CONFERENCE CALL WITH LIONS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL
How is Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah doing after his ankle injury and what contributions have you had from Lions DE Kerry Hyder and DE Devin Taylor rushing the pass?
“He’s coming along. Making steady progress and certainly you can see that if you watched the game last week or look at the notes. He’s moving along quite well. Things don’t always show up on the stats sheets in terms of how effective a guy was. We have gotten some really good play from Kerry Hyder, obviously, through the stretch. He’s led our team in sacks and been a factor every week. Certainly one of those guys that works extremely hard to get his job done. Devin Taylor has also had some bright spots as well.”
When you look at the Texans pass rush, what do you see from Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus?
“Two very, very talented guys. Obviously Mercilus is leading the pack just in terms of sacks. When you look at Clowney, I mean he can beat you inside or outside. He’s strong. He’s powerful. Just a real threat. Obviously (Benardrick) McKinney is also a factor and then John Simon who just hustles nonstop and makes things happen. That entire group. That front. We played against (Vince) Wilfork a number of times that we know he can push the pocket as well. That’s a talented group of guys and they’ve been giving people problems.”
What is it about Lions QB Matthew Stafford that allows him to be so effective late in games?
“Well one thing, I think his preparation is such that he really prepares himself for those kinds of moments. Number two, obviously he has some unique talents and focus where he doesn’t back down from real tough situations. Number three I think his leadership just in terms of getting guys to rally around him particularly in those crucial moments. He kind of has a knack for that.”
What do you see from Texans QB Brock Osweiler and how he has had to learn on the job?
“I’m the wrong guy to ask that question to. I think you should ask that question to Bill (O’Brien), his staff down there. They know him better than anyone. They’ve been around him. We have our own problems here trying to get our guys headed in the right direction.”
You guys just added veteran running back Justin Forsett to your roster. What does he add when it comes to leadership?
“He’s been a real fine addition to our team. He has the veteran presence that I think is invaluable. He’s been around. He’s played. He’s played in a lot of different situations. He adapted rather quickly to our system. He learns it well. I think because of the fact that he can associate it maybe with some of the systems that he’s been in before. He sets a great example and a great tone as a true pro for all of our young guys.”
Can you speak to how well Lions QB Matthew Stafford is playing right now?
“I can tell you he had some great stretches before we got here. He’s always been a very, very talented guy that’s had some incredible amount of success when you look at his numbers and stats. Since we’ve been here, I think we came at a time where typically you see quarterbacks start to really mature down the line. To me, it happens kind of between their fifth and eighth years and we’ve been fortunate to be here during the time where he just continues to get better. He’s had a really good run at things lately, but I think he’ll tell you without question that the pass doesn’t mean a whole lot. That what he does this coming week is what he’s focusing in on and so we know that we have to get better.”
What has helped you turn the team around and get the three-game win streak going?
“I just think that we’ve just been focusing on trying to get better. We try to master the moment and just look at exactly what we’re challenged with and we just try to find a way to make certain that we’re taking care of all the details. There’s an old saying that says ‘take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves’ and our guys have been focused on the little things.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
You’re 10-5 over your last 15 games and you have an incredible touchdown-to-interception ratio. How much is that because of Lions Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and how much is because of you?
“I think it’s a combination of the two. Obviously I’m comfortable in what we’re running and the guys around me are making plays. The 10-5 record, that’s not an offensive thing. That’s a team thing, that’s our offense playing well, our defense playing well, special teams, and finding ways to win games. Just going to try to continue to play good, smart, efficient football and help our team win.”
It’s early, but some people have mentioned you already as playing like an MVP candidate. What do you think about that?
“I really don’t pay too much attention to it. I just care about how I perform for the guys in this locker room and this coaching staff and the owners and the people affected by the Lions. That’s what I care about. Preparing as hard as I possibly can to play well for those people.”
Can you talk individually about the Lions wide receivers, specifically Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin?
“I think they’re all playing at a really high level. Obviously, each has their own things they do that are different than the others and makes them successful. Our job is to try to put those guys in positions to succeed and watch them go do their thing.”
You’ve had some trying times in your career. What kind of advice would you give Texans QB Brock Osweiler right now?
“I don’t know if he needs any advice from me. The thing that has always helped me is just continue to work. That’s all you can ever do as a player is continue to work and do everything you can to help yourself play as well as you can.”
What do you see from Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus?
“Really athletic guys. Big, physical, can run, have power as well. They move them around quite a bit. They create matchups. Really, everybody on the defense for Houston is playing well.”
Are you guys playing as well offensively right now as you’ve played in your career?
“I don’t know. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We’ve won a couple games late. We know we don’t let that overshadow some of the things we do in the rest of the game that aren’t as good as we possibly can. We have to continue to try to get better and continue to try to put as many points up as we can.”
What does it say about you as a quarterback that you’ve had all these fourth quarter comebacks?
“I think, more than anything, it says a lot about the guys around me and the team I have. I’ve been really privileged to play with a lot of really good players. In those situations, you just try to put the ball in position for those guys to go make plays, and I’ve had guys around me that have made plays.”
What have you seen from Texans CB A.J. Bouye?
“He’s playing good. He, like a lot of those corners, they’re kind of getting shuffled in and out every once in a while. You see him on tape sometimes, you don’t see him other times, but when he’s in there he’s playing really well. Really, everybody in the secondary, I think, is playing at pretty high level, doing a really nice job against the pass.”
What’s different about this season for you than previous years?
“I don’t know. I think, obviously, each season you do things a little bit differently based on your personnel and who you have around you. We’ve done a really nice job of spreading the ball around and scoring points. Obviously, not perfect and can be better in a lot of areas, which we’re working hard to get better at. Quarterback play and myself is no different than anybody else. Just trying to do what I can to be better.”
Do you guys feel like you’ve been overlooked at all this season?
“No, I don’t think so. We don’t pay too much attention to it, really. We don’t ever talk about that stuff as a team or coaching staff at all. We just worry about the next game and the next opponent, go week-to-week and try to get wins.”
What has Lions Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter meant to your success over these last 15 games?
“He’s been great. Obviously, he’s a really smart guy, does a nice job of putting plays together and game plans together where guys on our team can be in their best position to succeed. He and I see the game very similarly. It’s worked out well.”