Jim Schwartz and his Detroit Lions choked away their best opportunity to take control of the NFC North division with a major, ugly Monday night meltdown that included a sampling of the same problems the team has seen all season long. As a result, many are calling the Lions' season over, and starting additional calls for Schwartz's job at season's end.
In spite of that and the longer odds of the Lions making the playoffs, Schwartz isn't ready to give up on the 2013 season. Schwartz said being one game down with two games left isn't an impossible situation, and believes the players can find their way out of a tough spot. Additionally, Schwartz discussed Matthew Stafford's issues, saying the team still has confidence in the quarterback, gave kudos to Justin Tucker for clutch kicking and bristled at questions about his job. Here's that and more from Tuesday's meeting with the media.
Have You Considered a Change At Quarterback, Either This Year Or During The Game? "Matt (Stafford) is our quarterback and he's going to play well for us. When would you have made that change? Would you have made that change before we took the lead? That's what you get into. There aren't many teams in this league who will yank or shuffle their quarterback."
Are You Holding Matthew Stafford Accountable For His Mistakes? "I think we hold all our players to a high standard. We also don't publicly shame them. We've never done that to any player. He'-s no different when it comes to that. We're one game down with two to play, and Matt's a big part of our ability to be successful."
Does Stafford Need A Quarterback Coach's Help? "Well first of all, I think he's an accurate passer. We have coaches here. I don't know anything about quarterback gurus or anything else that works with them. Matt has been technically sound. We can play a little bit better around him, and that's the key."
During The Course Of The Game, When Does Stafford Get Out Of His Mechanics? "I think that's just him as a quarterback. He can throw the ball a lot of different ways. It's just him. If a pass isn't complete, people say it was because it was sidearm or from a different slot. A lot of times it's right there. I don't think all quarterbacks are going to be 100 percent on completed passes. We can do better from a catching the ball standpoint and a running the ball standpoint. We all want to improve and we all want to do better around Matt."
Why Wasn't A Timeout Called Before Baltimore's Final Field Goal? "At first it looked like they were going to go for it. Then it looked like their kicker talked them into (the field goal). We thought that we'd be ok with that. Also, (not calling timeout) didn't give them any extra time to make a decision or to get more settled. With 38 seconds left, we felt like we were in good shape. That did go into it. Had it been closer, if they did get inside that fringe. Had they been at the 15 yard line or 20 yard line, I guess you'd say a more makable field goal, that would play into it more. I thought we had time with three time outs and 38 seconds, particularly only needing a field goal."
On Justin Tucker's Performance For Baltimore: "He was making them from 63, 64 yards in warm ups. He's an outstanding kicker, and he did all of their scoring, including the game winner there. It was a job well done by him."
What Went Into Swapping David Akers For Sam Martin On Kickoffs? "Sam warmed up and he didn't feel good with his leg. It was a little tight. Punting and kicking are two different strokes. We have confidence in both and we allowed Sam to focus on one thing. it was a direct consequence of how he warmed up before the game."
Is there a Chance At Getting Chris Houston And Darius Slay Back This Weekend? "There's a chance for both of them. I don't like to handicap them but Chris is ahead of Darius. I thought Jonte Green went in and did some good things, stepping in and battling. He was called for a penalty, but had a few pass break ups."
What Makes It So That This Team Can't Hold A Fourth Quarter Lead? "Well you say that and we also have had times we've come back and won. I don't think it's something we can't overcome or that is part of the personality of the team. We've just been in that slump in the fourth quarter."
Was There Thoughts Of Putting Joseph Fauria In To Block The Field Goal? "The only problem with that is the way the rules have changed. You can't get in and push so he'd be jumping from behind the line of scrimmage. You don't see anybody across the league do it because of that rule change. I thought our guys were doing a good job of rushing, but it didn't affect their kicker."
Where Can These Lions Improve The Most? "I wouldn't put it on any one thing. You're always evaluating. It's a continuing process for me and all our coaches and our players. I'll let you guys decide that."
Are There Concerns About Your Job Being On The Line? "You know, I look at it like we're one game down with two to play. I've been in worse situations and come out of 'em from a team standpoint. That's where we are. I know it sounds like I keep saying the same thing, but you can't detract from that. If we had played that game exacting the same way except (Justin) Tucker misses that, and we come out with the win, we'd feel a lot better about ourselves but we'd have played the exact same way. We talked about it last night. We're not in the position where we control our own destiny. The only thing we need to do is go out and win. We need to worry about the New York Giants. We'll have the team ready. We can't control our own destiny, but we can control how we play."
When Was Your Last Meeting With The Ford Family, And Did You Discuss Your Job Prospects? "You know I've never been one to talk to stuff about that. That just feeds into something which is other than what our next game is about."
Final Thought On Job Speculation: "You know I understand you guys have a job to do and it's something you guys like to talk about, but I don't think it does any job for us to comment on that. So i think I'll respectfully decline comment. We need to focus on the Giants."
Describe The "Worse Situation" You've Been In With A Team? "Well, I was on a team that started 1-4 that ended up in the AFC championship game… There's been too many to talk about, but one game down with two to play is certainly not one of those situations. We're not two down with two to play or three down with three to play."
Are The Players Concerned About Your Job Prospects? "Well you guys bring it up, and that's your job, but for me to keep commenting on it, you guys can make it an item, that's fine. We don't talk about it our meetings. Our job is to go out and prepare and try to win. We're all professionals. Everyone has a job to do during the week, and I don't think it's anyone's job to worry about that."
Feelings On The Loss And Where The Team And The Quarterback Go Next: "It's a difficult situation for anyone on our team. It feels like we're 0-14. It's just what you go through. It's life in the NFL, and I stole that line from Joe Flacco, who said after a loss last season that it felt like they were 0-14. Matt (Stafford) wants to do everything he can to help this team win and he feels a responsibility to help this team win. Knowing Matt, where he's been what he's done, it's not going to affect him. We expect him to go out and play well."
Why Have Penalties And Turnovers Remained An Issue? Do You Need To Change The Message? "Yeah, well, I thought we've improved tremendously in penalties considering some of the things that plagued us years ago, after the whistle, stuff like that. Sometimes officials will throw flags and sometimes they won't. Our job isn't to go out and officiate. Every team in the NFL is going to emphasize ball protection and takeaways. We're no different. Everyone has a hand in it. Defensively, it's the same way. We were really close to a few turnovers. We were really close on a couple, but no cigar. We have to find a way to get those balls. A key play here or there can change the game."
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