On Friday, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham met with the media and largely talked about this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Below is a look at what they had to say. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On how QB Matthew Stafford is trending towards playing on Sunday: "Getting better every day."
On the urgency of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings: "Bye week, two games after that, none of them mean a thing. The only thing that means something is the Minnesota Vikings. That's urgent enough. The fact that it's a division game adds another layer to that because a win puts a loss on one of our division opponents. So those are the things that we're concerned with."
On how long it took guys to get over last week's loss against the Titans: "You need to be resilient in this League; there are going to be a lot of things that occur. A win against St. Louis on the last play of the game-you need to put that behind and go to work the next week. Whether it's a heartbreaking loss, or a blowout loss or a blowout win, you need to be able to put it behind and move on because there is a lot of season left. Guys that are around the NFL understand that. There's going to be tough times, there's going to be things that occur. The worst thing that can happen is if you let one week carry over to the next. I think our guys understand. They've been through a lot of different situations. We have good veterans, guys that have been around. They understand how important it is to bounce back and not let one week affect the next."
On playing better as a team in pass rush and everything else when you are dictating your tempo: "I think every team does, but for sure we do. I said a little bit before about how our pass rush was not what it can be and not what it should be last week. But part of that also, our offense can affect that. Not just our defense, our offense can affect that. If we get a lead and we're rushing in the third and fourth quarters then it's a little bit different. Our offense's ability to score; we always want to score enough points to win the game. That's the only objective, that's the only reason that we're out here. But scoring early can change the dynamic of the game and I think that it's important to get scores. We got field goals, which are good to get, but touchdowns can make a difference. But then again, you don't want to turn it over and have no score. There's a fine line between all those."
On S Amari Spievey resiliency and progression since training camp: "He played a lot last week. He's a guy that was a starter through most of last year. He's had some ups and downs in his early career. He came in as a corner, moved to safety. He's still a young player and hopefully still improving. I think that when he got on the field, he was on the field a little bit the week before with that also, but when he got on the field last week he showed some good things. He needs to keep those going."
On if playing with the wide defensive end scheme makes it harder to disguise a blitz: "You can still blitz from the outside. That defensive end needs to take an inside charge but people still blitz."
On creating turnovers so well last season but not having as much success in turnovers this season, particularly with interceptions: "We need to guard against trying to create turnovers. I think that we need to take the approach of everybody doing their job and the plays will come to us rather than pressing. You start swinging at bad pitches, you start striking out more if you're pressing and that's what on defense we need to (remember). Physical play will create turnovers. Guys doing their job, being in the right spot will create turnovers. But if you're trying to create them, you're trying for the wrong thing. What we should try to do is try to play good, fast, aggressive, physical team defense and when we do that, turnovers come. You can't press. There are some times where a quarterback throws the ball away rather than making a mistake. There are other ones where a lot of different things happen. But when you get all those other things working that I said, and then turnovers come. We expect they will for us."
On the upcoming bye week changing how you handle snap counts at all: "Nope. That has absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Whatever we have to do to win this game; play one snap, play 100 snaps, we expect all of the guys that are active on Sunday to be able to do it."
On if there is any extra impact on getting the win before the bye: "Do you guys got plans for next week? Everybody keeps asking about the bye (laughter). We have not mentioned it once. It's not even close to being on our minds and it's not part of our strategy at all. The answer to all those (bye week questions) is no. The only thing that is mattering is the Minnesota Vikings."
On WR Calvin Johnson mentioning it was tough to take a loss as a competitor and not being able to do anything about it because of the bye: "We play this week."
On wanting to win and not keep pulling losses regardless of the bye: "Whether we are playing next week or have a bye next week doesn't change. We want to win every single week. I don't understand. It's not more urgent to win because you have a bye, it's not less urgent to win if you don't have a bye. This is a division game, they're a good opponent, they're 2-1, and we're 1-2. There is enough urgency for all comers. We don't need to make anything else into it."
On Vikings WR Percy Harvin: "He's a tough competitor. He does a really good job returning kicks. He's multidimensional on offense, he runs the ball in the backfield, he runs the ball from a wide receiver position, and he's got 27 receptions so far. He's obviously been...he's a good blocker. He's really strong. He's been that way his whole career. Even going back to the University of Florida, they used him in a similar role and that's one of the reasons that they drafted him and one of the reasons he's made a lot of plays for them."
On Vikings rookie K Blair Walsh kicking out of his stadium or icing him or anything like that: "Each guy is probably a little bit different. Veteran player versus young players and things like that but there are some things that we can't really control. We can control how we rush a field goal, the pressure that we put on somebody, how many opportunities they get, how return teams are working more so than worrying about his psyche or anything else."
On some coaches rethinking the icing strategy: "Everyone is a little bit different."
On if there is a bye next week would you be less likely to ice (laughter): "Try to save all of our timeouts because we might need them in the bye week because we don't get accredited any in the bye week (laugher)."
On coaches using the icing strategy because they have nothing to lose by taking a timeout: "You see a guy, particularly if they are already in field goal range; the guy has plenty of time to warm up. I mean I think everybody has played golf, everybody has been to a batting cage - you can get into a little groove. You sit at the driving range most of them end up pretty good. But you go from playing one hole and hitting a mid-iron and hitting a sand wedge, hitting another sand wedge and then hitting three puts like I do (laughter) and then you go back up to the t-box, you're not in the same groove. Basketball coaches do them for free throws. Again, there is a groove-nature to things like that. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Just because you took a timeout and the guy still made it doesn't mean it may not have been useful. Just because he misses it doesn't mean he missed it because he was iced. We don't expect it to be cold at Ford Field on Sunday so we'll see how it goes."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
On his frustration with DT Corey Williams' injury and losing to Tennessee: "Well that, and losing the game wasn't fun especially on two plays like that. When you're in position to make plays you've got to make them. You got to knock the ball down and go through the guy and make sure he doesn't even think about catching it, you know? That was frustrating. And then Corey Williams, he's a good man. You know, he's going to be around all the time. I just asked him if he'll be at the meeting Saturday night and he said he wouldn't miss it. He's one class act and he'll be back quicker than you know."
On how he plans to correct issues in the secondary: "Well you know, it's like I said. They averaged four yards a catch in the second half when we were just locking up man to man every down I think. We're in position to make that one play and we didn't. You know, safety takes a bad angle tries to swipe at the ball, I mean, I've never seen one like that. But the rest of the time I thought they played pretty good at that point."
On team's getting rid of the ball quickly preventing plays from his defensive line: "Yeah, it doesn't take long. Just take a stop watch. I always tell the guys they have 2.24 seconds to get there and that's in a hurry. You know, you got a long ways to go through a lot of people to get to the quarterback and he was probably throwing at about a 1.9. He was dealing it quick and they had the one deep ball and we screwed up the rush which I was real happy about at that point. And they gave him too much time and we had four guys on that one. Everybody tried to go for the ball instead of just unloading on the receiver and make sure he didn't catch it."
On the cornerbacks playing loose coverage: "Well, if you play tight all they have to do, you get an outside release it could be a touchdown. I coached against Joe Theismann in Indianapolis in 1985 I think it was. We still laugh. Every time he sees me he laughs and I was in the secondary coaching. Didn't make the calls but we pressed him all the way. Every time we got in the no zone thirty yard line he threw a touchdown pass. And you know, you have to change your techniques and what we were doing, we were playing off man. We have different varieties of techniques that we play and it was good against them because their speed wasn't a factor. I think they got some good receivers but we've faced a lot faster than that."
On issues with the defensive line "Well, there are a couple of issues. One of them is to help Dan (Crossman) on special teams and Ronnell Lewis is pretty good on it from what I understand. I've been watching him myself. But Lawrence (Jackson) has been up and down with some nagging injuries. He's got to get over that and start producing and playing.
On having low numbers at defensive tackle: "You know, those three guys should be pretty good by now. You know, I'm going to miss Corey (Williams) personally, but I think it's a good thing for (Nick) Fairley and Sammie Hill. Sammie Hill, I mean, he has come on the last two or three weeks and yesterday he had one of the best practices I've seen him have. He's excited about playing. Nick (Fairley) has to get on track. He's made some plays but I think they're inconsistent. But he's come along fine. You know, it will be fun to watch those three guys play inside. We can put LJ (Lawrence Jackson) inside too. He's played some in there. So we're not worried about the rotation."
On some of the young defensive players trying too hard to make plays: "You know, that's one of the finest questions I've heard. I think that's a big issue. You know, they all are trying so hard that they overdue things. The picture gets cloudy for them. By that I mean they're not reading the proper keys sometimes, overreacting. I said it last week and I'll say it this week. It's not like they're not trying to play. Stephen Tulloch did the same thing on that one pass down the middle. He sees something and tries to get the ball and we need to settle down and just play."
On stopping the run in the first three games this season: "It's a tough week to say it with this guy coming to town. You know, I hope Adrian (Peterson) slows down a little bit. He's one fine back. But if you look at the rest of the schedule it's like that every week. We are facing every top ten back there is in the league and I think we're tackling better. You know, we had the one the second game against San Francisco wasn't very good, but this last week we tackled on the run. He's a different kind of back, you know, he's quick. He's more like a third down back. Jamaal Charles at Kansas City looks like that but he plays like big boy pads. You know, he runs downhill. So we felt good about playing Tennessee against the run. This one's a different challenge. I watched the 49er-Minnesota game. Minnesota gave the 49ers a little taste of their own medicine. I haven't seen the 49ers play defense like that in a couple years, you know, since (Jim) Harbaugh's been there. But they ran at them and they wouldn't stop. They had a 16-play drive to open the game and it was old time football. Right down the middle. Tight end did a good job on the drive. They converted two 3rd-and-1s and a 4th-and-1 I think. So they're a tough team and we're going to have to muster up and stop that run."
On the defense not having an interception yet: "I think it's a combination of things. I've always believed that. You know, I had a defensive lineman, he was drafted as the ninth pick in the Draft and everybody said he's a bust after six games. So we played the Dallas Cowboys on a Sunday or Monday night, Leslie O'Neal got five sacks and then he got four the week after. So sacks, interceptions, fumbles they all come. It's just a matter of time and I think the way we play, the ball's coming out. It's coming out, we just haven't recovered it. We need to get the ball when it's in the air."
On how to get a team to make more interceptions: "I think, yeah, it's a combination of things. You know we had one out here, well, we had two today in practice in tipped balls. You know, you watch tape week in and week out. Maybe a guy's out of position and he'll get an interception or the ball's batted and they get an interception. So once you start getting them, you get them."
On if this year's QB Christian Ponder is similar to last year's: "No, no he's much, much improved overall. I liken him to Alex Smith. He manages things and he doesn't make errors right now. He doesn't have any interceptions and his quarterback rating is like 111 I think. He's really playing smart football and he's got a great back behind him. He's got that little, what's his name? Percy Harvin. I know him pretty well. I don't know whether he's a running back or a receiver but he's got a good tight end, he's got a good a receiver and he's got a good back. And the line, the line is totally different. They're really doing a good job."
On who Vikings WR Percy Harvin reminds him of: "Myself. I talked to him, I don't know what game it was, but I really like him. I respect the heck out of him. I think he'd be a great corner. You know, he's a running back already and a receiver so he'd probably play defense too. But, you know, I don't like to make comparisons but I do respect the heck out of that kid. Oh yeah, I think he's one of those guys like Titus Young or (Louis) Delmas, if they're not involved... You know if they're in baseball they're pitchers. If they're in basketball they're a point guard. These guys need the ball in their hands, you know? They go crazy when they don't get it. They're using him."
On the play of CB Jacob Lacey: "I'm genuinely excited about him. He's come along fine. You know, it's just a matter of, you get a new guy and it takes time. And it takes time to get to feel comfortable on a team and I think early on he point blank told me that. You know, he tried to prove things to his teammates and his coaches and I said ‘Hey, just go out and play.' This week's practice was even better than any other one I've seen so he's making a lot of progress and the ball will come to him."
On the return of the NFL officials: "I'm really trying to keep a straight face. I'm really excited they're back. I have a lot of friends and a couple of guys that don't like me very much, but I think, God Bless them for getting it done. You know, the regular officials are really good people and they are on things like that. You know, to have anybody new it's like, you were asking me about (Jacob) Lacey. You know, he's fitting in new. I think the replacement guys did as good of a job as they possibly could but I'm thankful that the real ones are back."
On the hopeful return of S Louis Delmas: "I'm excited. Any day he wants to come back I'll be ready. Open arms and get going, you know? So, I know he wants to play so hopefully he'll be well soon."
On the play of S Amari Spievey: "He's getting back in. Oh yeah, it's just a matter of time. He's really improved and he's worked at the things we asked him to work at. You know, he had a personal tragedy over the summer that really took him hard, you know. And I lost my father last year and I never even expected it to take me. Derrick Thomas a few years back really impacted my life. In his case, his personal life got affected by his cousin I believe it was. You know, and then he had the concussion a year ago. So a combination of things, but he's smiling, he's working hard and I'm excited about him getting back out there."