LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET
On what adjustments the offense has to make to defend the Panthers pass rush: "First, I think we kind of trust the guy (Garrett Reynolds) that's stepping in. He was in training camp with us and it's a player we like, but you certainly have to be aware under even the best of conditions. This is a pass rush that causes you problems. We've got to be smart with how we're blocking these guys and the play calls that we're making."
On TE Brandon Pettigrew and his blocking ability: "It's invaluable. When we first got here and we were talking about Brandon, I was just looking at his abilities as a blocker. He's a good receiver too, but he is I think, one of the top blocking tight ends in the NFL. I'm really happy we have him."
On if the snap to release time is more important this week based on Carolina's pass rush: "I think it's something that we always emphasize, but yes, for sure. You always tell the quarterback, ‘Don't get caught hanging on to the ball too long and have a clock in your head.' We say it this week, but it seems every week that there's a good pass rush though. This is, being in that division the last seven years, it's one that I'm very familiar with and one that's caused us problems in the past in New Orleans. I'm confident that we can do a good job, but we've got to be smart."
On QB Matthew Stafford and his footwork: "He works his footwork every day. Jim Bob Cooter runs those drills and he does a great job. It was funny, the one he threw to Calvin, the second touchdown, I've seen that drill dozens of time already this training camp. It's something that he works on quite extensively."
On the footwork drill the quarterbacks practice: "Just kind of escaping, moving up to the pocket and rolling left. We usually don't have them throw across the field in that drill, but if players only did what they were coached to do, we wouldn't be very good. You saw that on Monday. Those guys did a lot of improvising that helped us a lot."
On Stafford's occasional sidearm throwing motion: "He gets a lot of grief about some of his delivery angles and I'm glad he's got them all."
On WR Calvin Johnson and his thoughts on being able to watch him up close: "It's amazing having that guy on your team. It's very comforting knowing the things he can do and how he can get you out of some troubles. Neither of those touchdowns was coaching. Those were players, not plays, as far as a scheme perspective."
On if it's different seeing Johnson at full-speed on his side: "We usually try to dissuade these guys from laying out like that in practice. So, those catches that he made, you knew he was capable of doing it, but it's not something we see every day. I was just kind of sitting there. Usually you're pretty intense during the game, and I was, but there was a point in that first quarter when he had caught his second touchdown and we were just kind of laughing on the sideline because you know you have nothing to do with it. It's just this great player making great plays. The two of them (Stafford and Johnson) together and the offensive line deserves credit. He (Stafford) was moving in the pocket, but the reason he was able to make those throws is because those offensive linemen were plastered on their men. So, he was able to find a safe spot to launch those passes and score touchdowns."
On the efficiency problems with the running game vs. New York: "They were bringing an extra guy down in the box, in a place we weren't really expecting them. There was sometimes where we didn't have a guy accounted for and that's a part of the running, though. You're given body shots and know that you have to stick with it, even though it might not look good early. There's an old football saying that says, ‘You pass to score and you run to win.' That's kind of what we did on Monday and it was really gratifying to see that thing come together in the fourth quarter. I think you've got to give Curtis Modkins, Jeremiah Washburn and Ron Prince a lot of credit on the sidelines. They were kind of looking at what was happening and we made a couple of adjustments and modifications that you really saw take effect in the fourth quarter and allowed us to have some success running it."
On if the team was trying to run the clock out towards the end of the game vs. New York: "Oh yeah. We said, ‘Hey, let's go take over this game.' I went to the offensive line and said, ‘Hey, we're going to put the ball in your hands now. Let's go do it.'
On T Corey Hilliard's health during the game vs. New York: "We were trying to be conscious of giving him some help, but sometimes you get caught in the hash. I'll be honest, we were calling plays and I'll get choked up talking about it. What he did was really outstanding."
On T Cornelius Lucas and if he's stepping into the right tackle spot: "We've got a couple of guys there. We've got Lucas, who we like a lot and Grizz (Garrett Reynolds) is coming in. Both of those guys are kind of working reps in practices and they're both going to be ready to go."
On how rewarding the 12-play drive the team had was in the fourth quarter vs. New York: "It was great. You took time off the clock and iced the game right there. Even me, when I'm watching a game as a fan and you get up a couple of scores, you're like, ‘Hey, this game is in the bag.' You sure don't feel like that when you're coaching, so to be able to do that and put that drive together and convert some third downs, it just showed that this team has some character. It was gratifying."
On the development of Lucas: "He's a young player that's got a lot of length, meaning long arms. He can stretch those arms out there and pass block really well. His run blocking has been coming along. We think he's going to be a really good player. Obviously, you don't ever know for sure until you see the live bullets, but we're excited about the player."
On how much seeing Carolina twice a year when he was with New Orleans helped him with his game plan: "It gives you a head start, which was good on a short week. You still have to put in a lot of work because it's some of the same scheme, but there are some new players over there in the secondary that you have to evaluate. Certainly our offense is a whole different offense, personnel-wise and certainly even some of the schemes. It gives you a head start, but you can't just say, ‘Hey, here's the play we're going to go run.' You still have to put in the work, but it was helpful."
On what was most pleasing about Stafford's performance vs. New York: "Taking care of the football. There were no turnovers. He got rid of the ball quickly. I'm not sure if the sack got taken away. There was one sack, but it was really a run that he just ate because he realized we had run into a bad look. No sacks, no turnovers. Other than be available, the second most important thing for a quarterback to do is make sure nothing bad happens. He made sure nothing bad happened in that game."
On how his first game as an NFL play-caller went and if he was anxious: "Yeah, the whole time. Both of those touchdowns, you call a play and you've kind of got a vision of how it's supposed to work, and neither of them the defense we were seeing was the ideal look for it. Those guys just went and made plays. You never want to lose sight of that as a coach. Those guys kind of took over the game in certain moments. If you weren't doing the best job, they made it right. It's comforting as a play caller to have good players."
On not looking nervous on the sidelines: "Hopefully, I was. Certainly, you get nerved up and revved up. I was excited more than nervous, but when things were going well for a stretch there, it was fun. Then, we lulled a little bit in the second quarter and got back on track in the second half. It's three hours of pretty intense feelings."
On Stafford and TE Eric Ebron still building chemistry: "Eric is still a young player. You could see on both of those plays, you could see how well he runs. He runs really good routes. Those things will come. He'll make his plays, you've just got to wait for him to come to you sometimes. This offense is going to run through Calvin and Golden (Tate) is going to get his touches. I'm not used to just two receivers catching it. In New Orleans you'd usually come out of there with four or five receivers catching a few balls. I don't think you can be too conscious of that. You have to let the game dictate who's getting the ball."
On having zero drops vs. New York and how putting in extra catches in practice helped: "I think it paid off well. Coach Caldwell always talks about how there's a formula. You work hard, you do the right things and good things will happen. Those guys have been very contentious and that's why we practice, to get better at things."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TERYL AUSTIN QUOTE SHEET
On the power running game of the Carolina Panthers: "Well they do a lot of things in the run game throw different backs at so you have fresh guys, power guys that can run through arm tackles. So, we just have to do a great job of maintaining our gap discipline and tackling. We got to run to the ball and make sure that there's not just one guy just trying to take this back down, there's got to be more than one person there at the point of attack."
On containing Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton: "That's always a challenge, a guy that can extend the play in the run and pass. So we'll just do our best to try and keep him hemmed up try to make him run into other people try to force him back into your help and that'll be something that we'll try and work on this week."
On Newton as a runner: "That's always a challenge when you're dealing with a running quarterback because basically what it does is it screws up your count in the run game and you'll have to make sure you have an extra guy to account for it somehow someway within the scheme. They do a good job with the scheme runs, so we have to do a better job of trying to make sure we have our guys in the right place to account for that extra gap that he creates."
On the play of CB Darius Slay: "What I like is he was doing the same things he was doing in the preseason which were, challenging receivers, providing tight coverage and not being afraid of trying to get after it and make a play. The thing we wanted to do is make sure that continued into the season."
On the play of CB Rashean Mathis: "He played great. Solid, true veteran understands this game and I thought he played a really solid game."
On the play of CB Nevin Lawson: "We weren't planning on him playing a whole bunch. You feel awful for Bill Bentley because he worked so hard and he was making a lot of improvement. Nevin went in there and the thing we talk to our guys about is you're always one play away and I think that's a testament to what Tony (Oden) and Alan (Williams) do in the back end teaching those guys that a young guy that wasn't supposed to play, or people may have thought he wasn't ready to play, went in there and played well. They did a great job with him and he's a competitive guy. I mean, he's one competitive guy trying to learn as much as he can as fast as he can and he competes hard and competes well, so that'll give him a chance. He might not always do it as pretty as some of the vets but he'll figure out a way to get it done."
On if Lawson is the nickel back moving forward: "We'll see how that works out."
On if another CB is a need: "The thing I've learned is you can never have enough corners in this league but like I said before, the guy we have on the roster there the guys that we feel comfortable with. They know our system, they know what we're doing and like anything if we can upgrade, if there's a chance to upgrade, we'll upgrade. If not, we trust the guy we have here."
On how long it takes a corner to pick up the defensive system: "Everybody's different."
On how DT Ndamukong Suh will respond to Cam Newton's comments: "I don't think he'll respond because it means nothing to us. We worry about us, we don't worry about what they say."
On if negative comments fire up the team: "I would hope not. I hope you're more motivated just to get out there and win every week and nothing makes you more motivated than the next game. Every game should be the same. You want to go out and give your best effort, give your best showing every game so you can win. What somebody says about you shouldn't make you play better or want to play better that should always be inside of you."
On using three linebackers more against the Carolina Panthers: "I would think so. I don't think they're going to be 11 personnel like we saw last week. We'll have an opportunity for our linebackers to play this week and play a lot."
On if Tahir Whitehead's athleticism helps when facing a QB like Cam Newton: "I think it does when the play breaks down, but more than anything our guys have to be assignment sound, and it doesn't matter how athletic you are. If you don't know where you're supposed to be then the guy is going to run right by you anyway."
On simulating Newton's skill set in practice: "You don't."
On DT Nick Fairley's performance: "Again, I thought upfront, not just Nick, but upfront we played really well. Our guys played hard, they were disruptive, they made things difficult both in the run and the pass. Specifically about Nick, yes that carried over and the key is for all of us is to continue to do that. We want to be better this week than we were last week and whatever that is that's what we're striving to be."
On if playing in the Giants game helped CB Nevin Lawson: "I think the game action period helped him. You're talking about a guy and I think he said the biggest crowd he had at Utah St. was about 30,000 and he comes into a NFL stadium his very first game and all of a sudden he's thrust into action, and I thought he handled it really well. So I think it was just the live game. It wasn't who he went against, it's just the fact that he was playing meaningful football will help him more than anything moving forward."
On CB's coming from college adjusting to the NFL's style of play: "With the young guys we're always working on that because in the preseason we had way too many (penalties) and the first half of this game we had too many penalties. We got it cleaned up in the second half we didn't have any. We'll just continue to work in practice, make an emphasis of it and hopefully we'll continue to be good in that area."
On what impressed him about SS Isa Abdul-Quddus: "He did a heck of a job, played really fast physical, did all the things he had been doing during the preseason that helped him earn a roster spot. So when Dig (SS James Ihedigbo) wasn't able to go he stepped right in and we didn't miss a beat, and that's really a testament to how he works and how he prepares and how the guys in the room got him prepared."
On the Carolina Panthers' new starters on the offensive line: "They're new starters but they're good, they're well coached, they're physical so we're going to have our work cut out for us. It's just like our offensive line, you know, our offensive line is going to be tough and good because they go against a good front every day. They're the same way. We know we're going to have our work cut out for us, but we're going to go in there and battle."
On LB DeAndre Levy's performance Monday night: "That's just what we saw on film last year. He did an outstanding job last year and he picked right up where he left off. Really all over the place. The guys got a great knack and feel for getting around the ball and he makes a lot of great plays. We hope that he continues and has another outstanding year, but he was just kind of what we thought. "
On if Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin looked like a rookie: "No, ask those corners. He didn't. He did a heck of a job, he's a big body, comes in and can catch it nice. On the touchdown grab, he catches it over the guys back. He's really a big man, almost in a tight ends body, but playing receiver and that's a difficult matchup at times for corners."
On his confidence in CB Darius Slay to cover big receivers after last year's struggles: "I don't remember that. We're talking about this season, he's pretty good right now."
On if it's difficult to prepare for Benjamin: "I think the thing you do is study how he's run routes in the preseason, see what you can pick up from those in terms of tendencies for him. I think the big thing you'll see if he catches the ball like he did last week they'll put them in position to try to make more plays. We just have to be aware of where he is."
On calling plays in the NFL for the first time: "I think it's kind of like we tell our guys. If you prepare well and do your work the game shouldn't be any different than practice and it shouldn't be that difficult. You want it to simulate it so that when you get into a game it's not that bad, you don't feel overwhelmed, you don't feel flustered and I try to do the same thing we preach to our players. So I tried to make sure we crafted a game plan that I was comfortable calling that didn't get me out of sorts and that's what it was and the guys did a great job of executing."
On self-evaluating: "We always do. We're always looking to see if we have a tendency of calling certain things at certain times and that's throughout the League, and we just do our due-diligence that way and try to make sure we don't give the other team a lot of tendencies."
On the value of DE George Johnson and DE Ezekiel Ansah: "When you have athletic defensive ends that helps, they can put some pressure and rush the passer. Ziggy had a phenomenal play last week and it wasn't a sack. The guy tried to cut him he jumps over him and then he gets to the quarterback and hurries Eli (Manning). Those things we can say we teach it but we don't, but those type of guys help you with an athletic quarterback. You know, pressure so you're not afraid to rush because you're afraid if he escapes that you'll never be able to catch him. We don't feel that way we feel we have good enough defensive ends that can get after it and rush. George's progress has been outstanding. The nice thing is he's continued to do what he did in preseason, OTA's and continued to carry it on and we just hope he gets a little bit better this week."