Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz had to say during his Monday press conference. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
On if there are similarities between DT Nick Fairley's performance this time last year compared to this season: "I think he's trending that way. He played really well during that stretch last year. I think he still has a ways to go to get back to that level. He still has been inconsistent. He played very well in spurts. I think that was encouraging, but there has also been some inconsistency. I think that's been one of the things that he's been working on throughout the course of this season."
On finding a balance between enjoying the success and understanding the challenges that lie ahead: "Honestly, I don't think there is any balance. We have six wins. That's not going to be enough. I don't know if anybody looks at it the way that, you know maybe people around the League and stuff like that. We don't talk about standings and things like that this time of year. You have to go out and prepare for your next opponent. You have to correct mistakes. You have to plug guys in for guys that are injured. That same thing I say every single week and that's just where we are. Everything else sort of goes out the window."
On the possibility of hosting a playoff game: "Good try. We got way too far to go to start talking about stuff like that. We're worried about this week. Good gracious, I mean, you know, we have enough challenges to get through practice on a Wednesday and a Thursday and a Friday and build a game plan. To start worrying about things that are two months down the road and the only way we'll get to two months down road is if we do a good job in the moment. I like the personality of our team when it comes to that. I know it's exciting for fans of our team and people around the League and things like that, but honestly, I think you can get side tracked by starting to get ahead of yourself as a team. We want to guard against that."
On where the team's personality comes from: "Being successful in this League is dealing with adversity and bouncing back and things like that. It's increasingly becoming part of the scope of the NFL to deal with praise and to deal with the accolades and things like that. It makes it difficult to stay level-headed. It makes it difficult to stay even-keeled throughout the course of a season. Even though we say all the time that it's only 16 games and 16 games doesn't sound like much, you only play once a week and those 16 games are a spread. You know, when you talk about training camp and everything else, you're talking about six months. It's a long season to get through. There are a lot of things that you have to persevere through and praise and success are some of those things. Quite honestly, that's something that in the past we haven't done a good job of dealing with. I think that's been a significant change in our team. Guys being able to bounce back from wins and keep level headed and things like that. That's one of the reasons why you bring in a player like Reggie Bush. A guy that has experience in all those different things and I think that he has set a good example that way."
On the defense being able to read the Bears' final play of the game: "Well, I mean they were a yard away. Both of their two-point plays, they tried to get the ball to, arguably, their best player. They got a lot of good players on offense, but (Matt) Forte. The first play was a sprint out and Rocky McIntosh did a fantastic job of getting him covered up and that's one of the reasons that that play was incomplete, even though we had a penalty on the play, it had nothing to do with Rocky or our execution of the scheme. There are a lot of plays that the Bears get down in to the red zone and they run the ball in. They ran one in the week before against Green Bay from the six inch line and stuff like that. Anytime you're a defensive lineman, you're first job is to stop the inside run. They attacked our perimeter for most of the game and for the most part, we did a good job of defending that. It was something that we were a little bit weak on in the first game we played against them. But like I said, I like the personality of our team. We went out and we corrected some mistakes that we made in the first game. We were strong in some areas. I thought we did a really good job against Forte, a player that we have a lot of respect for. A player that has made a lot of plays against us in the past. I think he had about 50 yards of total offense. I think that went a long way to us being able to keep the scoring down and come out with a win."
On how much TE Brandon Pettigrew is contributing to the Lions' run game: "A lot. I think anybody that watches our run game sees a lot of things we do with him off the line of scrimmage, just doing some dirty work when it comes to blocking. Reggie (Bush) had a big run late in the game. It was just a real simple play right up the middle and it was over our right side, which is (Larry) Warford and LaAdrian (Waddle) and I think a lot of people look at that as saying, ‘Oh, the two rookies made the play.' They executed their blocks, but the key block on that play was Pettigrew. Pettigrew's the guy that has the hardest angle and got his guy blocked, and Reggie's able to squirt through there and pick up a first down late in that game and set up that game-winning touchdown that we ended up scoring. He made two explosive plays in the pass game. He's played very consistent for us. I think that's really a testament to him. He kept his head down, kept on working, kept his confidence and I think we're seeing the results of that, both in the pass game, but also in the run game too."
On if RB Reggie Bush's ability to grind out first downs gives the Lions an element they have not had before in his tenure: "I wouldn't necessarily say we haven't had it before. You go back to last year, we played Jacksonville. Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure did a really good job of just salting that game away in those situations. Any running back's expected to be able to get that ball at the end and keep churning out first downs and things like that. He is a little bit more of an explosive-play type running back, but we saw last year when he was with the Dolphins, he can run between the tackles and he can run tough and also did a really good job of ball security there. They were trying to rip at that ball and he was very secure with the football."
On if the team's young receivers making big plays is because of their talent or because of QB Matthew Stafford getting the ball to them in the right spots: "It's certainly a combination of those and it's a combination of the offensive line providing protection also. I think all those guys have contributed and have come across with good things. (Kris) Durham made the touchdown catch in this game, he beat his man pretty easily, went over the top and (Tim) Jennings is a good player. Jennings has got a lot of interceptions. Matt gave him a good pass and he scored the touchdown. I've said this a bunch of times with us. We really don't care who scores, how we score, it's about getting touchdowns. I think that was in there in the last couple drives. One drive, even though it was his only catch of the day, Joe Fauria had an explosive reception, a 20+-(yard) reception and so did (Jeremy) Ross. I think Ross' might have been a little bit short of that, but they all made key contributions in there."
On if he has accomplished his goal of adding players to the team who would firm up the offensive line and limit interior pressure on the quarterback: "Well we're still a work in progress when it comes to it. We're improved there, but we're not a finished product. A lot of that also has to do with Matt (Stafford). Matt gets rid of the ball pretty quick, so that helps. Those guys have, and you have to put (Rob) Sims and (Dominic) Raiola in there, along with Larry (Warford). They've done a good job of giving the quarterback some room to be able to step up. That wasn't our best passing game of the year. The conditions were pretty tough. Both quarterbacks, (Jay) Cutler and Stafford, were right around 50-percent in completions. That's not unusual for Soldier Field. That wind was going pretty good. It might not seem like it up top, but that wind was going pretty good. It comes from a lot of different directions down there. It makes it difficult to throw the ball, but it makes it a lot easier if you're not getting pressured inside. I thought our tackles did a good job in that game too. Matt did a good job moving around in the pocket, almost had a touchdown pass when he escaped the pocket and bought some time and threw a ball in the end zone on the missed field goal drive."
On K David Akers' missed field goal and his concern level with Akers: "I think it is his second miss of the year. I mean, you can't hold a kicker responsible on blocks, unless he hits the ball low which he didn't on our blocks. He hit the ball good if you look at it. It started off right in the middle and then the wind took it. Like I said, it is a hard wind to judge. If you are on the 50-yard line you might not think the wind was blowing very much but when you get down into the end zone it was blowing significantly more. We were going back and forth early in that game on which way we wanted kick off. Pregame it was, ‘ok we are going to kick right-to-left' and then boom it was left-to-right, it just seemed to change all the time. That's just the way Solider Field is. We have a lot of confidence in David. David is good for our football team and he will certainly make a share of those kicks."
On LB Stephen Tulloch's game: "He's played good all year. When you stop the run the way we did and limit the receptions of the running back and the tight ends, your linebackers are playing pretty well. Stephen has and I think Ashlee Palmer, even though he didn't take a lot of reps in the game, Ashlee made a positive impact on the game and so did (DeAndre) Levy. Our linebacker position has been strong all year."
On the role they envisioned CB Rashean Mathis would have when they signed him: "Part of the reason we signed him, number one, he was in great shape and moved really well in the workout. In the 2012 season he dealt with an injury pretty much the whole year, so we got a chance to see where he was physically and he was impressive in the workout. Number two, because of his experience and his intelligence, we knew that we could plug him in to a lot of different places. We didn't necessarily have a role in mind at that time, we were open-minded when it came to it. I mean we even worked him at some safety in the preseason. During the season our safeties have been relatively healthy and we haven't had to use him in any role like that but he has played both corner spots. He's played the nickel spot and he's also played the dime spot. He has definitely been a key acquisition for us with that multidimensional ability and his intelligence. He goes out on the field and I think it is good for a young guy like (Darius) Slay to be able to have a veteran like Mathis around. Even though Mathis gave up some plays down the field too, he came back the very next play, bounced back and defended the ball. He never looked stressed when he was out on the field and I think that is a difference. If you are a corner in this League, you are going to give up passes, that is just life in the NFL, nobody is going to pitch a shutout every single time out but it's also how you bounce back from a reception and how you go about it the next play and your ability to be consistent and make the plays that count over the course of the game. "
On the assessment of DE Devin Taylor's first start: "He had an impact on the game. Even though, early in the game, we weren't making sacks on (Jay) Cutler, we had a lot of pressure, we blitzed probably more in this game than we had in the past. Again, the blitzes weren't getting home but they were having their effect, number one, with hits on the quarterback but number two, disrupting the timing of what they wanted to do. You saw a lot more balls in the dirt than you see from a quarterback like Jay Cutler. Devin was a part of that and every time he has gone on the field for us he has done his job. A lot of our perimeter defense and getting some of those flips and tosses and reverses and things like that fell to our defensive ends. If those guys hadn't played well then we wouldn't have been able to contain those plays the way that we did."