Schwartz Gives an Update on Stafford

Posted Nov 23, 2009

Head Coach Jim Schwartz touched on yesterday’s win with his team this morning, but was quick to move on. In fact, the team didn’t even watch film of the Browns game.

“(We) said a couple of things about the game and immediately moved on to Green Bay,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Lions, however, one player who may not be able to play against Green Bay is the team’s rookie quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

Heralded yesterday for his gutsy performance of coming back in the game to throw what would prove to be the winning touchdown pass, Stafford’s non-throwing shoulder is still sore and – if that continues – is likely to keep him out of Thursday’s game.

“There’s a chance that that goes away in the next couple of days, but structurally everything is good,” said Schwartz. “I don’t think there is any lasting damage, but he’s extremely sore as you can expect. Like I said, we’ll see – you don’t want to close the door on anybody.”

That doesn’t take away from the fact that Stafford’s performance on Sunday was a tangible showing of what he is capable of doing as a quarterback. Schwartz has talked about Stafford’s toughness since the Lions drafted him in April, but that toughness hasn’t been on display the way it was yesterday.

Schwartz says there have been things Stafford has done in recent weeks that have shown his teammates exactly what kind of mentality he has.

“What he did yesterday, I think that speaks,” said Schwartz. “The one thing about Matt is Matt’s never pointed the finger at anybody other than himself for anything that’s gone wrong here, so he’s taking responsibility. I think all of those things lead to point at his leadership and his respect in the locker room.”

Stafford isn’t the only player to come out of Sunday’s game banged up.

Safety Ko Simpson suffered a knee injury yesterday and is still being evaluated. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has hand and knee injuries and running back Kevin Smith is listed with a hip injury. Linebacker Ernie Sims also remains on the injury report with a hamstring injury.

“We’re not going to just get extra points (because of our injuries),” said Schwartz. “We’ve got a job to do and we’re going to do it. It’s the National Football League. ”

Green Bay also enters this game banged up.

Two defensive stars for the Packers – veterans Aaron Kampman and Al Harris – are already listed as out for this week’s game with knee injuries.

Looking at Sunday’s box score, it’s tough not to notice Stafford’s 422 passing yards, Johnsons 161 receiving yards or Smith’s 149 all-purpose yards. But there were pivotal plays and performances beyond those numbers that were crucial to Sunday’s win.

For one, center Dominic Raiola and the offensive line held their own against former teammate Shaun Rogers, limiting the defensive tackle to just one quarterback hurry. The line also allowed just one sack and three quarterback hurries for the game.’’

“Shaun is a great player, we all know that and we had our hands full trying to contain him,” said Schwartz.

“I don’t know what the official stats were, but the gamebook had him for zero tackles, zero assists, no sacks, just one quarterback hurry. That says a lot about Dominic, (Daniel) Loper, and Manny (Ramirez) because you don’t see that often against a great player like that.”

Other keys to the game included offensive players selling routes and play-action to allow others to get open and score.

On Smith’s 63-yard reception to open the game, Calvin Johnson helped the play with a deep route. On Smith’s touchdown, Stafford pump-faked the safety to create the opportunity for the touchdown catch. On the touchdown to Will Heller, Smith faked a hand-off and endzone dive to leave the tight end wide open.

It all came together to allow for the come-from-behind victory.

“I think winning creates confidence and I think that anytime you’re losing, people question themselves and then they question a lot of different things,” said Schwartz. “When you lose, there are a lot of players who have a history of success and then all of a sudden they’re losing. I don’t want to make too much from one win but I think it does help when players have confidence.

“Look at Calvin – he set his career receiving record. Calvin has struggled with some injuries this year and at times he hasn’t been able to play football. But he comes out and has that kind of game. That doesn’t help just him, it helps the whole offense. ”