Schwartz, Staff Prepare for Tomorrow’s Game

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 29, 2010 – 9:26 pm

Heading into this week’s Senior Bowl, Head Coach Jim Schwartz had an idea of what to expect having been to it before as a member of the Tennessee Titans coaching staff.

The week started off rough, but smoothed out as the days went on.

Schwartz: “Anytime you take this many players from different schemes, different parts of the country, bring them all together and have one meeting going out to practice, there’s going to be some rough edges that need to be ironed out. I think the guys got a better understanding as the week went on and were able to show themselves better.

“By the time we got to Wednesday and Thursday they really practiced well and didn’t make very many mistakes and things like that.”

Schwartz, his coaching staff and the Lions’ front office have been meeting on a daily basis throughout the week to discuss players on both teams.

Instead of it being like draft preparation, it is more like training camp evaluation, says Schwartz. Coaches and administrators and walking through players from both teams to talk about what they did well and what they didn’t on a practice-by-practice basis.

Schwartz: “It’s just a good week to evaluate – it’s a good week to be around the players. You’re not just in practice with them, you’re not just in the meeting rooms with them – you’re at social events with them, you’re at media events with them.

“You see them first thing in the morning and you see them late at night. So by the time the week’s over, you get a really good feel for each guy, not just as a player, but as a person and the way he handles his business.”

Coverage of the 2010 Senior Bowl will begin at 3 p.m. ET on NFL Network with the game beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


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Linehan Optimistic Moving Forward to 2010

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 28, 2010 – 7:26 pm

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sat down with Sirius NFL Radio on Wednesday to talk about this year’s Senior Bowl quarterbacks as well as the state of the Detroit Lions offense heading into the 2010 season.

While Linehan has been working with Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, Oregon State QB Sean Canfield and Cincinnati QB Tony Pike from the North squad, he has also taken a look at the South squad quarterbacks in Jarrett Brown (West Virginia), Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State) and Tim Tebow (Florida).

During his interview on Sirius, Linehan was asked about tinkering with the mechanics of these players this week.

Linehan: “I think the things with what people are saying about Tim or Tony – those guys are going to get better at it because they’re great athletes and they’re great competitors. They understand that there are certain things that they’ve got to improve on that maybe they haven’t been working on to this point because of a different type of system or something like that.

“But you start with the fact that they’re winners and they’re great players and they win a lot of football games – that’s the fun part is getting them better at some of the fine points in their game.”

In addition to the college players Linehan is working with this week, he was asked about Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his development throughout the 2009 season.

Linehan: “I was real proud of Matt his year. This only disappointing part about his season was the injuries. We’ve got to get that in the past and keep him upright and do those things. Somebody asked me the other day the question about rookies coming into the locker room and all that, I said, ‘Certain guys get it and Matthew is one.’ He was the No. 1 pick, highly touted, highly paid, all those things, but he came in and was just one of the guys and he didn’t try to be anybody but himself. We respond to that.”

Linehan says Stafford’s ability to walk into the locker room and be “one of the guys” really showed up with his grit and toughness.

The most memorable game for Lions fans is Detroit’s win over Cleveland in which Stafford rallied the team with five touchdowns to win in the final play.

Linehan: “I think everybody knew he was, but it’s extremely off the chart. That’s the kind of guy you rally around. He drags himself up off the turf and he’ll play with anything. We basically had to shut him down – he would have kept playing, but he was really banged up. He’s got the skill set, he’s got the mindset, got the great leadership kind of aura about him. I just think he’s going to be a fantastic player.”

Also discussed was Detroit’s offense and how it will respond in 2010 after spending a year in Linehan’s system.

While Linehan says things won’t “be easy” by any stretch, the fact that the players are familiar with both him and the scheme will prove beneficial.

Linehan: “We do have a couple pieces in place that we can rally around. If we continue to build around those, improve on things that weren’t good enough, continue to build on some of the things that we’re happy with – with a young team, with a young quarterback that you believe in and a great receiver like Calvin – I think we’re only going to get better.”

Listen to Linehan’s full interview on Sirius NFL Radio


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Schwartz sits down with Sirius NFL Radio at the Senior Bowl

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 26, 2010 – 7:08 pm

After Tuesday’s North team practice in Mobile, Alabama, Head Coach Jim Schwartz sat down with Sirius NFL Radio to talk about the Senior Bowl and the Detroit Lions.

Schwartz was more pleased with day two of practice after the players struggled to get things down in day one.

Schwartz: “They made a big jump from yesterday to today and hopefully we’ll make a big jump from today to tomorrow. We didn’t have meeting time before this morning’s practice, so we had to install a bunch yesterday – it’s just part of the game.”

Though Schwartz and his staff are preparing for a game on Saturday, practice methods are slightly different than they normally would be for game preparation.

Because this game is so closely tied with player evaluation, players are rotated through different positions and put through more individual drills to better see their skill set.

Schwartz: “You want to install enough to see how well they learn and see them in different situations, but the one thing you don’t want to do is overload them.”

In his interview with Sirius, Schwartz was asked whether he had studied the crop of defensive linemen coming out in this year’s NFL Draft.

Schwartz says he makes a point not to pre-evaluate players because he doesn’t want it to skew what he thinks when seeing them practice.

Schwartz: “A lot of times if you pre-judge – if you already say, ‘Hey, this is what the player is’ – you don’t accept (his performance at face value) in a game like the Senior Bowl. You say, ‘Well, he looks good in this, but I don’t think he’s very good.’ Or, ‘Hey, I think he’s really good’ and then you excuse him not doing so well in a game like this.

“I try to keep an open mind – let these games stand on their own – and then circle back and really get a good evaluation after watching them in a game like this.”

Listen to the full Sirius interview


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Schwartz says Crossman will add more than scheme

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 26, 2010 – 3:21 am

There were a couple changes made to the Detroit Lions coaching staff in the past couple weeks with the departure of quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton and the addition of Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman.

Head Coach Jim Schwartz says he is pleased with his coaching staff, but is always looking for other opportunities that may come up.

Schwartz: “It’s always a work in progress and different things may arise or something like that.”

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan will continue his role as the team’s primary quarterbacks coach – something Schwartz was particular about during the hiring process last year.

Schwartz: “It was very important to me that the offensive coordinator speaks directly to the quarterbacks.”

There won’t be much of a change when it comes to the quarterbacks room – Linehan was in charge of meetings last year – but it will change some things during practice.

Schwartz: “(The quarterback coach) generally takes guys through the practice period, the individual period and then, also, when Scott’s talking to the first quarterback, is talking to the second and third quarterback.”

Schwartz says he chose to reorganize the staff at this point instead of fill the position.

As for Crossman, he is down at the Senior Bowl with the rest of the staff after having two days in Allen Park. Because of that, he hasn’t had much time at all to review Detroit’s current roster from a special teams standpoint, but is looking forward to doing that in the near future.

Crossman: “We’ll spend the next couple of weeks really evaluating and seeing where we’re at and go from there.”

One thing Crossman is looking to do is make changes. Even though the Lions have had some success in certain areas of their special teams, he believes a fresh start would make a positive impact.

Crossman: “Sometimes something new and fresh excites guys. So we’re going to change things. I won’t go into detail of exactly what we’re going to do but it’ll look a lot of different schematically. Then it all comes down to getting good players to play hard, to play tough and play fast.”

Though Crossman is looking to make schematic changes, Schwartz sees him making an impact beyond that.

Schwartz: “Special teams, you need to touch every single player on the team. Head coach, special teams coach (and the) strength and conditioning coach need to touch every single player. It’s not just all scheme. There’s some more to it and I think Danny fits that really well.”


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University of Minnesota Names Horton Offensive Coordinator

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 23, 2010 – 9:08 pm

Detroit Lions Quarterbacks Coach Jeff Horton has left the team to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota.
 
“Jeff did a great job for us and while we are sorry to see him leave, we certainly understand what a tremendous opportunity this is for him,” said Head Coach Jim Schwartz in a statement. “We wish Jeff and his family the very best.”
 
Horton’s most recent job in the college ranks was also in the Big Ten as the quarterbacks coach for the University of Wisconsin (1999-2005). He moved to the NFL in 2006 with the St. Louis Rams (2006-08) before moving on to Detroit to join Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan.


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Schwartz, Staff Make Last Preparations for Senior Bowl

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 22, 2010 – 4:32 pm

Head Coach Jim Schwartz and his staff are in Allen Park putting the finishing touches on their preparation for the upcoming week’s Senior Bowl.

Schwartz and his staff will head the North Team, featuring local players like QB Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan), RB Joique Bell (Wayne State) and DE Brandon Graham (Michigan).

Schwartz: “You know a little bit about the players before you go down there, but I don’t want to get too much into evaluations. We’ll have the scouts give us a thumbnail on each guy but if we have a really good scouting grade on a guy and we don’t have as much feel for him, that’ll taint or prejudice our evaluation. Same thing if we have a low grade on a guy and then we really like him. You tend to hedge bets. I’d rather go with a clean slate.”

Because of the rules surrounding the game (e.g. teams can only rush six players on a punt; defenses can only play Cover-1 or Cover-3; offenses can’t shift), there really isn’t much of a game plan.

“It’s more just letting the players play,” said Schwartz.

NFL coaches around the League attend the Senior Bowl, so evaluating the way players practice or compete in the game isn’t foreign territory to Schwartz or his staff.

But actually coaching them during those practices has its advantages.

Schwartz: “Watching practice habits and watching the way a player moves through practice and being that close to him when he does it are all important. It’s all part of the same picture, but it’s a different part of the picture.”

The primary benefit the Lions’ staff will have, however, will be getting to know the players themselves. The staff will spend a full week with all of the players in attendance, sharing meeting and meal space and – in regards to the North team – practices.

All of those factors will add an element to evaluation debates leading up to the draft.

Schwartz: “You’re having breakfast with them. You’re riding the bus over to practice with them. It’s not just 15 minutes. At the combine you get 15 minutes to interview. When you bring guys here before the draft for physicals, you’re spending eight hours with them, nine hours with them. We’re with them for a week, so by the time the week’s over, we know them pretty well.”


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Pettigrew, Delmas Named to Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on January 20, 2010 – 4:14 pm

Both tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas were named to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team.

Among other members of Detroit’s rookie class, Pettigrew and Delmas were bright spots for the Lions in 2009. Pettigrew, selected 20th-overall out of Oklahoma State, started 11 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day.

Prior to that injury, Pettigrew had been finding a rhythm, catching 7 receptions for 70 yards with one touchdown at Seattle and 6 receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown against Cleveland. He finished the year with 30 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns and, besides developing as a receiver, was making an impact in Detroit’s run-blocking and pass-protection.

Delmas, who Detroit selected 33rd-overall out of Western Michigan, was a standout throughout the season and, despite his rookie status, became a strong leader for the defensive side of the ball both on and off the field.

He started 15 games at free safety, finishing the year with 91 tackles, two interceptions – one for a touchdown – and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. He also had two sacks and one safety.


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2010 Opponents

Posted by Tara Altman on January 4, 2010 – 10:58 pm

The Lions have announced their opponents for the 2010 season as follows:

Home: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, New England, New York Jets, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington.

Away: Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, Miami, Minnesota, New York Giants, Tampa Bay.


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