LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET
On how QB Matthew Stafford has handled being sacked this year: "One thing you can say about that guy is that he's as tough of a guy that I've ever been around. He's taken more hits than we want but he bounces back and never lets it affects him, so it's been impressive."
On how the offensive line has been performing recently: "We've been going against some good fronts and there have been some sacks on plays, certain protections where it's not necessarily on the o-line. Some of the sacks this year have been on these protections where you think it's like a three step ball out type thing or he's rolling out. We took a sack on kind of this turn protection and some of that the quarterback has to get the ball out of his hands because some of these are, ‘Hey look we hope this guy is open, if he's not get rid of the ball.' There have been a couple of those so there are a number of factors that lead to it but obviously we want to decrease the number of sacks we're taking."
On if two back sets were part of the play sheet that he cut: "It was really that one week that we cut back and it wasn't necessarily that significant. Every game plan is different and you're looking to match up your offense against a defense. We were in a number of two back sets but they were with a fullback, not two tail backs. It was just kind of the flow of the game and I was even surprised after the game maybe that he (Theo Riddick) didn't play more, but like guys know there's similar skillset between him and Reggie (Bush). When you're putting one on the field you're taking one off. If you're putting both on you're taking one of your receivers off so it's just that puzzle that you're always working on. He's a good player, he's been productive, and certainly someone we're going to use him in the future. I think it was kind of a one game anomaly."
On if he's trying to get the ball to TE Eric Ebron quicker so he can use his athleticism: "Every game you kind of have sections on your call sheet. You've got three steps plays, five step plays, and seven step. You got play-action, movements, and you try to work them all into the game. You're mixing up your play selection and some of those plays have been ones that he's been open when it's happened. Is it a conscious decision to try to get him the ball? I think you're calling plays that you hope work and you got guys that are in position and whatever the defense dictates that's where the ball goes."
On if the offense is back to the full amount of plays: "I don't count them every week, but yeah. It's been a bigger deal I guess than I thought it would be. Some sections you cut down and some sections you might increase. A lot of it is how you're feeling. ‘Hey I think three steps is good this week,' that might be a bigger section. ‘Hey I don't want to do seven step this week,' you might shrink that. Each section kind of grows and shrinks each week but at this point I wouldn't say that's been a significant factor in anything."
On RB Theo Riddick not playing last Sunday: "Reggie (Bush) was playing, he looked good all week, so we were kind of excited to get him going because he was fresh. Like I said, when you go empty, it's either Reggie or Theo. If it's Reggie, it's not Theo and when you call certain plays, it's either Reggie, it's not Theo. And if it's Theo, it's not Reggie, if it's not Reggie, it's Theo. People talk about Ryan Broyles, who's a player we like, but it's Ryan, it's not Golden (Tate). So, we have a lot of talented players and every week there's going to be a talented player that doesn't get his fair share because there are only 70 plays in a game. We're going to use C.J. (Calvin Johnson) and we're going to use Golden, and then it fits in from there."
On if Bush is a better or more proven running back than Riddick: "I don't know. No like I said, they've got similar skill sets and so, Reggie had a great week of practice and when we put those plays in, it's kind of like, ‘Hey, this is Reggie or Theo,' as the flow of the game went. Joique (Bell) was getting a lot of carries because we were kind of running a lot of these two-back runs that are kind of Joique's thing. There weren't maybe as many of those, what we call ‘lightning-back' plays and Reggie got them."
On how Riddick handled Bush taking more plays: "Good, great."
On how the running game has developed: "Well, I just think consistency is always a thing in the run game. We had an important long run in the game and here's the good thing, the best thing about it is we didn't have as many negative plays. I think it was the first time all year that I didn't look once at that third and 11-plus section to call a play, which is good. Which is a big part of being successful is if you don't get behind the chains like that. So, keep getting positive plays, but more efficient plays. Four, five-yarders, more consistently."
On if the team is more ahead in the passing game against zone-coverage than man-coverage: "I don't know. I'd like to think with Golden and C.J. that I'd love to see a bunch of man-to-man, so there's a lot of factors that go into an offense struggling or an offense doing well. Sometimes there's just a handful of plays that make the difference and so no, I would invite teams to put a single safety in the middle and try to cover our guys man-to-man. I think we'd be just fine."
On how Quarterbacks Coach Jim Bob Cooter has done with QB Matthew Stafford: "Excellent, he's hard on Matt, very demanding, doesn't let anything slide. I think that's the most important thing in a quarterback coach is not letting little details go, and he's been excellent at that."
On what he means by saying Cooter is hard on Stafford: "Listen, no quarterback is perfect and there are times where you're watching film and you go, ‘Hey, he knows this. I don't have to point it out or belabor the point.' Jim Bob never lets any of those things go. He's always pointing out everything that he needs to do better."
On the biggest impact Cooter has made to Stafford's game: "I don't know if I could pick one. They're tireless in the amount of footwork drills that they do. Listen, I think they did a good job coaching him here in the past so this is certainly not talking about anything that's happened here before. But, just the consistency and the routine in what they do. The way that we install the offense, how detailed he is, how he holds him to the details and just keeps reviewing so that by game time it's all second nature. So, I think that position is about having a routine and a thoroughness to what you're doing and every week kind of doing it the same way at the same time, watch your cut-ups kind of in the same order, ‘Here's what I do,' and you kind of have a checklist. So, he's gotten him in a really good routine."
On what one thing has helped pick up the offense the last couple weeks: "Listen, I wish it were one thing because it'd be easy to keep doing it. But, it's probably us coaching better, us game planning better, it's probably calling better plays, players blocking better, catching better and throwing better. It's an overall effort, you know? It's that whole thing about, at 211 degrees water does nothing and at 212 it boils. Little changes can make big differences and I think it's just been every position, every coach just doing a little bit better. It's just such a fine line between scoring nine points and scoring 28 points. It's that one first down that you might have got that kept a drive alive or it's the one third down conversion you had, or the one guy that caught it instead of dropping it. There's just so many factors that go into it, so I think it's just everybody doing a little bit better."
On what difference LB Chad Greenway makes for the Vikings defense and how the defense has improved since Week 6: "He's a really good player: instinctive, smart, he does a good job with their pressure packages as far as adjusting their defense based on what he sees the quarterback do before the play. They were playing pretty good back then but you can just see them more comfortable in the system: disguising some of their looks a little bit better, they've got a tremendous pass rush and they've got good outside rushers, good inside rushers and they've got a pressure package that's really different to protect against. They've got three really good pitches that are hard to hit. It's a challenge, they're playing well."
On if there's a sense of urgency to have a consistent running game this time of year: "Yea, no question. That's what I was alluding to, just being more efficient, being able to call runs and having more second-and-sixes, second-and-fives, which I think we're moving in that direction. I think we're getting better and I think someone said it here and it's true, when you get into these cold weather games, it's going to be important to have that."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TERYL AUSTIN QUOTE SHEET
On what he has seen from Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater that's different from the last time they played: "I think he's recognizing defenses sooner. He's getting the ball out of his hands faster. He's getting into the right play more often, so you see that. That's a natural progression for young guys. They start to see the game a little slower and they start to get the offense in the right plays. He's making some accurate throws."
On why the defense has been so successful in stopping the run without DT Nick Fairley: "I think our guys play really hard. We do a good job of tackling and doing those things. I think we had a nice rotation even when Nick was healthy so those guys have played and so most of them just had to increase their snaps a few. I think we just kept doing what we were doing and been pretty successful. Obviously some teams just haven't tried to run the ball very much on us and that always helps."
On his reaction to DT Ndamukong Suh missing practice: "That he gets well by Sunday."
On how much of the run defense is schematic as opposed to players just executing at a really high level: "I think it's a little bit of both. You have to give them a scheme where they can get in the right positions and then it's on them to finish and make the plays. We've had a nice combination of that this year."
On why CB Cassius Vaughn has played well as of late: "I think part of it is this is really the first year he's really played nickel. There's a learning curve in there and it happens a little bit faster. It's like taking maybe a guy that's an outside linebacker and all of a sudden you put him in the middle. There are a lot of different things going on. The angles are different, the reads are different, the routes are different, so I think as he's gotten to see those a little bit more he's becoming a little more comfortable in there and understanding what is happening to him a little bit faster. Consequently he's played a little better."
On the importance of tackling as a nickelback: "You got to have it. He's kind of a linebacker cover guy because they spread you out when they run the ball. He's got to tackle when they put the guy in the slot. Give him a little space, he's got to make the tackle because usually the next guy he sees is either the corner on his way out or the linebacker that's probably a little further inside, or possibly the safety behind him. There's a little space in there he has to deal with so he's got to be a good tackler."
On if there is always a ‘two way go' a nickelback has to worry about: "We try to, based on our coverage's funnel a guy one way or the other, where we think the help might be. We try not to give him the two way go but sometimes it happens."
On how willing of a tackler CB Cassius Vaughn is: "He's a willing tackler. He's not a killer, but that doesn't mean he's not a willing tackler, and there's a big difference. We've all been around or have seen guys that just don't like to tackle, they'll tackle if they have to, but he's a willing tackler. And so, that means he'll go in there, he'll try and he'll do his best to get the guy down, and that's really what we want. We want willing tacklers, everybody doesn't have to be a striker or a knock you back on your back guy. But as long as he'll go after it, put his nose in there and try to tackle, we're okay with it."
On if Vaughn doesn't make a lot of ‘business decisions': "Yeah, that's right."
On who the ‘killer tacklers' are on this team: "I think we have a few. You see Dig (James Ihedigbo), you see Glover (Quin), you see (Ndamukong) Suh, you see DeAndre (Levy). You see those guys that'll go in there and they could care less, they just want to hit that guy real hard. A lot of that is genetics, some guys, mom and dad were good, they were good to them."
On the importance of rotating LB Josh Bynes onto the field and what he adds to the defense: "Well, I think what he adds is, Josh is really smart. I think it allows Tahir (Whitehead) if there's ever anything, because his first year in the middle, they're able to see the game and it's almost like a backup point guard going in and doing his thing, and you don't lose a step. I think both of those guys have performed really well for us. Josh is a physical guy, he's got good ball skills, he's got good instincts and so that helps. He's played middle linebacker a lot longer than Tahir has, and so they kind of help each other out and they feed off of each other. So, when Josh comes out or when Tahir comes out, I'm sure he talks to Tahir, ‘Hey, this is what I kind of see,' and when he goes in there, they talk amongst each other. So, I think it's good and Josh helps us. He keeps the snaps off of Tahir."
On if there's a certain attitude he's encouraged or that he's seen the defense take on: "I think what we've encouraged right from the beginning was, we just want to be our best, play our best, all of the time. We want to get better as the season goes on, and I think what happened is, those guys they feel, we're really good and for them, if they want to say, ‘Hey, we're the No. 1 defense,' that means we should play like it. We should play like we're the best. So, I think that's probably where some of that comes off on the sideline. ‘Hey, listen guys, we're good. Let's play like we're good, let's not have letdowns, let's not have long drives.' They want to be the best and compete all of the time. That's something when they have that competitive spirit. That's hard to get throughout your defense like that, and our guys have it."
On if the competitive spirit is something he makes a point to encourage: "I think we try to set the standard of, ‘Hey, this is what we want.' But it's really the guys that have taken it and run with it."
On if having two hard-hitting safeties gives comfort to the rest of the defense: "Absolutely. I think defensive football is about tackling. You can scheme it up, you can do all the stuff you want but the bottom line is that you have to get off a block and you have to tackle. If you don't tackle then it doesn't matter what you do schematically, doesn't matter how pretty you look or how fast you run. They take pride in it and I think the guys up front understand that we don't have a defensive backfield that is just concerned about stats and interceptions. They're going to tackle, they're going to do their part in the run defense and I think that's great for all of them."
On if he needs to stay on top of the team more after a dominant performance against the Vikings in Week 6: "No, because I think our guys know that every game is independent. It's got a life of its own. We know if we don't go out and prepare well this week, study hard in the classroom, practice well and then play well on Sunday, we can get beat. So I don't think what happened the first game has any bearing on the second game. I think our guys will come out with the right mindset and be ready to play, that stuff won't matter very much."
On why he believes WR Charles Johnson has had success recently: "Well, you watch him and he plays hard, he's a good route runner, he's able to sell guys on a comeback, you watch him and the comeback and stutter-go look about the same and that's hard when a defensive back's out there. That's how he got the guy from the Jets last week. He blocks, he runs crossers, he catches the ball when it's there, so I think as a quarterback and receiver he's probably getting more play and getting more throws because the quarterback trusts him because he's doing all the right things. That's why he's doing well."
On if he expects Bridgewater's mobility to be more of a factor in this contest: "It could, I'm hoping we're getting after him pretty good and he has to run somewhere. Hopefully he'll run right into our guys, but he still can move around. You can see it, he's really made some guys miss and kept the chains moving the last few weeks. So, we'll have to do a great job rushing and be disciplined in our rush lanes and make sure we have those things down so he doesn't get out."
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