Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin. I also scanned the Green Bay area media websites and the Packers website, to see what else the Packers players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions.
Here's what they had to say:
1. Philbin has been fielding questions about why winning games at this time of the year is still important when the playoffs are no longer part of the equation. They're some of the same questions Matt Patricia's been fielding in Detroit since the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention. Philbin said everything a player does matters. He also talked about the Green Bay Packers being thought of throughout the league as one of the first-class franchises in football. He said it's important to be known as a team that competes for 60 minutes and does things the right way. That's why Green Bay is taking Week 17 vs. Detroit very seriously, and the Lions can expect their best effort on Sunday.
2. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was asked similar questions about why he hasn't shut it down this year and if he plans to play this week vs. Detroit. Rodgers has a lot of pride, and told packers.com winning games matters to him because he's a football player and loves competing. Rodgers said he'll never quit on his teammates, and is playing Sunday in Green Bay.
Meet this weeks opponents, the Green Bay Packers.
3. Philbin has spent a lot of his coaching career on the offensive side of the ball, particularly working with offensive lines. He really liked Lions rookie guard Frank Ragnow coming out of the draft this year. Ragnow came from a pro-style system in Arkansas. Philbin liked how he sustained blocks through an aiming point and loved the temperament he played with. Philbin isn't surprised Ragnow was a starter in Detroit from Day 1.
4. There's "absolutely" some finger prints and DNA brought over to Detroit from Patricia's defense in New England, according to Philbin, who was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2012-15 and faced Patricia's defense twice a year. He said some of the things the Lions do coverage-wise and some of the combinations they use in the back end are cutting edge and some of the best in football.
5. Asked further about Detroit's defense, Philbin pointed out Damon Harrison, Jarrad Davis, Darius Slay and Romeo Okwara as Lions defensive players that have stuck out to him on film.
6. Rodgers gave a big endorsement for Philbin to be considered for the job permanently in Green Bay: "We want to play for Joe (Philbin) and give him the best opportunity possible," Rodgers told Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal after last Sunday's overtime win against the Jets.