passes by WR Calvin Johnson are a result of his lack of practice time due to his knee: "I don't know that it's any reason. Calvin missed a lot of practice last year too. If we had our druthers, he'd be able to practice and he'd be the first one to tell you, but we have to manage what he has to deal with. Saying that that's the reason is only an excuse. I think we just have to go out and at every position eliminate those things, whether it kill a drive or whatever. Those are the kind of things we have to do better."
On RB Reggie Bush approaching 1,000 rushing yards on the season and what the running game adds to the offense: "He has certainly added credibility to our run game, as well as Joique (Bell). Between the two of them the combination's been pretty much what we were hoping for. So he obviously gives us a legitimate running game, along with our offensive line and our tight ends. Matt runs our run, runs the pass check game very flawlessly, so I think all the things have really been positive additions to our offense."
On the incomplete passes on third-and-short vs. Baltimore: "We missed an opportunity. We had a good one and missed, the ball got tipped (and intercepted), but that's what happens. When you do throw when you're in that third and that one, two, three zone, you're not expecting zone and we got what we were looking for there, we just didn't end up executing the play."
On if the tipped ball play resulted in an interception: "Yeah, we ended up getting a man coverage, which you'd love to have."
On the philosophy behind going empty in the backfield on third-and-short: "So you can spread them out and get the matchups that you're looking for there. You can go watch the opening series of the Green Bay game and see, maybe one, get a couple really good matchups early like that and that's really it more than anything. But that's what we do. A lot of teams (do that), we're not unlike anybody. It's not a new concept, I think a lot of people like that. It's a lot easier to force people to figure out who's covering who when you do that."