Lions' Conference Calls

Transcript of Matt Stafford's and Jim Schwartz's conference calls with Jets reporters on Wednesday morning"

LIONS QB MATT STAFFORD

On Calvin Johnson…

I don't know if there is a size and speed guy that's comparable to him in the league. He's 6'5" and a half 235 pounds or so. He can run and catch the ball great. He and I were on the same page last week and, hopefully, we can carry that into this week. He's just a mismatch for a lot of guys in this league.

On his development in his second season…

I feel good about it. I felt like I had a good training camp. Obviously, I've missed a fair amount of games already this year. I kind of tried to lead in a different way, when I wasn't playing. It's been good. I've felt good since I got back last week. It was good to get a win, and that always helps.

On overcoming his injuries…

You just try to put it behind you. I was out for five weeks, trying to learn as much as I could and stay in there, mentally, and get better physically. Once I did that, just trying to come out and have a good 10-game season. After our bye, that's how many we had left. We're going to go out there and see what we can do.

On his relationship with Mark Sanchez from the draft process…

I probably used to talk to him a little bit more. The season gets pretty busy. I see him, sometimes, in the offseason at events and things like that. It's good. I think he and I are friends.

On what he has seen studying film of the Jets defense…

They play a lot of man-coverage. That's kind of their deal. They man-up. They have good corners. Our team has good receivers. They try to at least stop the run and get after the pass. It's a little bit different than a lot of teams' approaches to our offense. It's going to be one of those deals, on Sunday, to see how they play us.

On if he has any concerns about facing a team that is coming off a loss…

I don't know. I think you treat every game the same. There an NFL football team. They're going to prepare to win. Sometimes they're going to play their best and sometimes they're not. They still had a chance to win that game last week. It wasn't like they got blown out. They've got to fix some things like we've got to fix some things. Everybody has to fix some things every week. It's on the team to go out and prove it on Sunday.

On why quarterbacks tend to slump in their second season…

I don't know. I've just been trying to put good games and good practices on top of each other and keep building. That's been my philosophy on it and I feel like it's working so far. I've got to keep doing it, of course. I think one of things that benefited me coming from year one to year two is the organization did a great job of putting weapons around me and going out there and getting guys like Nate Burleson, [Tony] Scheffler, Jahvid Best, guys that take pressure of the quarterback where you can just get them the ball and let them do their thing.

On if there would have been more pressure on him if he and not Mark Sanchez were playing in New York…

I don't know. I can't speak on that because I'm not in New York and he's not in Detroit. They're different situations. Every NFL quarterback has similarities in what they deal with and differences also with where they're playing. It's kind of tough to speak on.

On what the home crowd is like in Detroit…

They're great. When we get Ford Field going, it's pretty awesome. Hopefully, they'll come out for this game and we can play well enough to get them cheering.

On if feels the Lions are underrated…

I don't know. We don't really pay too much attention to what other people have to say about us. We know how close we've been in certain games this year and then we know that there were other times we needed to play better to win. We know we're playing a good team and we have to play well.

LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ

On if there is a positive vibe and momentum surrounding the Lions following the win over the Redskins and having Matt Stafford back…

I think that dynamic is there for us. We're seeing a lot of teams lose players as the season goes on. We're close to the midpoint of the season. We're seeing a lot of guys go on IR and things like that. Our injuries occurred early in the season and just about all of them, we were going to get back at some point.

Coming off the bye week, we were as healthy as we've been even before the first game, including our quarterback. Up until last week, the Redskins game, our third-string quarterback had played more than our first-string quarterback and we had played five different middle linebackers. So getting those players back gave the players a little bit of a boost. That combined with a win, combined with playing some close games, you don't want to take any solace in that, but I think there is definitely a good feeling anytime you're getting your quarterback back.

On what the Lions saw from Stafford that made them select him No. 1 overall in last year's draft…

We had a job description for what we wanted. We took our time with that. We didn't make up our mind beforehand that we had to have a quarterback. We had the first pick overall and we said, "Let's try to find the best player in the draft." We kept an open mind in the whole evaluation and when it was all said and done, we thought Matt Stafford was going to be the best choice for us. We did a lot of work on [Mark] Sanchez. We really liked him also, but with what we were going to do on offense and the different players that we had and the pieces we were trying to put together, we thought he was the best fit for us. That's why we chose him.

On if the team considered selecting Mark Sanchez…

Oh, yes. We considered everybody else in the draft. That's the thing, when you're picking number one, you don't have to worry about somebody jumping ahead of you. We considered literally everyone. We spent a lot of time with Mark in a lot of different ways. We probably sent about eight or nine people to his workout in Los Angeles. When he worked out, we spent a lot of time with him. He had an outstanding future ahead of him. In the final determination, we were happy with the pick that we made.

On Ndamukong Suh…

He's an interesting guy to say the least. A little bit the same way in the draft this year. Picking number two, we didn't say we're going to take the best defensive tackle in the draft or we're going to take the best, name another position, offensive tackle. We tried to objectively look at it and say, "Hey, who's the most talented player that's on the board right now?" For us, that was Ndamukong Suh. He had the skill set that we thought translated very well to what we wanted to do on defense. We thought it was a good marriage between the job description of what we wanted and the player's talent.

There was an adjustment period for him. He played a lot of two-gap in college and we were asking him to attack more and to get up the field a little bit more. That was something that he hadn't been asked to do in college, but he's played at a very, very high level. He has good numbers even though that's not always the final determination of how you're playing.

The thing with Ndamukong is that every week he's gotten a little bit better and he's adapted very, very quickly, and great athletes usually do. It's easy for them to make the jump from high school to college. It's easier to make the jump from college to the NFL. A lot of his improvements you see it in an offseason from first year to second year. He's improved from week-to-week the way he plays blockers, the run game and also in the passing game. He just gets it. He's got a really good motor. He's really tough. He's [an] outstanding athlete. He's been very, very productive for us.

On what makes Suh tough to block…

He's got a good combination of a lot of things. He's not only incredibly strong, he's a very good athlete. He's explosive. He's very instinctive. He sees the football. He doesn't get tied up on blockers and he's a really hard worker. He's an outstanding worker. He's very serious about what he does. Almost to a fault, he's very serious about football. He's all business all the time. Those are the things that make him hard to block.

On what makes Calvin Johnson hard to defend and if he anticipates the Jets matching Darrelle Revis on him…

I don't know how they'll play. They've matched [Antonio] Cromartie up against taller receivers and Revis obviously is the guy that they want to be their shutdown corner. Calvin is a little different than a lot of receivers because he's combines, a little bit like we talked about Ndamukong Suh, he combines a lot of characteristics that usually you only find one of those characteristics with a player. Calvin can run super fast, but he's also 6'5", he's 230 pounds. He can vertical 44 inches. It's just freakishly talented when it comes to being able to do those things.

Even if he's covered, he's still open. He's that guy that can go up and take the ball away from a defender. He has the ability to play outside. Against the Redskins, what you saw is the Redskins tried their very best to take them away on the outside part of the field and Calvin did a really good job of working the inside part of the field. He'll go across the middle and he took some hits, but moved the chains for us and had three touchdowns. He got it a little different way than he got it in the first few weeks in the season, but he's still finding a way to be productive.

On if he worries about Stafford against the Jets' overload blitzes…

I probably worry about the young quarterback getting out of his car, stepping in the shower — everything he does. That's not just him, it's everybody on the team, but when you go out and play, you don't think about things like that. You respect your opponent and you do your best to prepare for an opponent during the week. We've faced good pass rushers just about every single week. Every single week it's a little different challenge. We've had Clay Matthews. We've had [Brian] Orakpo and [Albert] Haynesworth last week. The Jets are outstanding in their ability to put pressure on the quarterback, but we worry a little bit more about ourselves and how we're going to play and how we're going to attack, and don't so much worry about the opponent.

On where Stafford is in his development…

He's probably further along than any quarterback I've been around. I was a defensive coach most of my career, but I've been exposed to a lot of young quarterbacks that have come in and they've needed development. From the very first time that he came in in rookie minicamp, he had command over our offense. He's a natural leader. It's easy to see his arm strength and those kinds of things. He's had some setbacks with some injuries. He missed some time last year due to some injuries and obviously missed some games this year due to a shoulder injury.

As far as his command over not only what we do offensively but what the defense does, he's been outstanding. Last week, he came back against the Redskins and just didn't have real good timing early in that game, but he was able to hang with it and keep on pressing. He got hot in that second half, and that's a maturity factor that a lot of young quarterbacks don't have. Things weren't going his way early on. He missed a couple of throws. He never got down. He stayed resilient and usually that's something you see from a veteran player that has confidence and has a long track record of success. Matt has that same kind of confidence and he was able to sort of push through some rough spots early on to go and get hot and score 17 points on offense in the fourth quarter.

On their 2-1 record at home and how much they feed off the home crowd…

Our fans have been outstanding. Our franchise has struggled for a long time now. It hasn't discouraged our fans and that would have been understandable if they had been discouraged. Particularly the three games this year, the crowd has made a difference in the game for us. They've been loud. They've affected the opponent's offense. They've been into the game. We didn't sell out last week, but our crowd has been very, very enthusiastic.

We've had our struggles on the road. I think those have been well-documented and they go long before I was here, but the home crowd makes a difference. I'm sure the Jets feel the same way when they play in the New Meadowlands. You feel the crowd is behind you and any player is going to take a little bit of whatever can assist them in their play.

On if he is worried about the team's struggles in kickoff coverage last week…

Thanks for reminding me about that [joking]. We were poor last week. The thing that was discouraging is that we broke down the same way three different times. There's always going to be mistakes in games and we've made our fair share of mistakes so far this season. One of the things we take pride in is if you beat us on something, we'll come back and make the adjustment and not get beat on it again. That was discouraging in that game because it was more of our inability to defend the kickoff.

[Brandon] Banks had an outstanding game. It was a track meet on special teams, both on our end and their end, two teams that were outstanding cover teams coming into the game. I think Washington was first in the league coming into the game in kickoff coverage, and we were about third. Neither team did a very good job of defending those. We have to do a better job there. Our kickoff returner and punt returner has some explosive ability. We need to get him started on some returns, also.

On what a win against the Jets would do for his team…

Wins are hard to get in the NFL. It doesn't matter if they're against one of the better teams in the NFL or one of the not-better teams in the NFL. Every single one of them counts the same. We're not the BCS. There is no weighted average for wins. I think, just looking at our team, we've had a lot of, quote, moral victories. We've played on the road and had close games at Green Bay and had a third-string quarterback and still had a chance to win over at the Giants on the road.

There's nothing like a win to give you confidence. Last week, we didn't play our best. We were still able to win. I think there's some confidence that gets built from that, to play a team like the Jets that is going to challenge every phase of your game. They're going to challenge you in the run game, the pass game, they're going to rush the passer, they're going to stop the run, they're going to challenge your receivers, they're a good team on special teams. That's a great challenge. When you beat a team like that, you deserve the win, and I think that'll probably be the thing that our players take from it.

On the job Coach Ryan has done with the Jets…

I have a lot of respect for what he does. His teams all play with the same kind of temperament. It didn't matter if he was with Baltimore or with the Jets. They have a way that they play. It's impressive. There are a lot of teams that'll change from week to week and they'll say, "OK, hey, this week we need to do this," and they'll sort of morph from week to week.

The Jets sort of know what they are and they have confidence in that. They go out, it doesn't matter who they play, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, they play their way. There's definitely a lot of respect for that. To take the team last year, 9-7, get hot in the playoffs, be on the doorstep of the Super Bowl and come back this year and follow it up, I think that says a lot about his leadership and the way that team has been built.

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