September 19, 2022
Opening Statement: “Just after watching the tape, it felt like the defense really set the tone. I mean, you go three-and-out, three-and-out, safety, three-and-out, three-and-out, forced punt, forced punt, that’s in the first half. So, that gets you off to a pretty good start. Then, offensively we were able to capitalize on points early in that game and it’s a little bit like what happened to us against Philly a week ago. So, we got a good lead and we were able to hold on to it. Offensively, you rush for 191 yards for an eight average, that’s pretty good. And those guys upfront did a good job, the backs did a good job, (Lions QB Jared) Goff got us into the right place. And then, we had eight explosives, so run and pass. So, that’s pretty good. Special teams our average start position on the field was a 35 versus theirs was a 23. So, hitting yardage and then, net punt 48.8 to their 42.7. So, I mean really all three phases did their job. Things we’ve got to clean up, second half communication, man, and we just – in the backend we’ve got to clean some things up defensively. And then, offensively third down and fourth down we didn’t do a good job. We didn’t convert when we needed to. We’ve got to be better there. And then, special teams we were doing some good things, but there were of those returns that popped out on us. But all-in-all it was a good win for our guys.”
On the role Lions DL Charles Harris had in setting the tone for the defense: “Yeah, look I thought Charles did some really good things. But to me the safety really – the sack fumble, I felt like – that sequence I felt like was the difference in the game. When you look back and you – and there’s so many plays that make a difference that you think or – but when you go back and really watch it that – it started with that. The sack fumble for the safety and then (Lions WR Kalif Raymond) Leaf’s 52-yard return, and then we capitalized on a touchdown. That’s a nine-point swing, we won by nine. So, that little sequence there, I felt like was the difference in the game, so and Charles started that.”
On how valuable it is to have a wide receiver and a running back who can be go-to players for the team: “Yeah, it’s big. Anytime your halfback – let me start there, your running back is a guy who can do both, is an explosive athlete that can hurt you in the run and in the pass game, that’s trouble for a defense and it gives you a lot of flexibility offensively. And then on top of that, (Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown) Saint’s got the ability to play a little bit of that in the backfield, which we haven’t even really tapped into just yet. So, there’s a number of things we’ll be able to do, but those two guys are pretty dynamic players for us. And then, when you – when you’ve got those guys and you’ve got (Lions WR Josh) Reynolds and (Lions WR DJ) Chark on the perimeter and (Lions TE T.J. Hockenson) Hock in the middle, (Lions QB Jared) Goff’s got some weapons to go to.”
On how often he has come across receivers who are willing to block downfield in the run game and what that does for a team: “Well, it is all the difference in the world. I remember for – there was about a three or four-year period there where I used to do explosive runs. I did a study at the end of the year, and it was always two things, the running back and receivers blocking downfield. Those were the two things that were the common denominator in having those explosive runs. And so, I’ve been on both. I’ve been around guys that are pretty good receivers, but man, they get after it in the run game and it changes the attitude of your team. It just does because those offensive linemen, man, they appreciate that. And the defense appreciates it, there’s a toughness to it. So, and we’ve got it here and look, I think our coaches have done a great job. It’s an emphasis for us and they take ownership in it, they – it’s a right of passage here. But I also – I credit (Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown) Saint and (Lions WR Kalif Raymond) Leaf to that too, man. I think they set the tone in that room with that and it’s expected, all those guys and they’ve all bought in. I mean, (Lions WR) Josh Reynolds is blocking guys, (Lions WR DJ) Chark’s blocking guys, I mean they’re all doing it. So, it’s a good room.”
On if he seeks out players that can block downfield in the run game or if it can be taught: “Yeah no, I think it can be taught, but I think also it’s like – to an extent – we’ve got the right guys if that makes sense.”
On what it does for the team to get a win in Week 2 that they can build on: “Well, I just think you – listen, we’ve got the guys that are – they’re going to go to work and no matter what happens they’re going to put in the work and they’re going to try to get better. They’re going to compete. So, that’s never going to be the issue. But to be able to get our win, man, early in the season, Week 2, you get early validation as to what we’re doing. And we’re doing that without – without really all our bullets, we’ve got some guys out and it just – and everything that we’ve talked about, ‘Next man up, do your job, help us win,’ and we did that with the guys that were available yesterday, the 48-man roster for game day. So I think it’s big, but it’s just – I think it’s validation that we’re headed the right direction. These guys believe and they’re doing what we’re asking them to do and it’s paying off.”
On if there is an overlapping theme from last season as to why the defensive is struggling with communication and getting on the same page: “Yeah look, I think that some of it is – there is that little communication, I said that there is, but some of it is, ‘I’m communicating and you’re not listening to me.’ So, there’s a little bit of still discipline that we’ve just got to clean up and with that – guys are getting better. And we were much better this week than we were last week. But man, we still – we’ve got work to do. And doesn’t mean – they came out second half and did a good job. Listen, that’s a team that’s capable, that’s an NFL team, they’ve won some games, they’ve got good players, they’ve got good coaches and they’re going to make some plays. But man, you’ve got to make them go the long, hard way. You can’t give up the explosives we gave up just from our own errors. And so, just these little things we’ve got to clean up.”
On how important Lions Offensive Line Coach Hank Fraley has been to the offensive line room: “He’s been very important. Hank’s got a good feel of it, having played the position, but also coached it. And he’s got a real good feel of those guys, what they do well, how to develop the talent, and he just – he’s got a real good feel of how to pull it out of them. I mean, that’s – one of the things that’s not always – when you’ve played at this level like he has and played for a long time, and you’re not the best athlete –like, I wasn’t the best athlete, but you’ve got to understand the technique and you can give guys things that they need to survive and that’s what Hank’s able to do. And so, it’s one thing to do that, but man, you’ve got to be able to communicate and you’ve got to be able to motivate to push these guys. Because sometimes, man, when you’re an ex-player the – there’s a lot of guys that’ll start backing off and taking it easy because you feel a little bad for them because you know what that’s like, man, that’s hard. It’s hard, but you can’t do that, you’ve got to continue to push and he’s got a good balance of that. So, he’s very important to us.”
On if there is an update on Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson and Lions DL John Cominsky: “Yeah, we’re getting – Comish, he had a hand, so he’s getting checked out right now as we speak. And Hutch should be OK, he just had a little charley horse. He’ll be tender, but he should be fine. (Lions DL) Charles (Harris), we’ll see, feels OK today. Who am I missing? (Lions CB) Amani (Oruwariye) feels better today, we’ll see where that’s at. (Lions C) Frank (Ragnow) feels a little bit better today, we’ll see where that’s at. And (Lions G) Jonah (Jackson)’s probably relatively the same as he was two days ago. So, it’s kind of day to day now.”
On the offense answering to the big momentum swings in the second half and what that means to the team: “Yeah, it means a lot and that’s what – I think I mentioned this last night. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, but it wasn’t that – you knew they were going to come back and do something. They were going to be able to do a little bit of something, that’s just nature of this game, man, the ebbs and flows of it. And so, it wasn’t that, it was how we would respond to that and I felt like we responded well to it. That’s what was good, they climbed back in within almost one, really or one, and we were able to answer back offensively. And so, we kept that lead and we hung in there, and we didn’t let it – we didn’t crumble, and we didn’t let the stress and pressure break us. We hung in there and we finished the game, so that’s what excites me more than anything about how it went down yesterday.”
On how far Lions G Jonah Jackson is from being able to play a game through his current injury: “It’s a good question. It’s honestly just kind of take it as it is. I mean we’d like to see where he’s at. Wednesday, maybe, see how it feels, see if it’s something he feels like he can function with, and so we just – we really won’t know until – it’ll be something where he feels like he can function with it and have success.”
On how he approaches game planning and studying tape for an opponent who plays on Monday night: “Yeah, usually, I’ll watch it tonight. I’m going to watch it live, but most of the time, the coaches will be – they’ll still be game planning from what they know from preseason last week, and they’ll probably have it on in their offices. That’s always what we used to do, so they’ll be kind of peeking at it. And then – but really the deep dive will be late tonight, early morning when it gets into the system. When that game’s in, you can really break it down and see it from coach view, not T.V. copy.”