LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET
On getting key offensive players back for Sunday's game: "It's good to see those guys practicing and it's a lot different looking at your game plan knowing that Calvin (Johnson) is going to be ready to go."
On what changes he's made to his game plan for Sunday: "Well, he (Johnson) just has a unique skill set and so it just opens up a lot of possibilities. Certain plays become a lot better because Calvin Johnson is out there and there are maybe some plays that you wouldn't run because there's no one else like him in the world. There's certain things you do with him that you wouldn't bother doing with mere mortals."
On if he needs to ease Johnson back in at all: "I think you just have to keep an eye on him. I think he's so disciplined in the way he approaches the game. I think he's kept in as good of shape as he can, but I think you still want to make sure that you're not wearing him out his first week out. But I think you'll know during the game, just keep an eye on it and see how he's doing."
On what Johnson's return means for the other wide receivers who had more playing time during his absence: "I think they'll still all have roles, but there's only 60 to 70 plays in a game and obviously he'll be getting his share of looks, maybe less looks for other people."
On how difficult the past month was for him as a play caller with the amount of injuries the Lions had: "Looking back, I think a lot of times you write the story after it's done, it's kind of part of the fun of coaching is the challenges and trying to come up with the work arounds for those kind of things. When you're on the airplane and you realize you might be starting a tight end you just met, it's kind of hard. Because we won, you look back and say, ‘Well, that was a challenge that was fun to me.' If we'd gone 0-3 in those three games maybe it wouldn't have felt as fun, but that's just part of the game, part of the challenges of coaching. It's never perfect, it never works out as well as you hope it does. I'm proud of the way the guys handled it."
On if he talked to TE Kellen Davis to find out his strengths and weaknesses as he game planned for Atlanta: "Not so much what his strengths and weaknesses are, but what can this guy learn and do, which it was pretty impressive what he was able to accomplish in the short time. He's obviously a very smart player and Ron Prince did a good job with him. There was still some question about the other tight ends and where they'd be available, so it's really just having that flexibility in your game plan. Alright, this is 11 personnel, but we can back it up with 10, or with Jed Collins playing that role and so on. So, it's just making sure you're cross training a number of players to fill the role of that position."
On if the last month made him a better offensive coordinator: "I hope every month does. We're all trying to improve every day. I think if anything, even with the quarterback, because you have to work with some of these players more, you get to know them. So hopefully it makes us a better offense moving forward because you've got a real full flavor of what Golden (Tate) can do, you got some more confidence in Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross and some of these guys that had to step up their game. You say, ‘Hey, these guys are capable.' You get a better feel of what they're capable of and moving forward, that should help us all."
On where RB Theo Riddick fits in with the running backs at this point with RB Reggie Bush's return: "I think they both have a role. Obviously, they both have certain skills that cross over that are a little redundant, and so in some ways they eat at each other's reps. But they're both very good players, they're both players that can do things extremely well, and so I think you use them both. You try to get them both on the field maybe at the same time. Neither of them are real big guys, and so you're always saying, ‘Hey, I don't want to get this guy hit 20 times a game.' But if you've got two of them, they both can get hit 10 times a game."
On if Riddick will take some of Bush's reps: "I think that he will have reps, whether he's taking them from Reggie or whoever. I don't know, but there's certain things that he does extremely well that you want to make sure that he keeps doing."
On why Riddick hasn't had more reps up to this point: "I think when Reggie goes down, he just kind of gets highlighted. He's certainly has had some of those plays called that maybe the ball didn't go to him like you saw in the Atlanta game or the Minnesota game. Like I said, those players do have some skills that crossover, so when one of them is out, the other guy is going to be highlighted a little bit more."
On if he expects a boost to the running game with Johnson back: "You hope so. Teams are going to be a little less willing to put an extra safety down in the box, so a lot of times it pulls a defender out of there that can immediately fill in on the run. So yeah, you hope that helps the running game."
On QB Matthew Stafford being hit only once in Atlanta and if it was attributed to an adjustment in the play calling or just better execution up front: "I think it's probably a little bit of both, but I think the O-line played really well and that certainly helped, no doubt."
On if a performance like the way the offensive line protected Stafford is something the team can build off: "Yeah, I hope so. We're obviously playing a defensive line this week that has two really good rushers on the edge and they can get some push inside, so every week will be a new challenge. It's something that every week we're very aware of and trying to make sure we're protecting the quarterback. Like you said, I think we executed pretty well in that phase of the game in Atlanta."
On what makes Dolphins DE Cameron Wake difficult to deal with: "Great get off, anticipation of the snap count, great speed, he can just run almost parallel to the ground. He can run on the side of his feet full speed, so they're bending and they're turning and they're not giving you a surface area. And then the ability to have a counter rush when you jump his main rush, so he and number 50 (Olivier Vernon) on the other side are both really good rushers."
On how much the game plan has evolved from where the team started to present day and if he anticipates added nuances to it: "Yeah, I think every season you're not adding a whole bunch of plays, but you're experimenting with different concepts during the week that you might attack a new defense with or a defense that you're facing. Sometimes those concepts kind of catch on and by the end of the year, what was an experiment becomes a main part of your offense. A lot of that is depended on who's playing, how they're playing and what you find out and discover as a coach what they're good at. I think you always want to evolve somewhat going forward, so you're not just throwing out the same offense every single week and teams can get a beat on you."
On using Riddick and Bush on the field at the same time: "I think when you have those kinds of players you want to be able to get as many of them on the field at the same time."
On how he plans on implementing TE Joe Fauria into the game on Sunday: "It's a good question and it's something that we've had to deal with a few times this year. You want to have some things if he's ready, but not be dependent on him. That's the hard part is when you're like, ‘Alright, he's going to do these 10 things, he's a major part of our game plan.' No one else can really fill that role and then all of the sudden, he's gone in the first quarter. And now you're like, ‘Uh-oh. We've got to come up with some plays here.' So, you just have to have some plays for him, but not be dependent on him."
On how Fauria looked in practice: "I thought he looked good. I think a lot of it depends on how he feels today."
On not using tight ends often in the passing game thus far and if it's just a part of the offense or because of injuries: "No, certainly there were plays that were called that if he's open, we were hoping to throw it to them. And I think we threw it to them and maybe we just didn't complete as many as we were hoping to, but I think this will be a tight end-friendly offense. Especially when those guys get back, I think you'll see the growth."
On what it does to younger players like Fuller and Riddick when they come through and make winning plays: "I think it builds confidence. I think the way that we won these games the last two weeks, there was some bleak moments, some moments of despair in both of those games. You kind of build a confidence in a team and that we'll find a way to win, which is good. Some teams have this feel that we find a way to lose, I think if you put a couple of those back to back, I'm hoping that really builds the confidence of this whole team that we're going to find a way to win these games and that's the character of this team."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TERYL AUSTIN QUOTE SHEET
On how impressed he is with Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: "He has gotten so much better. I know we played them last year it was a little different system. What he's doing this year is using his leg more which opens up some things for him in the pass game and the play action. I think he's doing a heck of a job, he's really come on. Last week he played outstanding and he's going to be quite a challenge because you have to account for him in all facets."
On what he thinks he has in LB Kyle Van Noy: "What we saw in the preseason. A guy who's active, runs around, going to get around the football and make some plays, and we'll see what we can do to get him on the field this week and see where he is."
On how big of a role Van Noy could have: "The game will dictate how big his role is and he can be in a couple different spots."
On how much DT Ndamukong Suh's workload will be increased with DT Nick Fairley out: "Yeah, it did in the second half last game but I think what we'll do is we'll still try to make sure he's not taking every rep. For a defensive lineman that's a little bit hard so we'll have a rotation in there. He may end up playing and when we say more snaps I don't think it'll be 15-20 more snaps a game, but we're talking maybe five to eight more snaps a game."
On the key to a defense when facing a conservative and efficient offense: "We have to change that. We have to create some negative plays. We have to get them behind the down and distance marker, to try to get them into third and longs, and to do some things they're uncomfortable with. Like you said the biggest thing we have to do is play great on first and second down to get the situation in our favor."
On if the defense has to be conscious of Dolphins WR Mike Wallace: "Absolutely. He can still run, he can flat go, and so you have to know where he is. They take advantage of him, they'll run reverses with him, they'll run him on over routes, they'll run him on double moves to try to get him free, and he creates a problem. When he goes deep you better be with him because he'll run right by you. Our guys are really aware of where he's going to be."
On what the phrase "He's a football player" means to a defensive coach: "Usually when you refer to a guy like that sometimes it doesn't matter what the scheme is. It doesn't matter what the x's and o's are. He just kind gets the game and the game makes sense to him. He's able to make some plays that sometimes you don't draw up. As coaches sometimes we like to say, "Oh yeah we taught him that." We don't teach them everything and that's probably what he means. I see the same thing and he's (Tannehill) a good football player. He was a receiver for his first two years in college now, he's a quarterback and he's playing quarterback in the NFL. That's a pretty special type of guy."
On why the run defense has been so successful this season: "We have good guys up front and they play hard. Our guys come off the ball, we change the line of scrimmage, and it frees up our linebackers to run and play. Our guys up front do a heck of a job and we hope to continue to do that."
On S James Ihedigbo and S Glover Quin helping in the run defense: "Run defense is like anything, it's an effort. Everybody has to work together because if we are great upfront but then maybe a safety is not fitting where he needs to or linebackers not where he needs to then you have runs that pop out. If you don't have proper rotation on the back end, if a run does get through there then those become big runs. We've been really good, knock on wood, with our rotations and we've been really good with our fits so we have to continue that. It's really going to be important this week with the amount of misdirection. The type of running game they have we have to make sure that we're very disciplined with our eyes, very disciplined with our fits, and very disciplined with our rotation."
On how much the offense controlling the clock has helped the defense this season: "It helps a ton. When they're holding it that allows our guys to be rested. When we go out and we're rested and we're playing fast and hard we're pretty hard to block. When they control the clock it makes us a better defense."
On what it's like emotionally watching the defense close out a game as opposed to watching the offense win a game: "To me it's a sign of a team that's coming of age and a team that has a chance to be good if you can win a game both ways. If you can close it out on offense or on defense we need to shut them down and get the ball back, whatever it is if we're able to do that I think it's great for our team. I enjoy them both."
On how DT Caraun Reid has played this season: "Good, he's getting better. I think he gets better every week. He was pressed into action in our last game and I thought he did a fine job."
On if Van Noy can help in the linebacker rotation: "It all depends on what kind of packages we get in terms of is it our base personnel or our sub personnel. Sometimes when you play teams that you don't play a whole lot of base defense they're going to be in three wide, so there's not a lot of rotation room in there. So it all depends on what we get back."
On his thoughts about playing in London next season: "I haven't given it one thought because we got a game Sunday."
On how Dolphins TE Charles Clay stacks up against others players they have faced: "I think he's really good. When we played them last year he gave us problems. He caught a fade touchdown on our corner who's a pretty good corner. He gives you some matchup problems in the pass game because he can run, he's athletic, and he's got really good hands. You have to be aware of him because I think he's an emerging player in this league who I think is going to be really good."
Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin's quotes from Thursday
A recap of Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin's comments from Thursday.
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET