Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz met with the media on Monday for his weekly press conference. Here's a look at what he had to say (quotes provided by the Lions):
On QB Matthew Stafford's MRI: "I don't have any comment on how anything went with him. He wasn't able to finish the game. Shaun Hill came in to finish the game for us and we'll see how he progresses through this week."
On if can talk about his level of concern with Stafford's injury: "Not yet. We'll see how the week goes and then Friday we'll make a determination what that availability is. Same as every team does."
On if he ever considered going for it on the final fourth down play of overtime: "No, that was never really a consideration. It was either kick the field goal or try to draw them offsides there. I think that's a great example of an overaggressive call by the head coach. You know, I mean, we're going into the play, it seemed like there was no down side. ‘Hey try to draw them off.' I mean, if we jumped offsides or did something, we move back 5 yards and we still kick the field goal. I mean, we were in certain Jason Hanson range right there. But what wasn't supposed to have any down side ended up having a down side and that's on me as a head coach. I mean, that was a situation that aggressiveness would have helped and given us a chance to win the game right there instead of just tying the game and continuing. But it also ended up not giving us a chance to tie the game and that's on me."
On how C Dominic Raiola handled the error: "It's tough. It's tough on Dom and it's tough on every player in the locker room. You know, there's dozens of plays in that game that, you know, that you could point at and say, ‘If that one doesn't happen, you know, if we don't give up a 71-yard touchdown pass. If we don't commit a penalty, let them into field goal range. If we, you know, we stop that kick return. If we convert one more third down. If we get one more yard on the play before, not even a yard. If we get eight more inches on the play before.' So there's a lot of players that go through that and that's a lot of coaches that all sort of internalize it. That's part of this league, but you know, he's no different than 52 other guys in that locker room that all had a hand in us coming back in that game and also it was part of something that caused us not to win the game."
On if Stafford's leg injury affected the play calling: "I never said it was bothering him through the week. Yeah, I mean, he was not limited in practice. He did everything that was asked from him. He took every single rep and everything else and he was a certainty to play. He played pretty well until he was pursuing the guy and, I mean, if it continued the way it was it wasn't even an issue. But he ended up getting it at the end of the game where he couldn't finish."
On if the team has to look into bringing in a new punter: "There's possibility. We'll have to see how he (Ben Graham) responds and how he looks but there's definitely a possibility there."
On how many yards RB Mikel Leshoure had after initial contact: "I don't know if we charted that. Eleven rushing first downs I think is the most since I've been here as head coach and we chart run-game efficiency. You know, a good run on 3rd and 1 is a 1-yard gain, a 10-yard gain on 3rd and 12 is not a good run. You know, like that. And we were 66-percent efficient which is the highest that we've been since I've been here. So we ran the ball efficiently. We got first downs. That's one of the things we wanted to do. Just didn't make quite enough in the game. Mikel (Leshoure) had that ball and, you know, I'm sure he's looking at it just like Dom (Raiola) or anybody else. ‘Man, if I could've just stretched that ball, you know, another eight inches at the end.' Given us three more downs and a chance to win. Everybody's feeling that same way."
On why the team was more aggressive in the passing game in the second half: "Well, their design was to make sure that we didn't pass it down field. Now, with that being said, we also threw for almost 500 yards I think. You know, we had almost 600 yards of total offense, made five explosive plays and did that. I think part of it has to do with what Carlos (Monarrez) said. That run drew them up a little bit and if they continued to play the way they did early in the game we would have had a hard time getting a pass. But we could also run the ball effectively and then still score. You know, it wasn't really trying to be more aggressive or calling different plays, it was just sort of the way they played us. And because we could run it we were getting first downs running. We just weren't three yards or four yards. We were getting first downs. I think it changed it a little bit."
On having more four-wide receiver sets in the second half: "Well, there was only a couple times that we were in four-wide receivers when (Ryan) Broyles came on the field. We did run empty a bunch, but you know, that was just to spread them out a little bit more and give our quarterback more options."
On why Tennessee was able to move the ball on offense: "Well, them moving the ball had nothing to do with the big plays. I mean, they were quick strikes and, you know, one of them just a physical man-to-man matchup. The other one was a zone coverage. It was a breakdown in the zone. We did a good job of limiting their run game. We had a lot of respect for the run game. We let Chris Johnson bounce out a couple times but also when he tried to bounce out a couple times we threw him for lost yardage plays. Altogether, that wasn't a factor. It was their passing game and their big plays, the explosive plays, those two touchdowns. You know, altogether on defense I think we gave up 23 points. Well, 14 of those came in two plays. The rest of the time, you know, there was a lot of good things. We didn't get a very good pass rush. You know, we had no sacks in the game. We only had a couple pressures in the game, but if we don't give up the long plays regardless of pass rush or anything else then we have a much better chance. And that's, you know, just like allowing special teams scores or allowing a defensive score. You know, we take a lot of pride in not allowing big plays and that came back to haunt us in this game."
On if the officials could have reviewed the 27-yard penalty in overtime: "Nope. I mean, the only other thing is we're in overtime. We can't challenge anything in overtime anyway. It's not challengeable. We can't challenge in overtime. The only thing potentially, we could've taken a timeout. But we had the alternate on our sideline and he was the guy that was mic'd up and we said ‘No, you're enforcing it from the wrong spot' and he was adamant that they were correct. So, at that point we just needed to play. But again, what we needed to do was prevent 70-yard touchdowns and we need to, you know, execute when the time comes. We need to not give up 14 points on special teams. Worrying about the officiating or making it an issue has very little to do with it. We had chances to get them stopped on that drive. You know, there was a penalty on that play and that's a tough penalty. You know, Tully's not trying to go low. He's actually trying to hit him here and the guy ducks and you know, it's bang bang. But that play ended up putting them in field goal range. We did a better job after that getting them stopped. They got one more first down, then Stephen (Tulloch) ended up making a fantastic play on a blitz to get them stopped. Hold them to a field goal and you got a chance to either tie or win the game in that situation. One thing you can't allow in the first drive of overtime is a touchdown. That's the game ender and, you know, we didn't do a good enough job but we also were able to give us a chance to win it at the end. We didn't accomplish that."
On how vital it is to have S Louis Delmas back: "He's an important player for us. We saw that last year. Like any player, he's important and makes a difference when he's on the field. But we also have other guys and when your number is called, it's your job to go out and play. We've talked about that a bunch as a team, as a staff. I think everybody has seen incidence of that. We certainly have the talent that we can fill guys in and still be effective. We didn't do it yesterday, but we have the talent to be able to do it."
On the coverage units playing well in the first two weeks and then giving up two touchdowns this week: Both of them had a lot to do with our kick. (P Ben) Graham got hurt kicking the ball and ended up having a very low hang-time short punt and we don't spread the field. Also, he's not even available to make a play where he forces the guy back in. We had a very good chance to get that stop and maybe hold them to a field goal there. That was a very unfortunate situation. He got hurt as he was stepping into it, so it wasn't even on the kick. There are some things we can do to execute there better but kick location and the availability of a safety, which the punter is, to be able to cut plays like that off - reverses and things that get across the field - definitely had a factor in it. We can do a better job of covering but we can also do a better job of kick location. Jason Hanson had a lot on his plate in this game. It's very rare that you see a guy make all his field goals and also punt in a game. But our location on field goals could be better. In that case, that bit us right there."
On where he wanted the kickoff location: "We wanted it some place other than where it was. I think you guys have known me long enough; I'm not going to sit here and tell you exactly what went wrong or where. We need better kick location. Kick location is more important to us at times than kick depth. That was one of those situations. Then again, it's like everything else we talk about. There are still plenty of opportunities even with that kick location to get that play pulled up and we didn't do a good job of playing. That got pinned inside and never got them cut off on the sideline and ended up being a touchdown."
On LB Justin Durant playing 27 snaps and S Amari Spievey filling in: "Spievey played a little bit in there because we lost (CB Bill) Bentley for a little while during the game. Durant was limited coming in with his leg injury but his lower back was tightening up during the game. Usually him and Levy end up splitting a lot of the nickel reps. Levy just played a lot more of the nickel reps. He was still fine to play but Levy was moving a little bit better during the game."
On this week leading up to the game against Minnesota being a big week for the team: "Every week is big. They all count the same. You have to come to play every week. It's probably more important for this reason: It's an NFC North game. If we get a win, it puts a loss on one of our division opponents. That always makes it more important."
On a big picture view: "You have to be half way in between. You can be a guy that says, ‘Hey we set a lot of records, we almost had 600 yards, we scored 41 points, we came back 14 points in the last 18 seconds and made a value.' You can point to all the positive things and there was. There is no question there is a great deal of positive things. I mentioned Jason Hanson with his field goals and stepping in to punt. I mean we've seen that from other teams just be a disaster. They can't catch a punt; they can't field it and end up getting blocked and things like that. We saw a very good debut from a running back. We were very efficient: we gave up one sack in how many pass attempts. It was eventually 55 I think officially. And that wasn't really getting beat that was a miscommunication. That wasn't a physical...there were a lot of very good things. A lot of guys made plays. We didn't make enough plays. Defensively there are a lot of things. You can sit here and say, ‘Oh, let's accentuate the positives and things like that. You also can't overlook the fact we allowed two kick scores. We allowed a score when our defense wasn't on the field off of a forced fumble. We made a critical mistake at the end of the game. We made a couple critical mistakes on defense to allow them into field goal range and things like that. When we eliminate those things, then we'll be fine. But to sit here and say, ‘Yeah we'll be fine,'...we're certainly not overlooking it. We're certainly not excusing it or anything else. There are tough games in the NFL. There are a lot of tough situations. This is a game that got away from us. A game that we started off having pretty good command, it got away a little bit in the middle, we came storming back, they came storming back, we never gave up, we looked like we had it, we got back to overtime, it looked like they were going to win, and then it looked like we were going to. Hat's off to them. They got the win and they made a couple more plays than we did."
On your concern with TE Brandon Pettigrew misplays: "In that case he was turning and trying to get up there. Brandon is a pretty ball-secure guy. He doesn't fumble very much. Guy made a great play; ripped the ball away from him. I'm not concerned about that happening continually with Brandon. He does have a tendency at times to turn and try to run before he has the ball. That leads to a drop here and there. But not his ball security or his blocking or his ability to make plays for us."
On Pettigrew's hands being the reasons for his drops then: "I think he has outstanding hands. When he does drop a pass, it's generally a result of trying to do too much too soon. You know, trying to turn to get in position to get up the field and not seeing the catch all the way through before he does. Brandon has a great pass-catching radius. He's really big, he's got very good hands. You've seen some of the catches he's made. He has very sure hands. When he ends up in those situations, it's generally from trying to do too much too soon. Also, think about the run-after-the-catches that he's put up; he's put some really good run-after-the-catch stuff together. So he can make plays doing that, it's not, not beneficial what he does when he does get the ball in his hand.
On how the offense was different with QB Shaun Hill in the game: "There's no difference in plays. He executes the plays a little bit different. He has a different style in the pocket. He has a different release point. He has different touch, different arm strength. But, you know, the offense stays the same. We don't change plays in the offense. Shaun's a competitor. Very smart. When we did loose Stafford at the end of the game there wasn't one hesitation that Shaun was going to be there for us and lead us down the field and put us in position to be able to tie that game and potentially win."
On if this season is one of the more unpredictable in the NFL: "I don't know. I think if you're around it long enough, you know that this League is unpredictable. I mean, there's a reason that people say ‘any given Sunday,' you know, because that's what this League is. It's not a cliché. This is a battle every single week, every single time you step on the field. Doesn't matter what anybody's record is, you just need to go play. You know, so, I don't see it being any different than previous years."
On if RB Kevin Smith has been lowered on the depth chart: "Yeah, a little bit more situation what they were in. Kevin was the third down back in that game and started off getting third down carries and then, speaking of third-down opportunities, Leshoure, as the game went on, he was doing well in some of those roles and we kept him on the field. Joique stepped in. Joique made a lot of plays in the game, too, did a nice job. But we use all those guys. There's really no depth chart when it comes to our running backs. They're all different packages and they're all valuable to us."
On if DE Lawrence Jackson was a healthy scratch: "Yeah, yeah. Our numbers situation at corner and at running back, we wanted to make sure we had enough guys there. We've been going with nine defensive linemen which is tough to do at times. But, we've also benefitted from the fact that Ronnell Lewis has played a very good role on special teams and Willie Young plays a really nice role on special teams. So, it just ended up being a numbers game. We've got a lot of confidence in Lawrence that he makes plays when he's on the field. But, it's tough to have nine defensive linemen up when you're a four-down team."
On if the Vikings beating the 49ers makes the Lions take them more seriously: "Yeah, I don't think it has anything to do with it to tell you the truth. They're a division opponent. We know them well. We have a lot of respect for them. They have some outstanding players. The sack leader in the NFL, I don't know where he ended up in rushing last year, but one of the best running backs in the NFL, play-making wide receiver, young quarterback, first-round draft pick at left tackle. You could keep on going for about 20 minutes. They have outstanding talent. Our guys know that because we play them twice a year. Regardless of whether they won or lost, I don't think it changes the perspective we have for the Vikings."
On the penalties: "Well, the offsides for sure. A couple of those, they were moving the same time we were, we got called. I mean, hey, we don't want to point at anybody other than ourselves. You can live with it. With Bentley, we've got to be smarter in that situation. It's third and 16 and we're in zone defense. You know, I mean, his grabbing that guy had nothing to do with that play other than to give them an easy first down. And you think back, and again we've talked about it, a lot of more obvious game-changing plays, but that might have been one right there because we hold them to a punt right there. We've got the ball back and now we don't need a touchdown at the end. Now you get in field goal range and it's like a normal overtime. You know, so that play led to keeping that drive alive. We had thrown them for a loss and they had actually taken a false start on the play before that. But, you know, on defense we did have a couple inopportunities, that one in particular. Tulloch got the personal foul. The guy came after his knees pretty well after the snap, but, again, you see it and you can't stress it enough, it's not always the first guy that gets it. It's the guy they see. That led to, again, that was a field goal. We need to do a better job at - there's things like an offensive holding or, you know, a third and 16 that's not a very good defensive holding. Plays that occur, or penalties that occur within the play, you know, whatever, you get a holding or whatever, you get a facemask. Nobody's trying to hold anybody. Nobody's trying to get a facemask. Those things you can live with but we've got to do a better job. We gave them 20 yards on defensive off sides. Again, that could mean the difference. It's a lot easier to rush when it's third and 10 instead of third and five. And a couple times that came up. It's a lot easier to rush when its second and 17 instead of second and 12. We talked about us not having a pass rush. Well, we can put ourselves in a better position to rush the passer if we stay onside."
On if K Jason Hanson practices punting: "He does."
On if Hanson practices punting often: "He practices. He's our backup punter."
On not seeing Hanson punting in practice: "You guys probably don't pay attention. You're looking at all our other...If, I mean, when the season starts it's not going to be the time that you guys are out there. Not that we're trying to hide anything, it's just the way it works. We get our kicking done early. He's always over in his free time taking snaps and doing things like that. We work backup holders. We work backup snappers. We have a lot of different situations. He was there for the team, did a nice job of keeping us in that game which could have been a very difficult situation. He was able to keep us in. Not only making field goals but getting a few punts in there."
On if there is a chance that Hanson would punt this week: "He's the backup punter in the game. He wouldn't go into the game as the punter."
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