KEY QUESTIONS: Schwartz on Stafford, injuries and his mentality heading into the final two games

Posted Dec 17, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at key questions asked of head coach Jim Schwartz during his Tuesday press conference following Monday's loss to Baltimore

Matthew StaffordHead coach Jim Schwartz was asked about his quarterback during his Tuesday press conference. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz took one last look back at Monday's loss to Baltimore during his Tuesday press conference before shifting the focus to Sunday and the New York Giants.

The first few questions for Schwartz were about his quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has struggled dating back to the second half of the loss in Pittsburgh.

Q. What has been the biggest issue with Stafford over the last five weeks and has Schwartz considered a change there?

A. The second part of the question was unequivocally, no.

"I haven't considered making a change," Schwartz said. "Matt's our quarterback. He's going to remain our quarterback and he's going to play well for us.

"I think the first thing you look at is it's all about the team and we haven't played well enough around him at other times. I mean, there were some times we dropped some passes, there were some times where we cut guys loose or got beat in protection. Other times he could make a little better throw and we just need to be better around him.

"We need to be better blocking, we need to be better catching, we need to be running the football."

It's true Stafford has dealt with more drops than other quarterbacks this season, but he also needs to continue to work to take better care of the football.

Q. Why didn't Schwartz take a timeout to save 30 seconds or so after the 3rd down run by Ray Rice that preceded game-winning field goal?

A. "Well, at first it looked like they were going to go for it, and then it looked like their field goal kicker sort of talked them into it," Schwartz said.

"But he kicked it with I think 43 seconds. With all three timeouts and 38 seconds and only needing a field goal, we thought that we'd be OK with that.

"You know, each play is usually about six seconds or so. So, you've got timeouts there and then you also have sideline, plenty of situations particularly when you only need a field goal."

Q. Why did David Akers handle the kickoffs instead of Sam Martin?

A. Akers kicked off four times in the game with two touchbacks. Martin has handled kickoff duty all season leading up to that point.

"You know, in pre-game warm-ups, Sam (Martin) didn't warm up real well for kickoffs and he started feeling a little bit tight in his groin," Schwartz said.

"He does punting and kickoffs and they're two different strokes with his leg. David was kicking well in pre-game warm-ups, so we opted to go with David."

Akers was among the league leaders in touchbacks last year with 40 with San Francisco.

"David kicked off all last year and we're still confident in his ability to do it," Schwartz said. "So, it gave us the benefit of having both and we allowed Sam just to concentrate on punting in the game. Didn't have to push it."

Q. What is the injury status of Brandon Pettigrew, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and did not return?

A. Pettigrew was injured after making a terrific 18-yard catch down to the Ravens 15-yard line to set up the Lions final touchdown.

"Yeah, he's been having some tests today and we'll see where he gets to," Schwartz said.

Q. What about cornerback Chris Houston and Darius Slay?

A. "Yeah, there's a chance for both of them," Schwartz said about both players' status for the Giants game after missing Monday due to injury.

Jonte GreenWith injuries to Chris Houston and Darius Slay, Jonte Green got his first start of the year. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

"We'll see on the practice field this week. I mean, I don't like handicapping them. Chris is probably a little bit ahead of Darius, but we'll see how they both respond this week.

"I thought Jonte (Green) went in and did some pretty good things for us. He battled, he was competitive, you know, he got that one penalty on a facemask, but he was up to the challenge. I thought he did a good job for us stepping in and playing."

Q. Does Schwartz view his job is on the line these next couple weeks?

A. "I look at it like we're one game down with two to play and, you know, I've been in worse situations and come out of them from a team standpoint," he said.

"We can't let anything detract from that. I mean, we'd all feel a lot better today if that kick had gone wide right or that kick had come up short.

"We're not in position now that we control our destiny, but there are two games to play and there is a lot of stuff that can happen over the course of two games."

He was then pressed about the subject a little further.

"You know, I understand that you guys have a job to do and there is stuff that you guys want to talk about and stuff like that," he said. "That's fine. But I don't think it does any good for me or for our team to let that be the focus, for us to continue commenting on that. So, I think I'll just respectfully decline to keep going in the same place with those (questions).

"Our focus is on the Giants. That's the only thing that we can control. We can control our preparation, we control our performance this week and that's the only thing that we can control. So, that's what we need to concentrate on and that's what we'll do.”