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 DE Devin Taylor being ready for an expanded role: "He's played well in every role that we have given him this year. He's affected games and that's what we expected when we drafted where we did. When Jason Jones went down, he needed to step up. If we need him to step up more, we think he's capable of doing that."
On what sets QB Matthew Stafford apart from other QBs: "Just really good. Quarterback play, I think it's at an all-time high. It's not just one guy here or there. It's a lot of guys and a lot of skilled players around the League. I think that offenses are able to take advantage of that. I think we're no different than a lot of other teams that way."
On teams being less inclined to try and protect a young quarterback: "I don't know what you're protecting. You want to go get him on the field playing for you. I think that protecting means that a guy is not ready. I think guys are coming out of college a lot more ready. We had the advantage of having off season stuff to be able to get them ready. I think there are a lot more quarterbacks that are game ready. We're not converting guys from running the option to having to throw the ball when they threw the ball eight times a game in college. There are a lot of guys that are very proficient, not just in high school, but also in college throwing. I think you saw our ability to get Matt ready. I think you've seen it around the League with a lot of other guys also."
On the big numbers Matthew Stafford can produce: "That's too far in the future to even really think about. I think we'll all be judged by the number of wins that we produced, rather than the number of passing yards, touchdowns or anything else. Bottom line in the League, when you're a team is how many wins you get and when you're a quarterback, it's your job to lead a team to wins. If that means throwing for 100 yards or throwing for a 1,000 yards, however you get that win is the only important thing."
On Bears QB Jay Cutler starting on Sunday affecting the Lions game planning for Sunday: "We didn't game plan any different because their offense had stayed pretty much the same with (Josh) McCown or Cutler. With a big game like this, we'd expect all hands on deck like I said yesterday. We were ready for Cutler. It didn't catch anybody by surprise. He's a good quarterback. We'll have to do our very best against him and control what we can control and that's our week of preparation."
On noticing division teams carrying anything over from game one to game two: "I think division opponents know each other real well. We played a lot of teams that we hadn't really faced before when it came to different schemes early in the year, like the Redskins. Cleveland, we hadn't really faced them even though we faced Norv Turner type teams before. There is nothing like division opponents. There are not a whole lot of surprises on each side. Each team knows the personnel real well. They have a good idea of what to expect from schemes and stuff like that. There are not a whole lot of secrets. It's who can perform best on Sunday and who can execute the best. That will be the team that comes out on top."
On WR Nate Burleson being included in the mantra "All Hands on Deck": "We'll get anybody that's able to play, we'll get them out on the field to play."
On the ability to decipher how division teams will play WR Calvin Johnson due to better understanding their personnel: "I think teams have a little bit of a track record. Chicago is a little bit different because they have a new defensive coordinator this year. We did face him once last year with Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams have different plans for Calvin. What you see on film doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to see what you saw the week before when they game plan for Calvin. I think track record does mean something. We played these guys a month ago. There's some familiarity. I think they know, sort of, a lot about us. We know a lot about them. It's going to come down to whoever executes best on Sunday."
On noticing if opponents emphasize offensive scheming against the Lions more than against other opponents: "I think every team, there are some good pass-rush teams in the League. Teams have ideas of what they want to do to them. The last time we faced these guys, we didn't see a whole lot of seven-man protection. They chipped a little bit and did some of that. It wasn't a ton of that stuff. That changes from week-to-week. I think some of that stuff is dictated by game conditions, by score. If it's real windy and you're running the ball and it's hard to throw, you're not going to be protecting as much. If you're behind in the game and you have to throw to catch up, maybe it changes your protection schemes."
On being alert to Chicago running fakes on their kickoff returns: "Yeah. They got Devin Hester, so we'll be ready for him. I think that if they want to run reverses and stuff like that and it's not in Devin Hester's hands, we'll have to go rally to the reverse. Playing gadgets and things like that, that's just part of what goes on. I think we're going to have to especially be alert on special teams with, you know they got a punt block last week and gave up an onside kick. They're going to be, just like any team, they're going to be out to prove that they can get things fixed and they can take care of it and they're going to try to make a big play on special teams. In the past, we have given up some plays to Devin Hester. I think one of the keys to our victory early in the season is that we did a good job punting, we did a good job with kickoff and our coverage worked hand-in-hand with our kicks to sort of negate his effectiveness in the game. We're going to have to do the same thing. The wind might be a little bit in play. It's going to be a different surface. Our ability to limit his touch is going to keep him from making big plays and is going to be big in this game."
On fourth quarter scoring being exceptional: "We're trying just as hard in fourth quarter as we are in the second quarter, third quarter and the first quarter. Our guys stay throughout the game. We have hard to score in a couple games in the fourth quarter. I think Cleveland was one we scored a bunch of points. I think Minnesota we came back and scored a punch in the third and fourth quarters. We try to play all 60 minutes."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM QUOTE SHEET
On how Bears WR Alshon Jeffery has made their offense more dynamic: "We recently, starting with Cleveland, have played some pretty big receivers and he is one of those guys. He is a tough guy and he knows how to run the routes the right way. Most of the corners that play are only about 5-8 or 5-9 and he is about eight feet tall. He is very dangerous down in the red zone and he does a good job blocking. Overall it has made them a much, much more productive offense."
On if he is happy that they know Bears QB Jay Cutler will start: "In the NFL you really don't sleep so it doesn't make a difference. We know Cutler pretty well, I have coached against him a lot, all the coaches here have. The other kid we had to really study and make sure we knew what we were getting into if he started so we are ready for both of them. A couple of years ago that happened with Minnesota, Brett Favre was there and Joe Webb was playing. I had so many game plan sheets I didn't know which one was which but they worked and we won so hopefully we keep going in the right direction."
On what the Lions need to do to get more pressure from the defensive line: "That is a great question because I have been working on that particular subject. When you make a tackle or you get a sack it is like you hit a home run in baseball or make a three pointer in basketball. To me you disrupt the quarterback's rhythm. We are not getting the guys on the ground right now. I looked at a lot of tape this week, talked with Kris Kocurek and Jim Washburn and we are inches away. Last time against Cutler we got about three sacks but there should have been at least five other ones. So many people see the play, so many people see the home run, what they don't see is the disruption of the quarterback. The idea is to make him move off of his spot. He takes a three step drop and his back foot hits, don't let him stay there and that's what our guys do a good job of. We were laughing the other day because we get what we call "chipper protection" which is five offensive linemen, two tight ends and they drill the defensive ends and basically double team everybody upfront. We are breaking that and still getting to the quarterbacks face and the DB's are getting better at their job. We go into games and that's not there. We don't see it in the pictures. They come in and play us and there they are, seven guys blocking again which means three man routes. All in all I can't answer the question about the sacks other than I would like to see them on the ground too. Our opponents must be worried about something. I think if you ask (Tony) Romo he would tell you what that worry is. When (Nick) Fairley hit him the first time, I thought it was over, he was not going to get up. Well Fairley hit him two more times after that and a couple other guys hit him. The idea is to disrupt his throws and I think we are doing that. I think as we develop the young guys we are going to get home. I am not that concerned about it. We have to keep winning, that's the bottom line."
On if the young guys could be the difference in getting those sacks: "Oh yeah. They have so much athletic skills. It is no different, I know we are talking about linemen, but if you look at (Darius) Slay, he played against the Cowboys that I still can't get over. As I look at it, he didn't trust himself, he could've made that play on the slant where the guy scored. The defensive ends, I saw Devin Taylor come off the right side, I went ‘My God he's got him' but something happens where they aren't quite trusting themselves. It is not about ability it is about trusting yourself and experience. "
On if he has resisted the urge to blitz in the first part of the season: "We are in close games, there was nobody blowing anybody out so it's a tough call. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. We were struggling at that time on some coverage's and we are getting better at that so I am looking forward to the next eight games."
On Phil Simms' comment that when you play quarterback against the Lions you play with one foot in the bucket: "He must have Googled some names, I don't know. I know Phil real well, and you're right, he had two Super Bowls. He's one of my favorite quarterbacks because he's a real one. He doesn't mess around, he's tough. I can't answer the questions you're asking and I see the same thing you're seeing, but I think I know why. I want to keep that part to myself. We have some big men up there in the middle and you're talking about...I saw (Tony) Romo's, he could buy this whole building and maybe our stadium too with that money. And you don't want that guy to get hit. I think we have some pretty big strong guys, they collide with those quarterbacks, they're going to feel it. I think people are aware of that. They have to make sure they get them blocked, like (Ndamukong) Suh. There isn't a play that I can remember where he single-blocked. Now we're putting him on the edge more and he's doing a pretty good job out there, but you have (Nick) Fairley, you have Suh and I think one of the most unsung players on this team is C.J. Mosley. To me, we lost Corey (Williams) and he came in and helped us, so we have some pretty healthy guys up there."
On where the bad passes that occurred in preseason and training camp have gone that happened as a result of the extra protection of opposing offensive lines: "I don't know. That ball's coming out now. They're not holding the ball. You have to try to get them to hold it and like I said, the corners are coming around. We're playing better. I thought Chris (Houston) had probably one of the better games I've ever seen him play against Dallas. Rashean Mathis is amazing. He just keeps playing and he's very productive for us. The combination of the quick throws, you'd like to get your hands on them more, but if you do, then you're slowing down your rush. I'm talking about the defensive line batting the balls down. I've never been big on that. I coached Jerry Ball who played here, who's about as tall as me. He had six batted passes in one game and we lost. Now he's 5-11 and knocked the ball down. I don't know about all those statistics. I think the most important one is to win the game. I don't give a damn how you do it. I think we're playing well as a team and each phase doing their job and that's helping us."
On how the defensive ends have played: "For me, it's more about the growth of the young guys. I thought Devin Taylor did it two weeks prior when we really got him involved. I kept seeing him and seeing him and he kept making plays, and now he's in the rotation and he's making plays. We just need to keep working with those guys, because it's like I told Jim Washburn, when you get Ziggy Ansah and he ran 21.9, 21.6 (seconds) at 250 pounds in the 200 meters, don't tell me he can't run now. It's just the youth of those guys, and we talked earlier, we have a lot of new people playing and we need to keep growing. Fortunately we won five of the first eight, so hopefully we play better than that in the second half. We need to cut down on the big plays. We were playing the Cowboys and they didn't do anything. They must have had 100 yards late in the fourth quarters, they hit those two passes, we can't do that. You can't give points away in this game, because it can come back to haunt you."