LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET
On what the team does best offensively: "I think some of our play-action. We've been running the ball a little bit better lately. I think every game, it may change from game to game depending on what the defense is giving you. If you're playing a team like a soft zone team, it might be more quick game. Then if teams are playing a lot of tight man to man, you're probably going to have to hold the ball a little bit longer. But hopefully your run game can always be consistent."
On if the running game is the main key to this game: "I think it's always an important part of your game plan. Sometimes you want to establish the run early and get some body shots on the defense. Other times you may be a little more pass-heavy early and then hope that you can get the run game going later in the second half or so. But yeah, at some point you're going to need it."
On who Dallas compares to schematically from the teams they've played this season: "I hate to compare them. They're a team that's very well-coached and they play really hard. You look at the roster and it's easy to say, ‘Well, you know, DeMarcus Ware's gone.' But there are 11 solid football players. The thing that stands out to you is how they really know what they're doing and they do it well. I think when you're facing a team that executes as well as they do then you've got to match it and not have some of the execution breakdowns maybe that we had against Green Bay. So, it's going to have to be a game that we play well."
On how the Cowboys defense has rallied after losing DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee: "Well, I think everyone that knows Rod Marinelli has a ton of respect for him. So, I think he's been doing a great job. Like I said, you see the players I think have really bought in and they're just doing all the things right. You know, they fit the runs just like they're supposed to and they're smart with their leverage in pass defense. I think they're just a team that knows their strengths and weaknesses and plays really well to them."
On if the Cowboys run similar coverages to what they ran last season: "Yeah, you'd probably say that their number one coverage is a Cover 3 Zone, but it's still corners out there, single-high safety stuff. They just, like I said, they know where their safety help is coming, where the safety's leaning, they know where the underneath coverage is. So, they just do a real good job overlapping and playing to teams' tendencies. They're not a complicated defense, but I think there's a lot of nuances and details to each coverage that they're running based on the opponent that they're facing."
On the Cowboys defense without DT Henry Melton: "I don't know if it's going to change a ton. When you lose a guy that's as active as he is, maybe they'll be tempted to bring a few more pressures. But I think that, you know, a guy like Rod Marinelli kind of believes in what he does. The tendencies might change a little bit, but I don't think you're going to see anything new."
On Cowboys S Barry Church's comments regarding WR Golden Tate: "Listen, this is a rough physical game and it may even ratchet up a little bit in the playoffs. I don't think they're going to try any harder because they're mad at Golden. They're going to play their hardest and hit their hardest and I think people do that every week."
On Tate's blocking ability: "Yeah, I'd say he's a good blocker. A lot of times we have run plays where, hey if we don't like the look, we're spitting it out to Golden on a quick slant or something of that nature. So, we kind of maybe don't ask him to be at the point as much as some other guys, but he does a good job when he's there."
On the recent success of the running game: "I think part of it is we kind of switched up the way we practice a little bit and added kind of a run period in walk-through where we get about 30 reps real quick on the ball with just our own offensive players kind of playing defense. So, we added that period to just kind of iron out some of the details maybe that we were missing. Just give the guys a bunch of looks so that they're a little bit more tuned in on what we're asking from them."
On shortening the receiving rotation this week: "We do take those guys off the field (WR Calvin Johnson and WR Golden Tate) occasionally. I mean, sometimes you're looking to draw a certain defense based on one-receiver sets. Then also, you want to make sure that those guys are ready to go when you really need them, you know? I know there are times in the past where maybe C.J.'s been running, running, running and all of a sudden he comes off the field and you kind of miss that he's coming off and you're going to call that play where you really need him on the field. So, you kind of try to schedule in some breaks sometimes just to make sure that when you're calling that play you need him on he's out there."
On G Larry Warford's contribution to the run game success: "Listen, I think that he's been playing the last two games, he's been playing as well as he has all year. I mean, really remarkably improved. He's been playing good all year, but these last few weeks you just look at him and say, ‘Wow, look at that.' He's been dominant, so I think we'll miss him. But you're comfortable with Travis (Swanson). He's been in there a number of games now, as most of our backup offensive linemen have done, so you're confident in him. But Larry's been playing great."
On what QB Matthew Stafford has to do to make that next step into postseason success: "I mean, obviously we're all judged by that. Listen, he's got us to the playoffs. I think a lot of that has been playing smart. I mean, he's cut down on his turnovers and that's key. I know Coach Caldwell put up a graphic of postseason quarterbacks and you just see the turnover ratio's exceptionally low on all of those guys. So, that's always the number one key. We always say the two most important things is be available, right? Be available to play, and then two, keep bad things from happening. So, he's been doing a good job of that. We've got to go out there and make plays as well, so it's just being smart and playing well."
On what he can draw from coaching Saints QB Drew Brees to help Stafford in the postseason: "I think you don't want to make the game bigger than what it is. It's that old ‘Hoosiers' clip where the coach goes out and measures the basket and then just go do what you've been doing well your whole life and don't get caught up in all the hype."
On when Caldwell put that slide up: "At some point this week as we entered the playoffs. I think Drew (Brees) had eight or nine touchdowns in 2009, zero interceptions. There was a number of other quarterbacks that had 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. All the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, the majority of them were, the touchdown to interception ratio was really good."
On how Stafford has played this season: "Listen, we're 11-5 so we're pleased with that. We're just going to keep getting better."
On what he tells the team about what it will take to win in the postseason: "I think the things that Coach Caldwell highlighted is running the ball, run defense, those things have carried through to the postseason, the turnovers. But, I don't think there's anything different that helps you win a playoff game than a regular season game. It's just executing, limiting mistakes and making the plays when they're there. There's certainly a mentality, a mindset that winning teams have that has to carry on to the playoffs. Our thing is always, we've had a routine through the whole season that's got us to where we are, you don't change that routine. You keep chopping wood and doing the same things that have helped you be successful before. You don't change it just because it's the playoffs or the super bowl or a game that's considered bigger. It's still 60 minutes and you have to go out and play better than the team you're playing."
LIONS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TERYL AUSTIN QUOTE SHEET
On if it was good to see DT Nick Fairley on the field: "Absolutely. He looked good."
On what kind of charge does the rest of the defense gets from seeing Fairley on the field: "I think it's good, you know, you get one of your better players out there, and guys know he can help us win. We'll see how far he comes along this week and shoot, maybe a miracle happens."
On how much rust Fairley has to shake off: "We won't see until he gets into a little bit more but he's got some rust, I mean anybody would. He'll work through it and I think as athletic as he is and the type of player that he is, if we can get him on the field, and he can help us we'll get him out there."
On if it is worth it to use Fairley in a limited role: "Well, the difference with Nick is that in five to seven plays he can actually make some game changing plays. That would be something we weigh when we get a little closer to Sunday."
On Fairley's fitness level: "He looks pretty good so we'll see. Again it's a little different running around doing our drills and individual at this time of year than it is in the game, so we'll test it. From what I hear from the weight coaches and the things he's doing his fitness level is okay. It's not great, it's not game fitness level, but it's good enough."
On what Fairley has to do to get to game fitness level: "We just have to see him in practice and then what we'll do is, if he's able to play then we'll have to figure out, ‘Hey how many plays can he play?' Like anybody, if he just came back and we tried to play him 40 plays that probably wouldn't work very well. If he's available to us we'll put a pitch count on him and we'll go from there."
On if he believes in miracles: "Absolutely."
On how effective could Fairley be in the 280-290 pound range: "For him, he's okay. He's so explosive, he's got such a quick first step, and you could really see that today just going through individual drills and doing some stuff. We all know Nick is a heck of a talent so we'll see where we are at the end of the week."
On how much emphasis is placed on the defensive line beating out the Cowboys offensive line this week: "It's the one we go into every week thinking that we have to win. As we saw last week we didn't do a great job of stopping the run and consequently we didn't play as well as we could have. Credit to them, they did a heck of a job, so this week we have to play better. Everything starts with our front seven, starts with the guys up front, our linebackers, and you know which ever safety we happen to have down. We have to do a great job up front. They are outstanding across the board, really good line, tight ends block, running back obviously, he's the best in the league this year for a reason. We got our work cut out for us and I would think we'll play a little better than we did last week."
On what makes the Cowboys offensive line so good: "They're all high draft picks. They really work well together. They're big, they're tough, they're athletic, they really understand the scheme, and they do a great job of getting bodies on people and creating holes. They work really well together, but they are, they're talented, really talented group."
On if this is the biggest challenge the defensive front has faced all year: "Yeah, because it's the next one. It sure is."
On what it's like to be considered for head coaching jobs: "As I said before it's flattering but my focus and all my concern is with the group of guys here and team here trying to get a win Sunday."
On if he plans to take any interviews next week: "We'll cross that when it comes. I think I would sit down and talk to Jim (Caldwell) about that when the time is right."
On some advice Caldwell has given him about this process: "Well, I think the overriding theme is, I think because he's been through it and especially at this time of year, ‘Hey when might be the best time?' if you are going to interview, when would be the best time to interview and some things. They're probably important in an interview session that I might make sure I take a look at. Something as an assistant coach I may not think of, so just a few things like that. Nothing Earth shattering but some words of wisdom because he's been through it a few times."
On what steers his decision on whether or not he will interview: "I think a lot of it would have to do with the way I think the brackets are set up. If we win we would play on Saturday next week and it'd be a short week. So, a lot of it would have to do with if our team, here, is ready. If I think I need the time to get our team ready here, then I won't interview. But if I feel like I've got our team and everything we have in here so that we can go play a quality game, then I would."
On if he would take both interviews: "I would probably get as many as I could."
On who else has requested to interview him: "So far it's been Atlanta and San Francisco."
On Dallas being good at both the run and the pass: "Like any game we go into, we want to make them one-dimensional. If we can stop them from running the ball and make them one-dimensional, then we think our chances go up because it takes away the play action and all those different things. It would be great if we could get them one-dimensional because I think that would work in our favor."
On how pleased he is that his team has been able to be focused after some recent distractions: "Pleased, we have a bunch of good guys. We have a lot of good guys, a lot of good character guys in the locker room. They all know what's the big picture. The big picture is, we all know it's not a one game season. Whatever happened that game, win, lose, draw or whatever it is, we have to move on to the next game. They did a great job of that and I think it has to do with a lot of the leadership that's developed in the locker room. ‘Hey listen guys, last week was last week. We had something we wanted to get done, we didn't. Whatever else happened, now we're moving on and we have an opportunity, new season, let's go.'"
On if he views this as strength versus strength regarding the defensive line and the Cowboys' offensive line: "Absolutely, but they have other good players. That receiver (Dez Bryant) is not bad. The quarterback (Tony Romo) is playing pretty well. They are, they're really strong up front and we'd like to think that that's probably the strength of our defense as well, our front seven. We think it's two good fronts going at it, we think it's going to be a heck of a battle. We're going to have to fight our tail off to have a chance to win."
On what allowed Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray to take the next step as a player this season: "I'm not sure because we didn't play them last year. I didn't have a chance to watch him. What I see is a quality running back. He's really decisive when he decides to make his cut. He runs downhill, he runs with great pad level, he's a physical runner. You'll see times that he's going to finish his runs, he's not going to step out of bounds or do anything like that. He's going to make some extra yards, he's going to make a guy miss. That's what I see. For us to be successful we have to make sure we clog up those lanes and we don't let him get that one cut and head downhill fast because if he does, he's going to be a handful."
On how Bryant compares to WR Calvin Johnson: "They're both special guys, they're big guys, long, can catch the ball anywhere. All you have to do is kind of get in the area code and they'll make the catch. Our guys see it every day and will get a chance to see it again Sunday on the other team. It's going to be a heck of a challenge."
On if he will stick to keeping his corners on the side that they have been all year: "We'll play the way we always play. We'll play left and right, we have confidence in both of those guys. When they have to cover him, they'll have to cover him. We can't kick the coverage to him every time because they run the ball so well. We'll try to mix it up, do what we do and see if we can do it better than they do and help our team win."
On how he reacts when he finds out he's being considered as a head coach: "First thing I do is call my wife and let her do all the jumping and yelling, then I get back to work."
A recap of Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin's comments from Thursday.
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE LOMBARDI QUOTE SHEET