Lions head coach Matt Patricia held his first Monday press conference of the regular season on Labor Day. Here are the key questions to come out of that media session:
We didn't have to wait for a question on the three-year extension defensive back Quandre Diggs signed Monday morning. Patricia led his press conference with a remark on the versatile Diggs.
"He's another guy who's obviously a critical part of our team here defensively," Patricia said. "A guy that has worked extremely hard since he walked in the door. Someone since I got here who's really kind of embraced everything that we've been doing and has tried to take a big leadership role for us from that standpoint."
What's different in Allen Park this week as the team switches to regular season mode?
Quite a bit, actually. The focus now shifts strictly over to the Jets, with game planning and scheme implementation in full swing.
"The whole mode changes, really," Patricia said. "Really at this point, we start to transition into the next phase, which is specifically trying to game plan for an opponent, the Jets here, on a long week.
"It's just a completely different mindset. We really start diving into scheme from that standpoint and really work on what exactly is going to help us win in the game as opposed to really just player evaluation."
Speaking of the Jets, they plan to start rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, what challenge does that pose to Patricia and Co.?
Drawing a rookie quarterback the first week of the season has it's challenges because there's not much film on him to prepare for. Also factor in the fact that the Jets have a new offensive coordinator, and played it pretty vanilla in the preseason. It's almost like there will be a feeling out process early for the Lions' defense Monday night.
"It's a big challenge, I think, when you get those guys," Patricia said of facing rookie quarterbacks early in the season. "And certainly with a new offensive coordinator, maybe a couple different things scheme-wise that they're going to do with the hiring of a couple new coaches.
"We'll see it firsthand before we really get a taste of what it looks like. Because the film, I don't think, is really going to show us anything."
What went into the decision to keep six wide receivers on the initial 53-man roster?
Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Brandon Powell and Bradley Marquez made the initial 53. Patricia eluded to a trend he's seeing around the league with teams keeping more receivers on the roster.
"I think a lot of teams right now are keeping about six receivers with as much sub offense as teams run," he said.
Patricia also pointed to special teams being a big factor in the Lions' decision to keep six. Both Powell and Marquez could be core special teamers, if they're active on gameday.
"Special teams will be a big part of the that and some guys that can help you like (Brandon) Powell or Bradley Marquez, guys like that can help in those situations have another value. More so than just offensively.
"They can be an impactful player in the third phase of the game, which is critically important. So, I think both of those guys kind of fall into that category. They all do a good job of really participating in special teams. Those guys that will be out there in those core situations are the ones that you really try to hold on to when you can."
Why Matt Cassel over Jake Rudock as Matthew Stafford's backup?
It appears the decision really came down to Cassel's experience in the end. Those 81 career starts, and Cassel having played in a lot of situations over the years, proved to be the difference.
"I think Matt did a great job of coming in here from the spring and really learning the system and the communication in the offense itself," Patricia said.
"I think he does a good job of kind of handling the different positions and getting everything checked and changed. And he's seen a lot of defense too, so he can recognize some of those different looks that he's seen based on formationing or personnel. Things like that he has a good recognition of that also."
The good thing for the Lions is they can still develop Rudock while he's still on their practice squad. Patricia said he'd like Cassel and Rudock to continue to compete.
What do the Lions have to get out of Ziggy Ansah this year to be successful on defense?
This was the last question posed to Patricia Monday, and his response was good.
Obviously, the Lions are expecting a lot out of their franchise tag edge rusher. Ansah was Detroit's leading sacker last season and is probably the team's best pure pass rusher.
But Patricia has a team concept on defense.
"I think again the defense as a whole has to be successful as a unit," he said. "I think it will be more than just one player. I think for Ziggy it's going to be the same as everybody. Go out and do his job to the highest of his ability and execution and whatever we're asking him to do on that particular play or that particular week.
"Make sure that it's as good as it can be and helps us win. I think from that standpoint it's not really situational to say, 'This one guy has to do all of this in order for us to win.' It's a combined unit effort."