Lions Q&A with Jon Gruden

Posted Dec 14, 2013

Jon Gruden on Lions' playoff chances, Matthew Stafford, o-line play and more

Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico and the Monday Night Football crew were in Allen Park on Saturday getting ready for Monday’s broadcast of the Lions vs. Ravens game.

Gruden stopped and chatted with some media members about Detroit’s chances in the playoffs, quarterback Matthew Stafford, the offensive line play and more.

Q. Can this team be frustrating to watch on tape because they are so talented but don’t always beat less talented teams?

A. "I talked to Gunther Cunningham a little earlier and there are two or three plays on defense where they’re not just getting beat for a first down, but getting beat for big touchdowns and gash plays. That’s bewildering. I guess frustrating. The turnovers. It appears carelessness at times. But they are in first place. There’s a lot of good things. They have three weeks to redeem themselves in glorious fashion."

Larry WarfordG Larry Warford (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Q. How does the Lions offensive line look to you?

A. "The cut-ups of film I make that we go over in preparation for the game, the first one I sent out was the improved offensive line. (Dominic) Raiola (has looked good), for sure, but the right guard (Larry Warford) has been an eye opener for me. He’s played great. In pass protection. His ability to run block and get on the perimeter in screen plays. I think they are better in three positions: left tackle (Riley Reiff), right guard (Warford) and right tackle (LaAdrian Waddle).  Even though he’s been here for 100 years, Raiola is playing as good as I’ve seen him. They are really better at four positions and (Rob) Sims is just a really good football player. I credit this Jeremiah Washburn (offensive line coach) and what he’s done."

Q. What have you seen from Matthew Stafford?

A. "For him to be great. For him to put it all together. He’s going to have to eliminate the turnovers. He has to take better care of the ball, yet he’ll still have to be aggressive and make some of those vintage Matt Stafford throws to win. So there’s a fine line of what I’m saying. He has to take care of the football and eliminate the bad decisions. There haven’t been many, but they must be eliminated."

Q. Can Stafford be in that upper echelon of quarterback?

A. "No question. You don’t do what he’s done without being a great, talented quarterback. They surrounded him with Reggie Bush now. I think a healthy (Brandon) Pettigrew and a better offensive line. If there ever was a time for the greatness to begin, now is that time. He’s been really good, but to be a great quarterback, you have to make the turn. You have to be in the playoffs."

Q. Can this Detroit team take the next step?

A. "Detroit can do this because they have a quarterback. They have a great receiver. They have a running back. Their offensive line is solid. I think their defensive front seven is scary. They have to eliminate the explosive plays they’ve given up. They have a returner now. They have the components to win. God help you if you have to come to this dome and play. They are a different team in this dome. I’m just telling you. If they can get this one, they’ll be hard to deal with in the playoffs."