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NOTEBOOK: Lions need to better protect Stafford

Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia have both made the comment before that the general manager and head coach relationship in the most import in the building.

When it comes to the offense, the same can be said for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"He and I shoot texts throughout the week while I'm at my place and he's here," Stafford said. "I know he's up all hours of the night here trying to figure out what's going to be the best way for us to go out there and score a bunch of points. I'm thinking about it constantly, too."

"We're bouncing ideas off each other all day at practice trying to find ways to make ourselves score some more points."

Offensively, the Lions don't rank better than 19th in any category. Even in passing, which has been the bread and butter of this Lions' offense, no matter the coordinator, since Stafford started playing every game in 2011.

The biggest problem the last couple weeks has been with the protections and the number of sacks the Lions have endured. Stafford's been sacked 16 times and hit 25 times over the last two weeks.

Cooter put most of the onus on him to do a better job protecting his quarterback when he spoke to reporters on a conference call earlier this week.

"Obviously offensively, I have to do a better job and we have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback through play-calling, scheme, execution, all those things," he said. "At the end of the day, we have to get that (sack) number down and do a better job with that.

"Stafford hangs in there, Stafford's a tough guy. He'll take a hit when needed. We just need to do a better job of protecting him. It starts with me, I have to improve the way we're going about doing that and fix some of those errors."

But as Stafford pointed out Thursday, it's also on him. It's on both Cooter and Stafford to find the right schemes and protections, and push the right buttons that get this offense back to scoring points. This is an offense with weapons and playmakers, even without Golden Tate, and it should be more dynamic than what it's showed through nine games with a veteran quarterback and experienced coordinator.

As Stafford said, it's up to him and Cooter to dial up the right plan this week to be more consistent on offense and score points against a tough Panthers' defense.


As a former linebackers coach, Lions head coach Matt Patricia can appreciate good linebacker play. He certainly sees plenty of it when he flips on the tape of Carolina's defense with All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Kuechly leads Carolina with 72 tackles this season, and has the most tackles of any player in the league since 2012 (890). Carolina has a lot of really good players on defense, but it's Kuechly who Patricia says makes that unit go.

"A guy that's extremely smart, studies the game a lot," Patricia said. "You can see where, a lot of the plays that he makes, it's stuff that he's either studied on tape, seen on film, maybe a recognition that he's obviously done his due diligence on to anticipate, and then he just moves so quickly when that ball is snapped.

"He really does do a good job of tying the back end and the front end together."

Detroit's offense will no-doubt have to account for Kuechly come Sunday.


Sitting in an empty locker next to veteran safety Glover Quin's locker is a picture of him and eventual Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald taken after Detroit's win over Arizona at Ford Field last year.

Quin sent the picture to Fitzgerald in the offseason, and had him sign it. Quin will eventually take it home to Houston, and it will join what's become a pretty vast collection of sport memorabilia amassed over a 10-year career.

He has a game worn Jersey from Charles Woodson playing his last game in the state of Michigan. He has photos of himself with Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Tom Brady. He'd like to get the Manning and Brady photos signed, but joked he didn't have their phone numbers to arrange it.

He has signed footballs and jerseys from former teammates and players he's looked up to over the years.

"I have a lot of things that I've collected over the years, a lot of cool stuff," Quin said. "I got some things put up. I got some things I haven't put up yet. I just want to decide how I want to do it, where I want to do it. But yeah, I've collected some good things and for me, I look back at some of that stuff and it brings back memories."

For Quin, it's those memories that are most important, and the things he'll remember the most long after his playing days are over.

Quin even indulged the media with one of his favorite stories in front of his locker Wednesday. When Quin was a rookie in 2009, he and fellow rookie Brice McCain were a little awestruck when they first got to Houston with wide receiver Andre Johnson, who by 2009 was well established as one of the league's best receivers. Quin said they would psych each other up to try and go talk to Johnson, but both couldn't muster the courage.

The locker room can be an intimidating place for a rookie, Quin said. His breakthrough with Johnson came after he intercepted a pass in practice. Walking back to the defensive huddle, Johnson gave him a fist bump for the play. It was after that Quin finally worked up enough courage to go talk to Johnson. They are close friends to this day.

It was because of that experience when he was a rookie with Johnson that Quin makes it a point to go up to rookies and introduce himself and spark up a conversation.

Quin probably has a lot of good stories like that to go with a lot of the cool stuff he's collected over a 10-year career.

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