Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had to say after Friday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ QUOTE SHEET
On if reputations impact referees: "No. That's just the way the game is now. People need headlines and stuff like that. We just play football. We don't worry about what other people write about it or what other people say about it. It certainly wouldn't affect the referees."
On LBs Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy stopping offenses' run games: "They have played very well, as has Ashlee Palmer and Rocky McIntosh when he's had to play in our short yardage packages. That's been a big key for us. It's not just our linebackers, our d-line, our safeties and our corners tackled well last week. That has a lot to do with it also. We still have a long way to go. We still have given up too many big plays. We're still a work in progress there, but if we can get the run stopped it goes a long way to getting us to where we want to go."
On Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley: "He's just really strong. He's compact. He's strong. He can power through blocks. He's good in their scheme. He's a good fit for what they want to do and he's been a consistent player for a long time. He's definitely a guy that we have to take care of. Our ability to protect the passes and to get the run started has a lot to do with getting guys like Woodley blocked."
On if it's a difficult challenge for a young offense to stop a blitzing defense like the Steelers: "It's a different kind of challenge than the last couple of weeks we have had that were pretty much straight 4-3 teams. It's different, it's not any more difficult or easier. You have to sort some things out. There are different matchups and things like that. They've made their reputation over a long period of time by creating negative plays, by getting turnovers, by sacking the quarterback, by getting lost-yardage runs and we'll have to avoid those things. If we can avoid negative plays and keep the offense on track, we'll have a good chance."
On WR Calvin Johnson's health: "I've said this from the very beginning, we have 53 guys plus practice squad players that aren't 100-percent right now. He's been good enough to get his job done. His job is to be a playmaker for us. His job is to change the way the defenses play the game and he's been able to do that. We also try to take a long approach with Calvin and know that it's not one-game seasons. We got a long season ahead, and we still do. We're just past the halfway point, we still have a long way to go and he's a big part of that. We're going to do whatever we can to keep him a part of that."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
On if it is respect that teams fear DT Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh: "I don't know about that, I am here coaching our guys and I don't see it from the outside. I do know one thing about our guys, they are into it, they are having fun, and they're all together. Last week was another great team win. We have had a couple of them this year where we are pulling together. First thing I did was come in the locker room and tell Scott (Linehan) what a heck of a call he made on that last touchdown. I was looking for him to run it and when he threw it I went "Whoa". That's how you win, you have to take those chances and it is fun to see all three phases pull together. We are not perfect by any means on defense but I think we play hard."
On why the Lions defense doesn't get ‘Fancy': "We hit the quarterback 15 times last week. The idea of rushing the passer is to get the quarterback off his set-up. When he hits that back foot and comes around to throw, let's make him move and we made him move. I saw early on that we were going to be pretty good at it last week and hopefully that will continue. That will help the coverage element because every time you send an extra guy it puts a lot more stress on the coverage that we're in. I don't like three man pass rushes but the blitz has its time and its place. We did dial up a few of them last week and a few of them came free. We are just going to keep working on our thing and try to win games. Our four won against their seven sometimes and couple of times eight, that made me feel good. I think what happened to us should go throughout the league. The individual sack things, so what, how many games did you win? For us, I really respect our line coaches and I have the utmost respect for guys like (Ndamukong) Suh and (Nick) Fairley and the young kids coming in. Devin Taylor, we talked about him last week, he is making great strides, he got better last week. I am excited about all that."
On the sack numbers not meaning much as long as they get the quarterback off his spot: "I love statistics, I really do. I think I should've probably been a numbers guys and gotten out of this game a few years back. I probably wouldn't have as many gray hairs. There is a site called Pro Football Focus, which is magnificent. If you look at that we are like third in pass rush. By sacks we are like last but the idea is the pressure rush and to get the quarterback to throw bad balls and get off the field on third down. That was the biggest disappointment in the first half of the last game. I came out of the box and talked with Jim (Schwartz) all the way through the first half, I said ‘We are missing the bonus on third down, they are 5-for-8, and we need to put a stop to this now. We challenged the players and they were 2-for-9 and one of them was a nothing play. They rose to the occasion. We are trying to play situation football more than worry about anything else."
On DE Ezekiel Ansah's progress with his injury: "He works real hard in the meeting room and he pays attention. He walks by me every day and I don't know if he thinks it's funny but I do, I am pretty upbeat with him to try and get him in a good frame of mind which he seems to be in. I was glad he was back out there today working some of the drills."
On length of the practices affecting S Louis Delmas: "You have to practice to play and he is trying to do everything he can on the side. It is a good thing to have him out there regardless of what anybody else thinks. I know how I feel when he is out there. I just wish he would cut down on the pregame thing. They have this meeting when we warm up, believe it or not I worry about our quarterbacks, they have a séance meeting before our 7-on-7 that lasts for about 12 hours I think, I get tired standing there. He is still the heartbeat of this place, especially on our side of the ball. We know what is going on with him and he will be ok."
On Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell: Bell is a heck of a running back. Todd Haley, first of all, I hear a lot of things said about him too, I'm sure almost as much as me. I think he's a hell of a coach. I really do. We were talking about some of the designs of their pass offense this morning. He is a tough veteran coach, so for him to play a rookie running back says a lot right there. The other thing that shocks me is how well he catches the ball. He has exceptional hands out of the backfield, they don't take him off the field. He's becoming their bell cow just running it, but he's also in there to catch it. They split them out and go no backs in the backfield and for him to know all those things at this point...he's going to be a fine player in the league and we're going to have to deal with him."
On the Steelers running a Wildcat formation in their last game: "Oh yeah. You talk about rookies and young guys playing. If you watch any of that, you watch them catch the ball when the center snaps it, it's like a quarterback, maybe even better than some of the quarterbacks. I've seen them run wheel routes, which are down the sideline. Antonio Brown threw the ball to him in the Seattle game and the pass was a tough catch, because the defensive back or linebacker was in good shape. He pulled that thing in and it really showed what he's all about."
On the Lions linebackers: "We pick a player of the week and obviously (Ndamukong) Suh played really well as many of the other defensive linemen did. I went to Matt Burke and said, ‘Matt, what do you think about the linebackers?' Like all coaches, they want every coach to have their say and I said, ‘Well I'll make this easy. I'll pick (Stephen) Tulloch and (DeAndre) Levy right now.' I thought they played outstanding. I think that's the best I've seen that duo play. And actually Ashlee Palmer played really well too. He made a tough play on the first play of the game. Rocky McIntosh goes in and he did it again last week and made a great play on that fourth down. Matt's done a good job with those guys and they're growing in the right direction."
On if he is concerned about the Lions' two personal fouls late in the fourth quarter: "We work on all those things. The (Nick) Fairley penalty, that's the rule. When you watch it, he really doesn't do anything to the guy, but that's the rule. They have to call those things, so you have to deal with it and make sure it doesn't happen. The one on Willie Young was unbelievable and that's the way the game is and that's the rule. Willie Young makes a great effort on that play, outstanding. He launches himself in to make sure the guy can't get out and his helmet hits the quarterback's helmet. So same thing. You see it throughout the league. There are shots where people are fined. We coach, they fine, and we look at it, they look at it. And there may be a difference of agreement on it, but the league has rules, so you have to live with it."
On what the two late personal fouls mean: "I've coached this game for a long time and most of the teams that I've coached on defense, they've played hard. Jim Washburn - I'm going to say he's coached longer than I've have because he's older, so you need to write that - but Jim coaches hard, Matt (Burke) does. We all coach hard. Our thing is going to the ball as fast as we can. We don't want to get penalties, and I've said that before. If one of our guys ever hits somebody in the back, that would crush me. That's not what this is all about. It's trying to play as hard as you can and not get penalties. Jim has done a great job with it. He's had some of the best meetings I've ever seen where he brings up examples. Now we're probably in that example for those penalties. It could have cost us big time. I didn't want them to get it. I'm sure those two guys (didn't either). Nick said something to me right afterwards. He wanted to know what I said in the press box. I said, ‘You don't want to know what I said in the press box.' But there's dialogue between us, so there has to be respect. He's a young guy and Willie's a young guy. They'll get better at it and we don't want them to do that."