KEY QUESTIONS: What is the status of All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson?

Posted Oct 7, 2013

Tim Twentyman covers key points from head coach Jim Schwartz's press conference, including what the Lions could have done more effectively on offense without Calvin Johnson and his status moving forward

The Detroit Lions still have a bad taste in their mouth after Sunday’s, 22-9, loss in Green Bay, but NFL coaches and players usually allow themselves just 24 hours to dwell on any one game before turning their focus to the next challenge the following Sunday.

In Detroit's case, that's a 3-2 Cleveland team.

Head coach Jim Schwartz took one last look back at the Green Bay game during his Monday press conference.

Here are some key questions answered from that session.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

What could have been done more effectively on offense without Calvin Johnson?

Schwartz admitted the Packers defense played them differently without Johnson in the game. Anyone who watched the game could see that.

There was a lot of single coverage on the outside and a lot of time that left a safety as a free defender to concentrate on stopping other aspects of the Lions offense.

"It’s all about execution," Schwartz said. "I think we had some opportunities."

"Matt (Stafford) scrambled for a first down (during a drive late in the first half) and we had a first-and-10, I don’t think it was a first-and-goal, but it was a first-and-10 opportunity that was called back with a holding and that became a third-and-15 or whatever it was. And we didn’t get it and we ended up with a field goal. And even though we went in only (trailing) 6-3 at the half, that certainly would have been a big change, being 7-6 right there."

Schwartz also put some of the blame on the negative plays. Stafford was sacked five times and Lions runners were tackled seven times for loss.

"When we’ve played well on offense, we haven’t taken those negative plays," Schwartz said. "Obviously the five sacks, but also a couple loss yardage runs and a few more penalties than we’ve had on offense. When you’re playing a good defense, you’re on the road, those are situations you want to stay out of and we could certainly do those things. We didn’t turn the ball over, but then again we didn’t get any either. So that ended up being a wash."

Was there any consideration given to playing Johnson as a decoy?

In short, no.

"If he’s not healthy enough to play, we are certainly not going to put a player out there to decoy because he still has to run routes," Schwartz said. "I mean what’s he going to do? Just line up and put his hand up in the air?

"I mean he still has to run routes and still be an option for the quarterback and have the potential to be able to take hits and things like that. That wasn’t an option at all."

Is there anticipation that Johnson could return to practice this week?

In the locker room after the game, Johnson said he was close to playing in the game, but decided against it after testing the knee I pregame warmups.

He also said he didn't expect the injury to keep him out long term.

"I really don’t have any anticipation," Schwartz said about practice this week. "We will just take and see how it comes.

"We’ve been through that before with him. He set an NFL record last year and he had limited practice time for a significant portion of that. We will take it as it comes. If he can get out on the practice field, that’s great, and if he can’t then we’ll wait until the next day."

Will Johnson play Sunday in Cleveland?

"We’ll see where he gets this week," Schwartz said. "He’s improving every day and if we can get him back, that’ll be a big bonus for us for sure."

What’s the status of running back Theo Riddick and tackle Jason Fox, who both left the game with injuries and didn’t return?

"No real new information yet," Schwartz said of Fox. "We’re still sort of working through that one. Too early to determine if he’ll miss any practice time.

"Theo Riddick missed with a concussion. He was removed from the game, actually taken to a hospital for a CT scan, which read as normal. He was diagnosed with a concussion, so he’ll have to go through the protocol to come back. I think other than that, we have a lot of other bumps and bruises and stuff like that, but nothing unusual for after a game."

What was the biggest issue leading to the Packers' five sacks Sunday?

The Lions entered the game No. 1 in the NFL after allowing only three sacks in their first four games.

Center Dominic Raiola said after the game that the offensive line "took one to the chin" in the matchup.

"Certainly you have to give credit to the Packers, they rush very well," Schwartz said. "(Clay) Mathews, (Mike) Neal, Neal was a tough matchup, he was rushing hard and affecting the pass. We had a couple, particularly one sack where we had a missed assignment, missed communication and we let one guy free and we were counting on that guy being the guy that was blocked."

Schwartz made the point, though, that the blame wasn't solely the responsibility of the offensive line.

"(The Packers) covered the receivers well and it forced Mathew (Stafford) to hold the ball a little longer," Schwartz said. "I think that played into it. It’s not always about an offensive lineman versus a pass rusher, sometimes it’s about a wide receiver versus a corner. I thought it certainly had impact on the game. We’ve avoided a lot of loss yardage plays when we have been successful as a team and we didn’t accomplish that in this game."

Schwartz certainly makes a good point, there weren't a lot of open receivers running around Lambeau Field.

How did Kevin Ogletree play in his first game with the Lions?

Sunday was only Ogletree’s fifth day with his new team after being signed Wednesday morning. He only ended up playing six snaps, but made the most of them, catching two passes for 20 yards.

"Even though he is a veteran player, there is still a reason we have practice and have training camp and things like that," Schwartz said. "Two of his catches were on the same play so we were a little bit limited when he was in the game because we didn’t have a big offensive package when he was in the game. But I thought he went in and made a couple nice catches. He did a nice job on short notice."

Why the timout late in the fourth quarter?

The Lions stopped the clocked with their last timeout following a Aaron Rodgers kneel down with 24 second left and trailing 22-9. Asked about it Monday Schwartz said he wasn't ready to concede the game just yet.

"We had one timeout left and they couldn’t take the clock all the way down to the end and we were going to rush the punt and we wanted to make sure we had time to set it," he said. "We put ten guys up to rush the punt, if we block that punt right there and score, certainly not outside the realm of possibilities at that point, we are going to try an onside kick and have a Hail Mary shot at the end zone in that situation. There was still some game to be played at that point.

"Once we didn’t block the kick and I think there was 17 seconds left and we were backed up at that point, we were just going to take a knee and the game was going to be over right there."

Do you have any comments on the reports surrounding Dominic Raiola?

Reports surfaced Monday morning that Raiola engaged in some bantering with members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

"When you’re on the road, there are hostile environments," Schwartz said. "Fans say a lot of things and stuff like that. We need to stay above stuff like that.

"I didn’t hear that, personally, on the field. No other coaches did. I think we already released a statement that we are going to look in to it as an organization. I’d be very disappointed if that was the case because that’s certainly not the character that we want to display."