Chris

Jim Schwartz Says the Lions Can’t Live Off Last Year’s Success

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When Jim Schwartz came to Detroit, the Lions were as low as an NFL team could get. Coming off an 0-16 season, Schwartz inherited quite a project. His first two seasons were rocky as the Lions limped to an 8-24 record. However, the hard work, the fight and the determination was rewarded last season with the Lions first playoff appearance in over a decade. As the regular season approaches, the expectations are high for one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Lions need to take the next step and show that last season was a sign of things to come in the Motor City as opposed to just a fluke season. Jim Schwartz joined WNST in Baltimore with Glenn Clark to talk about whether he cares about winning preseason games, if he has any concern about the replacement officials, if the Lions will do any game planning in the preseason, whether Cliff Avril is playing in preseason game two against the Ravens, on the feeling in Detroit after such a successful season a year ago and Calvin Johnson’s greatness.

Whether he cares about winning preseason games:

“Oh no, we definitely want to win. We weren’t very happy with losing the last game. Winning is a habit and it doesn’t matter what you’re going about and what your objectives are, the number one objective is always to win the game. We need to play a little bit better than we did last week in order to do that.”

If he has any concern about the replacement officials:

“That will be the last thing that we are thinking about on Friday night. We have enough other things to think about with how we’re playing and all the different things that go into a preseason game. The Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis and the last thing that we’re going to be worried about is the officials. They have a job to do, we have a job to do and everybody does it. We don’t even think about it.”

On the game planning in the preseason:

“We don’t game plan during the preseason. We sort of work on our things but we know who their good players are and you also as part of a preparation as far as preseason, you need to learn how to deal with negating certain offenses strengths or trying to neutralize a certain defensive player or something like that. That’s part of the whole process so we know what jersey numbers those guys wear and we will be ready for them. We don’t necessarily game plan but just personnel and matchups and things like that, that’s such a huge part of the NFL that you need to sort of practice those things also.”

Whether Cliff Avril is going to play in preseason game number two against the Ravens:

“Yeah he’s been practicing and he’s healthy. He didn’t play in the first preseason game and we will see when we get to Baltimore how our guys feel and how they all warm up but that will be the plan.”

On the excitement in Detroit following the successful season last year:

“This is a great fan base here. Expectations are always high within a team but I think everyone else’s expectations are a little higher after the season that we had last year. We really can’t pay a whole lot of attention to that. We just have to go to work and not worry about last year, worry about training camp and today’s practice and keep our focus on shorter term things. We have good personalities to do it. Guys like Calvin Johnson, he’s not only our best player but he’s the hardest working player so it makes it easy for those guys. We’re at a different place than we were three years ago when the team was coming off 0-16. That had never been done before in the history of the National Football League. Now we’re coming off our first playoff appearance in a decade. Everybody has high expectations but it doesn’t change the job that we have to do but fourth year now in an offensive system, fourth year in a defensive system and third year for special teams. There’s a lot of continuity that goes on. We return a lot of starters and we don’t have to start over from square one and we don’t have to spin our wheels as much as we had to in the past.”

On getting Calvin Johnson the ball:

“We have a saying with Calvin, even when he’s covered he’s always open because he’s 6-foot-5, he can jump and he can run under 4.4. That’s really freaky and a lot of times you will throw him the ball and it’s the same way in basketball when you will get a switch and you will have a mismatch with a taller player on a shorter player down low and you just feed the ball into him, we can do that with Calvin. Calvin is a multi-dimensional player. He can go deep, he can work the middle, he can run after the catch, he’s very good in the red zone and we want to get him the ball. We’ve also spent a lot of resources putting good pieces around him. Most people start their game plan with Calvin Johnson and try to find a way Calvin is not going to kill them in the game and if they want to devote enough resources to doing it, you can get that done but that’s where we need Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, our running backs, we need those guys to be able to keep a defense honest and make them pay if they do overplay Calvin.”

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