Schwartz Remains Confident in His Team Moving Forward

Posted Oct 4, 2010

At 0-4, it may be disconcerting that Head Coach Jim Schwartz has a positive outlook on his team and the direction it’s moving.

“We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted,” he said Monday.

Obviously zero wins is not the start the Detroit Lions wanted, but Schwartz’s mindset is based on everything that has come up so far this season.

“(Keeping a positive attitude) doesn’t mean anything if you’re struggling to even compete in games,” said Schwartz. “If we’re 0-4 and we’re getting blown out in every single game or we’re at full strength and we still can’t get over the hump, that’s a harder sell for those guys.”

Detroit has lost an offensive starter in each of its first three games, most notably starting quarterback Matthew Stafford to a shoulder injury in Week 1.

Schwartz says Stafford is “right on course” in regards to rehabbing the injury, but the staff is making sure he doesn’t come back too soon considering it is his throwing shoulder.

“He will be back, whether it’s this week or not; whether it’s next week or net; whether it’s the week after that – still yet to be determined,” said Schwartz. “We’ll just keep on saying we’re talking about a quarterback’s throwing shoulder and we’re going to be very judicious in his time he comes back on the field.”

Schwartz expects Stafford to be back this season, but doesn’t want to put a timetable on the injury – something he has made a point of avoiding with all players since taking over as head coach.

In the meantime, the Lions have been led by back-up quarterback Shaun Hill, who has performed well over the three-and-a-half games he has played.

“That’s why we brought Shaun here: to get an experienced player that would give us a chance to win every week if Matt did go down,” said Schwartz.

“That’s the definition of a back-up quarterback and that’s one of the things we had as the criteria when we signed him is to give us a chance to win the game.”

The Lions lost wide receiver Nate Burleson to an ankle injury on the first play of their Week 2 game against Philadelphia.

Burleson has since missed both divisional road games – at Minnesota and at Green Bay – and his status is still unclear for this week’s game against St. Louis.

“He’s making good progress,” said Schwartz. “I think probably Wednesday and Thursday will be big days for him. (We can) see what he’s able to do on the practice field and how much he can do. But he’s a lot closer than he’s been the last couple weeks.”

The Lions have had injuries and tough opponents, but winning and losing ultimately lies in their hands and Schwartz sees two primary issues to address.

“I think that if you look at our first four games, there are two things that have have come up that we need to get past,” he said. “One is turnovers on offense, particularly ones that take scoring opportunities away from us.

“The other one is big plays on defense. We’ve had an 89-yard screen pass, we’ve had an 80-yard run; I think we’ve had either four or five plays over 40 yards. We’re giving up 4.8 yards a rush (and around) eight yards a pass attempt. That’s all directly attributed to those big plays.  We need to get past those. We need to put those out.”

Schwartz is confident the Lions will get past those issues, but it will take work and confidence-building on the part of the players and coaches.

“We have the talent, we have good schemes – all of those different things,” said Schwartz. “When we’re able to get over the hump and get (injured players) back and all those different things, we can get on a roll.”