Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had to say following Friday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET:
On what Florence has brought to the team even while not able to play for some time: "Well he's a veteran player, he's been through it a long time. He's got a lot of experience in the League with different teams. This is now his fifteen if you count Denver for training camp so he's been in a lot of schemes; he has familiarity with a lot of different offenses and offensive players. Even when he was hurt and he was going to be down, I think he only missed one or two days that whole time. From meetings and watching practice and being with the guys and doing everything else so that presence definitely helped. He's a veteran player and that's what he could contribute when he was hurt. Still was able to make a contribution."
On the rotating door of the secondary: "There's only so much that you can do. Guys have to play well; they have to cover and tackle and do all the things that corners and safeties do. There's not a whole lot that you can do other than that. I think that a big focus on responsibility...we've had very few missed assignments. We had one on the touchdown we gave up early in the game; we didn't get the guy covered. We had a miscommunication on a bunch route and we had a guy get out. The other times that we've given up plays would be physically. I think that's job No.1 is make sure you communicate and make sure that you don't give up anything for free. Then you got to battle like everybody does in the NFL. It's tough to battle a passing game. That's the way it is in the NFL, particularly good quarterbacks, good wide receivers, good skill guys. But I think we're up to the challenge."
On how the team has approached this week: "I think we're a professional team all weeks. We've always done a good job of handling a loss. We had a very disappointing loss at Chicago. Came back for a home game, played a good game, got a win against a really good team. It wasn't because we changed things or guys did anything different. I think that it's been a lot of that same kind of feeling this week. Very disciplined, loss on the road, an NFC North opponent and guys are very determined to come back to Ford Field and get a win."
On expecting K Jason Hanson to be okay for Sunday: "Yeah, unless you see us make a move with a kicker. Those are some positions, we talked about Corey and having backups and backups are expected to go in and play. But you have emergency backups at snapper and punter and kicker. We saw Jason step in this year and punt pretty well in the game and thank goodness haven't lost a long snapper in a game, but you're always prepared for stuff like that. But certainly don't want to go into a game without having one of those three guys."
On whether or not the constant rotation in the backfield has limited the ability to force turnovers: "I don't think so, I think that the turnovers come from doing physical play. I think that they've done a good job on stuff like that. You can't start...a lot of turnovers, people get obsessed with turnovers and particularly in the backend guys start cheating. Guys start guessing on a route and then all of a sudden give up a double move or give up a route over the top or something like that. We certainly don't want a feast or famine type mentality. We want a good, solid; do your job-type mentality. Then if you do that, turnovers will come. Turnovers will come from pass rush, they'll come from physical play and stuff like that. That's our objective.
On quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly this year: "We've seen that on a couple occasions where the ball came out so quickly there wasn't a whole lot that you could do. We've also had a couple of plays where over the last few weeks guys did a really good job of playing over top of some deep balls. (S Ricardo) Silva made a really good play on that deep ball against Seattle. (S) Erik Coleman came back against Jacksonville made two of them. One of them got called back because of a penalty but he made two deep down the field. We just have to keep battling."
On sack-fumbles lacking this year: "We had an awful lot of those (last year). (DE) Cliff Avril and (DE) Kyle Vanden Bosch. Honestly, most of the time a sack strip is a more valuable play than in interception because most of the time interceptions are deeper down the field. I mean, unless you intercept a three step and a pick six and going the other way. Getting a sack strip, you're usually about 10 yards or so behind the line of scrimmage so you already have your return. And then the other thing is if you can pick it up, generally it's a bunch of offensive lineman back there and you can clear a path. That's certainly something that would help us and it's something that we've done well when we've played well and will be a big boost for us if we're able to get that. That being said, it's hard to get (QB Aaron) Rodgers. He throws quick, he's very mobile. He's very aware of situations. He's got a lot of different guys to be able to go but that would certainly go a long way, however you get a turnover will go a long way to helping us on defense."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET:
On the challenge of facing QB Aaron Rodgers: "Aaron Rodgers is, you know, he is one of those guys. Somebody asked me this morning, one of the players, about comparing to some of the quarterbacks I've seen through the years and he's one of those quarterbacks. He's like Marino, Montana and all those guys. He's got a great arm and not only does he have that, he's got a great mind. I've listened to a couple interviews he's had, not the 60 Minutes one about Aaron in case you were getting all excited about what I'm saying, but I've listened to a couple Sirius Radio interviews and I was really impressed. The guy is very bright, and obviously he carries it over to the field. Mike McCarthy's got a relationship with him, so we're in for a major league challenge this weekend. The receivers, they're all tough. When you try to track them, you know, who's the guy on first, second, third down? Then you pick a guy and he's got 15 catches and that's a situation where three or four other guys have one less. So, he spreads the ball around. You can't really focus on one guy because if you try to double up on one of their guys, the other guy will beat you. So, we're going to have to play them all."
On how teams this season tried to slow Rodgers: "No, I think, you know, Chicago has played really well on defense. I really admire what they've done this year, and they're very disciplined. They don't do very many things and they kept the ball in front of him. They made (Rodgers) throw five-yard passes and what they did is tackle. Green Bay is one of the best RAC teams, you know yards after the catch, in probably the last five, six, 10 years or ever since Mike's (McCarthy) been there. They catch and go. It's like a five-yard run breaking a tackle and so you have to tackle well against them and not allow those rack yards. They run a lot of short slants, quick-outs and their idea is break that tackle and go. When you overplay that play they run a double move, and he throws one up the field. Incidentally, he's ranked like 19th I think for deep balls percentage-wise. Problem is he's got 10 touchdowns. There's no quarterback close, not even (Peyton) Manning. Manning's got five. So, he is everything people say he is. He's a hell of a player."
On if the Lions, who've played near-perfect at times, need a near-perfect game vs. Green Bay: "Well, you know, I appreciate you saying that. Not too many people think that, but we've had some really good games. What we have a tendency to do, you know-we've played a lot in the first half and then the offense catches fire and what we need to guard against is a letdown. You know, I've told them. You go into a game and you don't care about what the score is or anything. You just keep playing and we need to play together. We had a couple communication errors last week and, you know, we play quite a few coverages. There's a reason for it. When you play so many DBs every week you've got to protect them somehow. I think we've always had good plans, and we missed the boat last week. You know, I was upset. There's no excuse. We all knew the play was coming. Everybody. The coaches called the players on the sidelines and went on the field and one guy missed his shot and it cost us. That's the part I don't like about this defense right now. We can't afford to do that. In this game, we have to keep the ball in front of us and we have to tackle well."
On Packers G T.J. Lang lining up at tackle this week: "Well, we expect Cliff (Avril) to win every week, and he's been good as a pass rusher. Sometimes he's missed some lanes where you should've done something else. You know, you kind of tell him to stop being a one trick pony and start working inside moves more. You know, he'll match up well. The problem is with Green Bay, Mike (McCarthy) knows what he's doing. He's going to run the ball some, and it doesn't matter if he has to run it himself, he's going to run it. But the problem is the way they throw the ball on first and second down especially, even if you get them on 3rd and 6 he's going to get the ball out in less than two seconds. So, that's going to nullify a lot of our rushes I'm sure."
On opposing quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly preventing the defense from causing turnovers: "Well, there's no question about it. I looked at a lot of stats this morning and you won't believe this. We gave up some bombs and we're like sixth or seventh in yards per pass. In quarterback hits and sacks combined we're fourth I think. Yet, nothing is out there to show it.
"That's what I have to do. I have to track us every move we make and it does nullify the pass rush when people do that. What you have to do is get a negative play. We're second in the League in negative plays and it's still not good enough, you know? The problem that I don't like, you know, we lost Eric Wright. The one value Eric had is he was a ball hawk. He got the ball and that's kind of contagious. We haven't gotten very many interceptions, and I'm not complaining about making personnel moves it's just that's what he had to him and that helped us. The thing that I can't believe, you know, I've been down on sacks in the years as a coach, but I don't think we've ever been down on turnovers like this. That's something where the ball needs to pop in our hands. We've dropped a lot. Cliff Avril's had touchdown passes that he dropped, you know, where the ball came out quick and he had a chance to catch them. The reason I'm saying that is he caught two today."
On if there is pressure on the front seven with all the inconsistency in the secondary: "That front seven's making a lot of money. I don't care if they don't like it, you know, I'll just show them the paycheck they get. So, they have to protect the rest of us and, you know, one thing you have to do as a signal-caller, one thing I learned a long time ago is you roll the coverages. You never give the quarterback too many of the same looks because they're not stupid. Like I said, Aaron Rodgers probably could have gone to Harvard easily. You give him the same look, and he'll chew you up. If you havea deficiency, you're in there because of injuries, you've got to protect those guys. You've got to know how to do it so we work really hard at all that."
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