Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had to say following Thursday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On starting the three game stretch at home: "It's a very important stretch obviously and it starts this week with Green Bay. It's the only one we can play this week but after having six of the first nine on the road it is good to get back to Ford Field against quality opponents. It's going to be a very, very important stretch for us."
On being 4-5 and 0-3 and this not being an ordinary game: "We can't control anything other than this game. That's the honest truth. It's a very important game for us obviously. NFC North game, it's a home game. They're all important but division games mean more. For us as a team it's a lot like when we came off the Chicago loss. Lost, came back at Seattle at home. Very tough opponent and we were able to get a win and doing that against Green Bay would give us the same kind of boost."
On needing more production from P Nick Harris: "It's a combination of punt location, but also hang time and limiting returns and it's all about net average. Don't worry too much about gross average, it's all about net. If our locations are good and we're covering well, then our net will be fine. That's the most important thing."
On WR Calvin Johnson saying with all of the attention he receives all the other WRs could have 100 yard games: "Well if everybody could have 100...let's see - we've got about 900 yards receiving. He certainly gets a lot of attention. When we're operating at our best on offense a lot of guys are getting the ball, a lot of guys are making plays."
On if they have lost their offensive identity trying to be efficient in run game: "We'll throw as many as it takes to win the game. No matter how we play it, if we're putting the ball in the end zone then we are doing the right thing. Take each week as it comes. Against Jacksonville, we ran it across three times. 21 points is 21 points in the first half. We'll take it however it comes. We don't look at it that way. We don't look at a ratio or how many times or anything else. We're just going to try to do whatever we can to score. When we do when we move the ball, add a score, good in the red zone, and good on third down, we're successful as an offense."
On the slow starts: "We have to play better all three phases and straight across the game. Last week we came out moving the ball, stalled at midfield. Their offense got the ball and they scored a touchdown so that wasn't a very good start for us. We've had some other games where we've taken the opening drive down and scored. We're always trying to do the same thing but it's a 60 minute game. We won a couple games on the last play of the game. Take those. Had a game like Jacksonville where we put it away before then, take those too. Do your best over 60 minutes."
On Green Bay's ability to get to the quarterback so effectively: "Running the same scheme they did last year. They have around the same number of sacks at this point in the season that they had all of last year. It's made a big difference for them and they're a big play defense. They've always been a good interception team but they've added - they've gotten back to sacking the quarterback. A lot of that has been Clay Matthews but sacks and tackles for losses, they run a 3-4 Pittsburgh-style zone blitz type scheme. They rely on making or creating negative plays and our offense's ability to stay away from those - stay away from sacks, stay away from tackles for losses, interceptions, will be a big key to this game."
On the reason other than QB Aaron Rodgers why they are so efficient at not turning the ball over: "That's probably the key there. 25 touchdowns, five interceptions; pretty good ratio. Good decisions. Then also ball-secure wide receivers and running backs. They've done a good job of as many times as they ‘ve thrown it with not allowing ball to get loose from them. We've talked a little bit before about them creating turnovers and stuff like that and our ability on defense to be able to get some, will go a long way to helping us in this game. You don't get very many of them, but if we can, it will go a long way to help us."
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR SCOTT LINEHAN QUOTE SHEET:
On if WR Calvin Johnson has a look like he knows he needs to carry the team: "He's an elite player. In my opinion the best receiver in football. Maybe the best one when it's all said and done ever. He carries a lot of weight when it comes to having to do some things a lot of receivers don't have to do. I mean, he makes plays and has production. I'd say his production is unprecedented based on having three guys covering him every week and to be where he is as far as catches and yards and all those things. But he has ability to do that and he carries us a lot of times."
On if you can ride a receiver like you can ride a running back: "Somewhat. I mean, you've got to throw the ball a lot more. He's a guy, when you have Calvin Johnson -to throw the ball more makes sense. Certainly makes the job for me harder as far as you've got to be a lot more creative in how to get him the ball because, you know, running backs you turn around and give it to them. With receivers you've got to maneuver them, get them open, and even sometimes for the reason of just get him the ball even though he's being double and triple covered. But that's why you have other players on the team. Football's not a one-man team or one-man sport. It's something where if he's getting that much attention other guys should be able to have a lot of production for us."
On having to hold his breath when Johnson gets tackled and is slow to get up: "Well, Calvin's tough. He always answers the bell. Don't worry about him. He's fighting through not being 100-percent. I don't know where he is, but he's definitely getting better for him to be able to get to the point where he was able to play the minutes he's played. And really not being able to practice full-time says a lot about his toughness. He's always one of the toughest guys I've been around, but this is taking it to a new level."
On what things he has tried to get faster starts: "Well, believe it or not, we work really hard at it. I mean we spend Thursday night, we spend Friday's practice, we cover it again on Saturday in our meeting, we cover it again on Saturday night in our meeting, we cover it one more time before we go out-our opening script, our opening plays, our approach. I think we've just got to relax and go play. I think sometimes is what you do is you put so much time and effort and you get to where you're trying to do things right. Sometimes you're maybe pressing a little bit. It's like trying to get a three-point shooter to get hot early in the game. You know, if he's worried about the ball going in then it's probably not. So we've got to just go out and execute. One of the things is, even last week we had a good start to our drive (but we) got derailed with a penalty. Those are the things that stop your drives.
Going (on long drives) a lot like we are, we're going to have to be able to be aggressive but patient. You've got to take chances but don't turn the ball over. We've got to do all those things without making mistakes, and I think our guys are getting to the point now where we're ready get off and start making some plays early in games."
On an aggressive completion: "Well, if they give you the look, we go in with the idea that people are going to be dropping soft coverage and you've basically be able to run the ball, check the ball down. But it doesn't mean that they're going to do that every time. If you get that shot early, you've got to be able to take it and execute it. You don't want to miss it. If you want to get off to a fast start, execute the plays that we're running and get first downs, keep the chains moving and then when you get down in the money zone, the red zone, you've got to punch it in and get that touchdown. If we're able to do that I think it's going to put wind in our sails early because we definitely got it as the game goes on. I mean, I give a lot of credit to our coaches and players making adjustments. We get better and better as the game goes on. After halftime I don't think there's anybody that's scored more points, definitely not in the fourth quarter, in the League. So if we can get to where we have a pretty good feel for how people are going to defend us early in the games, make that adjustment earlier, that might help us. One of the things is we play teams that might blitz 25-40 percent of the time going into a game and then we get one or two a game. So, that's why you've got to anticipate how people are going to defend us different than what we're seeing from them in previous games."
On what goes into the decision to use three tackles or a tight end: "Some of it's matchups. We've gone against some pretty premier defensive players on the end, and then some that we just match up really well and can utilize that. I just think it's kind of a tempo setting thing with bringing in a young player like Riley in. But it's not going to be... we're not full-time doing it. We've got a number of good tight ends that we rely on. I think if we just have a good kind of a mix of him playing and not maybe underutilizing some of the other guys, I think it's still going to be very effective for us."
On if TE Tony Scheffler has been affected most by using three tackles: "I think all the tight ends some, but some of it was by design because we weren't as probably healthy. Pettigrew was taking some wear and tear off his legs and probably Scheff some, but I see Scheff being more and more involved as we move forward."
On if teams do not have to account for their running game: "Well they sure know that we aren't hurting them with big plays in the running game. And so I think if they see us handing it off they're like ‘Until we prove that we're going to hit the home run.' I think they're like ‘Well that's a win because Calvin Johnson doesn't get the ball.' But we look at it a lot different. You look two weeks ago how effective our running game was, and it really set the tone for the game when we scored four rushing touchdowns in the game and all those things. So there's some give and take there. Yeah, we would like to be able to get explosive plays, but we also would like to be ahead of the chains with our running game so we're not third-and-10 or more like we were six times last week against Minnesota. That killed us. I mean, you can't play the defense we played last week, get in third down there and have a successful day on the field as far as third down if you're not utilizing that. So we look at it as an opportunity to have positive plays, and we just didn't execute it like we had previous weeks."
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