Jim Schwartz's Detroit Lions enjoyed their most consistent game of the season, battering the putrid Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday afternoon with an overwhelming rushing attack and a swarming, sticky defense en-route to a 31-14 thumping. The win was the Lions' second in a row, leading some to casually believe the team finally has positive momentum in an up and down season.
Schwartz, however, quickly put that notion to bed in today's press conference. He said that despite two solid wins with plenty of positives, the Lions must now focus on the next game against the Minnesota Vikings first and foremost. Also, the coach discussed the running game, lauded Joique Bell's great play, praised contributions of the defense and analyzed how rookies have quietly stepped up.
How Efficient Was The Running Game Against Jacksonville In Your Eyes? "Efficiency has to do with yards to go. I don't want to say it's complicated, but we were close to 60% efficient yesterday. Even though they were lost yardage runs, our last two runs were even efficient, because they did good to keep the clock moving. We got good contributions in the run game from Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. A good efficiency is whatever it takes to win the game. We don't go in thinking we need to run for this many yards or pass for this many yards. I think you look at it that way."
How Is Calvin Johnson Feeling After Yesterday's Big Effort? "Calvin's no worse for wear. He toughed it out and made a big contribution in the game, obviously."
Any Lingering Concerns With Johnson's Injury? "I think that's life in the NFL. There's going to be a lot of things to deal with. The things that he's had eventually will be put to bed. The only thing is, you can't predict what else is coming up next. Every player has to deal with injuries, and Calvin is no different than one of these other guys."
On Riley Reiff's Positive Impact On The Offensive Line: "He's given our run game an incredible boost and our offensive line's attitude has done that as well. I think we've seen our most consistent run game since I've been here and Riley has contributed to that because he's a great player. He's a great edge blocker, and also a great pass blocker. He's played at a high level from the beginning, and he's now doing more for us."
The Lions' Longest Run Of The Year Is 12 Yards. Any Concern With The Lack Of Explosive Plays? "We always want to get explosive plays. There's a high correlation between scoring and explosive plays. We've seen people playing off trying to limit the big plays. I thought we had the possibility for one yesterday, and Joique (Bell) lost his feet, but we rushed for over 150 yards, had 35 minutes of ball control and rushed for four touchdowns. I think that overrides everything else."
The Defensive Line Didn't Make Their Usually Loud Impact Yesterday With Only One Sack. Did They Play Poorly? "I thought those guys played well. They (Jacksonville) were throwing the ball quick. We didn't get to the quarterback because they were throwing it quick. I thought we were around the quarterback, but they tried to avoid the sacks, and as we've talked about, if you want to avoid sacks, there's ways to do it. When they did try to take some shots down the field, we got interceptions. We're not judged on the stat sheet, and I thought our defensive line played well."
What Did The Defense Do So Well To Limit Jacksonville's Offense? "I thought Erik Coleman and the secondary played well for us in this game. Our whole defense tackled well. We only had two missed tackles in this game. I thought that had a big role in limiting the effectiveness of the Jaguars yesterday.
Analyze The Play Of Your Linebackers: "They can still play better for us, but they played extremely well for us yesterday. Stephen Tulloch played well. Ashlee Palmer has played well when (DeAndre) Levy has been out. He's stepped up and did a nice job, too."
Yesterday, We Saw A More Complete Game Out Of The Lions. Was That Better Than Having To Make A Comeback? "There is something to being battle tested and coming back; there is some confidence to gain from that. You'd like to win 'em all nice and easy, but it doesn't always happen. It counts the same. You wear 'em all the same, and you are what your record says you are. There is something to teams playing close games and being comfortable coming from behind. We've proven we can make some stops on defense and come back offensively. You'd rather it be like this game, where you're consistent, but that doesn't always happen in the NFL."
Are You Watching/Considering The Playoff Picture Yet? "When you get late in the season, then you start paying attention more. The only thing you can do is focus on the next game. It's an NFC North game, a road game, and it's important to start the second half good. We're not trying to prove anything else other than we can go out and get a win. We're not defined by the first four games of the year any more than we're defined by the last four or last two. It's a 16 game season."
Now, Is There Some Momentum For The Season With Two Straight Wins? "Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher. In the NFL, momentum is how you play on Sunday. We didn't play well to start the year, but we were able to play well to get it back to 4-4. Whether we're trending up or trending down, we have to play the next game."
Talk About The Importance Of Divisional Games, Especially This Weekend's: "I always think that's important, it becomes more important because a win for you puts a loss on them in the division. The way they (Minnesota) started the season, they put themselves in the picture. We can't worry about that, we have to just worry about this game."
How Is The Injured Amari Spievey (Concussion) Doing? "We're still waiting for clearance on him and we haven't gotten it yet. He didn't travel with the team."
What Has Impressed You Lately About The Offense? "We've done some good things on third down. Yesterday, we were 4-4 in the red zone after doing well there last week also. It hasn't just been single plays or big plays, we've been able to keep drives alive."
Are The Lions Getting More Out Of The 2012 Draft Class Than Expected? "We had high expectations for everyone in this draft and we have a role in mind for all those guys. It's hard to say we're getting more out of them than we expected, it's more reasonable to say that all those guys have stepped in and played a role when they were asked. It's not just that, it's a guy like Joique Bell that we've picked up. He's rewarded the confidence we have had in him. He's been tough to handle in the field. It hasn't just been the draft class, we've gotten a lot of contributions from other guys along the way."
Thoughts On The Play Of Rookie Cornerback Jonte Green? "I thought he tackled well this week. He made his first interception, but it was a tipped ball. He has improved week to week, he's gained more confidence and that can only come from experience."
Talk About Joique Bell's Impact: "He's averaging 11 yards a reception, which is tough to do in the NFL as a running back. He's made a lot of plays for us, and it hasn't just been as a ball carrier from a rushing standpoint. I think he's a talented guy and he has good run instincts. He s a heavy runner. He's also benefited from some of the defenses we've seen. If teams try to take away some deeper passes, he's been able to get free underneath. He's done a good job of taking advantage of that, and he's certainly capable of making a lot of plays."Ashlee Palmer, Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Erik Coleman, Football, Jim Schwartz, Joique Bell, Jonte Green, Mikel Leshoure, NFL, Riley Reiff, Stephen Tulloch