The Detroit Lions have defied expectations in 2012 by starting terribly slow. After losing a pivotal early season game to the Minnesota Vikings, Jim Schwartz took to the podium to break down some of the biggest issues with his team heading into the bye week. He provided his opinions on the early bye week, the special teams breakdowns and how the team can pull themselves out of what looks to be a crippling early season crater.
How Can Your Experience Of Starting 1-4 With Tennessee In 2002 Help Now? "Every year you can come up with something. Last year the Giants lost four in a row. Last year, we lost three out of four. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, it's this team now. There's things we need to get corrected. If we do, we have a chance to do well. If not, we wont."
Is There Hope For Improvement? "There's things we all can correct. We've had four non-red zone scores. That's not us. We only have nine sacks thus far. We've given up four special teams scores. There's been a lot of things that have happened that are not indicative of where this team will be after 16 games. The only thing matters is this year."
On Starters Playing Special Teams Minutes: "There's only 46 guys on a roster. Everyone has a job to do and whatever it is, you have to accomplish it."
What Were The Biggest Issues With Special Teams Yesterday? "We had missed tackles. There were a couple guys out of position on the punt return for a touchdown, but on the kickoff, we had four missed tackles."
What Are The Reasons Behind A Lack Of Execution Early In The Season? "There's a physical part to it, but your opponent is getting paid too. It's a physical contest. When guys are in position as players they need to make a play, whether it's a catch or a tackle, whatever it is. We've had incidents of both in the first four games. It hasn't just been guys getting beat, there's been technique problems and mental mistakes. We'll certainly get better."
On What's Causing The Offensive Struggles: "I think you do need to have a mentality of being aggressive, but there's also a downside to that. Teams have been playing us very light. Since the beginning of the Rams' game, teams have been playing us to take away the big play. We need to drive down the field. When teams take that approach, (eliminating the big play) we need to be able to execute. We need to run better. We came off one of our most efficient run games with one of our least efficient games. It's not good enough, and we have to run the ball better. We have to make people pay for playing back and defending deep balls. That's one of the major areas we need to do better. Running effectively opens up the passing game."
Define What's An "Explosive" Run: "20 yards. It's a team game, offensive line, tight ends. Our best run of the day, we finished with a fumble. Those are the kind of runs that force a defense into respecting the run more."
Does The Offensive Line's Play Cripple The Running Game Most? "It falls on a lot of people. It falls on the running backs to make good cuts, it falls on tight ends and it falls on the offensive line also."
Are You Pleased With The Defensive Play? "The whole goal is to allow one less point than we have scored. We gave up six points on defense yesterday. We didn't allow an explosive play. They moved the ball with two pass interference penalties. I thought we gave up no explosive runs, only one explosive pass. We got off the field on third down, defended well and I thought that was positive for our defense. We can rush better. We limited Percy Harvin, but it's all hollow. if you give up one point or six and lose, theres nothing to be proud of."
The Comparison Between This Year's Team And Last Year's. Are These Guys Underachieving? "There's nothing harder than losing in professional sports, but it's not whether you're going to get hit with adversity; it's your ability to persevere through it. That's our biggest challenge. The teams that have succeeded are the ones who are able to correct their mistakes and persevere. The Giants persevered through it, corrected their mistakes and got on a roll. If we're tough minded and correct the mistakes we've made, we can dig ourself out of a hole."
On Problems With Consistency Across The Board: "There's a little bit of that. On special teams scores, its been a little bit of everything. We have had signs that we can move the ball with anyone in the league and score. We've been outscored 60-30 in the first half of games. Our ability to score affects our ability to rush the passer, which affects our ability to defend the pass. It all ties together, and its our responsibility to tie it up."
Is This Year's Draft A Bust, Considering There's Been Few Positive Early Contributions From The Class? "You're way too early to tell that. We have good players and, in time, they'll show that."
On Bill Bentley's Penalty Issues: "He's had three defensive pass interferences downfield. Some of those things he'll learn and put himself in better position. The others, he's been in good position and used poor technique. It's a big difference for a player from college where they allow contact downfield. Now, just because you're covered doesn't meant they wont throw the ball. You can chalk it up to being a rookie, but nobody's graded on a curve."
Cliff Avril Injury Update: "He wasn't able to finish the game, and it's a back issue."
What's The Message To The Team Heading Into The Early Bye Week? "It is what it is. The bye week is scheduled for week five. Today's a work day, tomorrow's a work day. Wednesday we'll practice. There's a lot we can accomplish."
Are The Lions Letting People Down And Failing To Justify Their Big Expectations Heading Into The Season? "I think the only time you'll be able to say that is after 16 games. You're judged on that. We didn't have the start we wanted. and there's time for us to dig ourselves out. I don't get real big into comparisons year by year. Our object is to be good this year."
What Can Fix The Lions' Issues? "Starting fast will help us. If we score early and don't allow scores in the first half, we'll be better. We have explosive players who can make plays, they just need to make them. We've fallen behind a lot of different ways. Each one is a little bit different."
Why Didn't You Go On Fourth And One Yesterday? "I think we were playing well on defense, we got the ball back. I think part of that is confidence in the offense that we can score late in games. we could have lost the game there but not won it."
Defenses Are Sitting Back, Content To Take Away Detroit's Big Passing Plays. How Can The Offense Remedy That? "It's our job to make people pay if they're going to play those kind of defenses. Against Tennessee, we did a good job of doing that despite a loss. We ran the ball effectively and rushed for a bunch of first downs. When teams try to play you one way or another, you have to do things to make them pay."
On If Playing With Angry Passion Is Needed: "This is an emotional game and you need to play with emotion. Nobody is OK with starting 1-3, that's not my message. My message is, we're through 1/4th of the season. Our job is to correct what led us to 1-3. We do need to play emotional. We do need to put a chip on our shoulder and things like that. Part of that is coming out early in the game and establishing ourselves, not having to come back late in games."
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