Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS: Twentyman responds to Lions' fans on Twitter

Posted Sep 19, 2013

Twentyman answers 10 questions submitted via his Twitter account including the way the Lions are handling rookie Darius Slay and Ziggy Ansah's start so far

Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive throughout the week from my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman", which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

Do you think consistently benching (Darius) Slay is the right move? Will it hurt his progression? Chad Reeb (@reeber93)

20man: I have a different school of thought on this.

I understand why head coach Jim Schwartz “goes to the bullpen” for veteran Rashean Mathis in certain situations. It's a comfort thing with Mathis' 10 years of experience, and to Mathis' credit, he's played well when he's been in.

But how exactly is Slay supposed to get the “experience” that Mathis brings to the table if he isn't allowed to play through certain situations?

Since we're talking baseball analogies …

How does a pitcher learn how to deal with the pressure situation of getting through a bases loaded jam with one out? The only way is to experience it. He has to be in those pressure situations and learn how to calm himself and make a pitch. A manager can't always go to the bullpen in those situations.

I think it's kind of the same thing for Slay, in a way. He's either good enough to start and has to learn how to play through certain situations, or he's not.

I talked to Slay earlier this week about this very things and he said he'd just as soon stay on the field and gain the experience.

Why do the @DetroitLionsNFL cornerbacks play the man and not the ball? How many interference calls will it take to change that? Travis Gerhart (@travisgerhart)

20man: I think it's a very fair question and I'm not sure the Lions have the answer. They've emphasized it in practice. I've heard Schwartz in many instances yell “turn your head” or “look for the ball”.

It's been a troubling trend the first two weeks and now opponents are picking up on it.

"It's something we talked about a lot," Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said after Sunday's game, via the Charlotte Observer. "Those (Lions) DBs play the receiver, they don't play the ball.”

Ouch.

At least it's a good sign the corners are in position to make plays, meaning they're not getting beat all time, which is something we couldn't say a lot last year. But they have to get better at finishing plays.

It's just one of those things the Lions have to emphasize and improve on or it'll continue costing them.

How would you rank Ziggy's start so far this year? #Lions Joe Bechtel (@bechtelJOE)

20man: I think Ziggy's made some impact plays and he's been a little unlucky.

He's had two sacks and two forced fumbles called back due to penalties. One was a close offside call on him and the other an illegal hands to the face penalty on Willie Young.

Ziggy has four tackles and a half sack in two games. If those other plays counted, we're looking at 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in two games, and people are really excited.

He's flashed at times and has been steady within the scheme. He's going to be just fine.

How do you feel about the lack of pressure on Palmer? Was it (Nick) Fairley out? Ryan Noah (@NoahWarpath)

20man: There are a lot of factors that go into that, Noah.

Palmer got rid of the football fairly quickly with an average time of about 2.5 seconds, according to a conversation I had with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham earlier this week. The Lions have seen that kind of strategy before to try and help neutralize some of the rush.

The Lions also held the Cardinals to 0 for 11 on third down and lead the league in third-down defense through two games, allowing opponents to covert at a measly clip of just 14.3 percent. I think the threat of the rush plays a factor in that.

All three of their interceptions this year are a direct result of good rushes. It doesn't count as a sack in the box score, but is it any less effective of a rush? Of course not.

The Lions do only have four sacks, though, which is good for 16th in the league. I'm sure they'd like to see those numbers increase moving forward.

With the Redskins defense being as bad as it has been (particularly the secondary) should we expect the Lions throw downfield more? Charley Doherty (@chuck_diezal)

20man: It certainly looks like there will be more opportunities to go downfield on Sunday, Chuck.

The Lions have only thrown the ball 21-plus yards in the air four times through the first four games and have just one completion.

Stafford has done a pretty good job of taking what the defense has given him, but expect a few more opportunities against a secondary that's allowing 310.5 passing yards per game.

The Redskins defense has allowed 11 passing plays of 20-plus yards, the fourth most in the NFL.

What should the Lions offense do to move the ball if Reggie Bush is down in the future? Justin Swanson (@IAmJaySwanny)

20man: How about catch the football?

The Lions have dropped 10.4 percent of the passes Stafford has thrown this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Without Bush, Stafford will have to rely on spreading the ball around and using the short to intermediate passing game to substitute for some of the run game.

The Lions will be fine if guys simply catch the football.

Who will play more if Reggie is out? Leshore sighting at all? Jarred (@JarredCoolbaugh)

20man: Well, Jared, if Bush doesn't play, I'd expect Leshoure to be active. This is just my opinion, but I'd expect rookie Theo Riddick to get some more work if Bush is inactive for Sunday's game in Washington. To me, Riddick fits more of the mold of what Bush provides the offense in terms of a pass-catching threat out of the backfield with speed.

Riddick was a receiver for a time at Notre Dame and I think he's much better in the passing game than Leshoure is.

I'd expect Leshoue to maybe get some goal line carries, but Joique Bell and Riddick would probably get the bulk of the work.

That's just an educated guess on my part.

With RG3 staying in the pocket more, how do our DBs match up w/their WRs? Caleb J. Anthony (@thecalebanthony)

20man: I've always thought the Lions match up better with bigger, more physical receivers than they do with smaller speed guys, like the Redskins have.

Players like Percy Harvin have always given the Lions fits.

Redskins receiver Santana Moss has 374 receiving yards in his last three games vs. Detroit.

Smaller, quicker and faster receivers tend to scare me more against this defense than some of the bigger, more physical ones.

When is it time to try giving (Joseph) Fauria a much bigger role in the offense? Jason Boothman (@JasonBoothman)

20man: Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told me earlier this week that Fauria had a big red-zone package set for the game in Arizona last week, but the Lions only got inside the 20-yard line once.

Linehan said Fauria can contribute between the 20-yard lines as well.

To me, he has to prove he can be a consistent blocker before he takes reps from Brandon Pettigrew.

Pettigrew is the best blocking tight end the Lions have, and quick frankly, he's the best overall option at the position. I know that's currently not a popular statement, but that's the reality.

I'd expect both Fauria and Tony Scheffler to get more snaps this week in Washington and both will have an opportunity to make plays and earn even more reps moving forward.

If the #Lions struggle against an obviously struggling #Washington team, should we be worried moving forward? James Randall (@JamesARandall_)

20man: A 1-2 start is never a good place to be, but losing two games on the road to tough opponents isn't grounds quite yet to cancel the rest of the season.

When the schedule came out and I saw the Lions had four of their first six games on the road, I thought a 3-3 start would set them up well the rest of the way considering they'd have six more games at home and some winnable games on the road down the stretch.

They did let a winnable game on the road slip through their fingers last week. It will be harder to secure a win this week against a team I feel is much more talented than the Cardinals.