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Lions HC Jim Schwartz discusses the Lions' offseason and how to improve after a down year.
On Backus and Hanson's status:
"Both of those guys obviously have played for a long time and have been successful in the NFL - talking
about Jeff Backus and Jason Hanson - and have been cornerstones of the Detroit Lions franchise. Everybody is still - players and personnel guys and everything else - everything is still in evaluation mode this time of year. I have seen both of those guys around our facility come in and get late workouts. Everybody has sort of been, chill mode now, nobody is really working out hard, but those guys both live in the area, so they have been in to workout."
On how much Bill Nagy's health comes into play when evaluating guards this offseason:
"He was a guy that obviously missed last year with the ankle injury. But we first got to know him when we played Dallas a few years ago and really liked what he did in that game and had
liked what he had done when he was healthy. Health has been an issue with him, not just as Wisconsin, but in his rookie year in Dallas and also coming into the second year. It's going to be one of those things that's going to be part of his evaluation. He's had a good rehab, he's been with us a great deal, he's from Cleveland, so he was with us a great deal during the season, not just rehabbing, but also going to meetings and things like that. He had a good chance to learn our system and he's had a good rehab; but, until you get back on the field, you never know, so that has to be taken into consideration."
On the possible major turnover on the offensive line:
"We're prepared for just about anything as far as turnover on the offensive line,
or turnover anywhere. I think that we've drafted on the offensive line, last year with Riley Reiff, and a couple years before that with Jason Fox. We've developed those guys and if we can plug them in, we're prepared to do it. All of those guys are guys that we think a lot of of and we think that they can go do the job if called upon."
On Tim Walton's strengths and weaknesses:
"Well, it's not up to be to decide if he's ready to be a coordinator. Jeff (Fisher) hired him to be one, so I'm sure Jeff feels that way. Tim's been a coordinator in college, he was a coordinator at the University of Miami and also at Memphis. He's a really smart guy and it was just a matter of time before he was a coordinator. As we went forward last year hiring Marcus Robertson as our assistant secondary coach, it sort of created a spot for him because I wanted to be prepared in case Tim got an opportunity like this. Even though Tim was under contract, it was important to us as a franchise and as a staff to allow guys to be promoted. I know some clubs don't take that
approach, but we've all been where advancement is important to our careers and to give him the opportunity to do that is something that he deserved. He's a smart guy, he'll be missed, but we've also already prepared for him going. In a couple of years he's going to be standing up on this podium also. Tim's a sharp guy, a charismatic guy, he's been a little bit of an under the radar guy, but not for long."
On whether he can give insight on the Titus Young situation:
"Not really. He's no longer a member of our team. Obviously it didn't work out for us. It's very disappointing. He's a guy that we drafted in the second round and was a guy that was physically very production for us and looked like he was going to be a very important part of our offense, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't all just physically what you could do on the field. As a result, he's no longer with us and we've moved on."
On his observations of Ziggy Ansah:
"I think at this point.. the Senior Bowl has changed a little bit because there are so many juniors that come out and things like that, but you see a lot of different guys from a lot of different places come in. Some guys have played football for a really long time, a guy like him, who's sort of new to the game coming in, from really a different background, it was interesting to see him grasp new concepts. It's one thing when you're out of school three or four years and can learn as you go, but to see him go and improve everyday and practice, have the game
that he had, very productive game, he's obviously a guy that's talented physically, he went a long way to answer a lot of questions about his background and aptitude."
On whether he expected that kind of game day performance from Ansah:
"Allen Iverson. We thought he practiced hard. Part of that whole evaluation is how guys do at practice. You guys have seen the Senior Bowl. Everyone surrounds the field and analyzes every little thing. It's not a whole lot different than guys vertical jumping and running the 40 at the combine. I think the most important thing in football and scouting is how they play. He played well in the game and just like this, it's important what your run a 40, it's important how many times you can bench 225, but the thing that's most important and what you can't lose
sight of is what the game day looks like and he's done a good job and has put together some good game tape."
On adding a change-of-pace running back:
"Just about every other position... We felt the loss of Jahvid Best last year because we really didn't have anybody to fit into that role, but we had also lost him the year before in 2011 and we were able to keep being productive on offense. The ball gets spread around different places. It's an important part of an offense, if you have them, but if you don't, there's still plenty of other ways that you can move the ball and score. That's something that we need to do a better job of this year."
On an evaluation tool...:
"I think everything is what it is. Obviously the No. 1 reason that this started was for medical reasons and you bring everybody here and have a chance to look at 300-plus guys, x-rays, MRI's, and get your hands on those guys. Each step along the way it added a little bit more, whether it was physical testing, or mental testing, or interview process, nothing stands alone. You're not going to draft a guy based on a 15 minute interview at the combine, or based on one attempt at a broad jump at the combine. It's all just part of the big picture. We have plenty other times to complete other things that we need on a player, including, what I was talking about before, the thing that's most important is what his game tape looks like. Even if this just the beginning for a lot of you guys, and even for
coaches, sort of kicks off the scouting process and things like that, every scout here - this isn't the beginning - this is closer to the end. Their grades are in and this is the final piece of the puzzle, not the beginning."
On Chris Houston:
"Corners are tough to find in the NFL and Chris (Houston) started out the season hurt, he had an ankle sprain coming into the regular season and missed the first couple of games. You realize how much you miss a guy when he's not out on the field. Chris this year added some things to his resume that he really didn't have before. There were a few games that he matched No. 1 wide receivers, guys like Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, people like that. That was something that we really hadn't used him for, he really hadn't done before. But he's played some quality football for us and has worked on some things early in his career that had been weaknesses. He's a vet,
he's a pro, he's a guy that's been productive for us."
On whether he had any special message for the team heading into the offseason:
"No different than we've had all along. I think that those are always...you look across the league, and it's a continuing education process when it comes to players from team-to-team, it's not just Lions, it's been other teams. Maturity, off the field issues, things like that, I guess it was just yesterday that more news that comes out and stuff like that. The players understand how important it is and they understand that it's not just what you can do physically on the field. A lot of other things go into your ability to stay in the league and your ability to be productive."
On the player evaluation process:
"It's changed a little bit because of what you're seeing in college football. You're seeing a lot more spread and running quarterbacks and things like that. There's always been difficult evaluations. Four years ago, everybody tried to figure out if an offensive lineman could pass protect, because they didn't see a lot of it in college because teams were running the wishbone. That was a big thing. Same thing with quarterbacks. Guys were throwing the ball 8 to 12 times a game in college and all of a sudden you're expected to do a lot more. You started
seeing teams throw the ball a lot more and you became better in your evaluations. There's always things that you have to project. You're not going to see everything from a player. They have their tape and what they're going to do well, but you're always going to have to project them and find a good fit. I think the most important thing in scouting is having a role for a player and having a job description, and not every job description is the same. What one team looks for in a quarterback is going to be different from what other teams look for in a quarterback. What might be right for one team, might not be right for another. I think if you keep those things in mind, then it cuts down some of the haze a little bit."
On whether the Lions are closer to being a winning team than what previous records show:
"That's why we'll play and find out. The only thing that we can be concerned of, when we get started in the offseason program, is going back to work and doing that. We can't be concerned about what our record was last year, or what our record is going to be this year. There are things that either happened in the past, or are too far in the future. That's a hardworking team and we just have to keep our eyes on the immediate things and worry about improving. If we do that, we have the potential to come back."
On whether he's talked to Jeff Fisher on Titus Young:
"I didn't have any conversations with Jeff about Titus. Jeff has been around our team a little bit, his son was on our staff a couple of years ago. BRandon is a good young coach, and when Jeff was out of work that year, he was coming up to see Brandon and sat in the stands for three or four of our games, so he had some insight, but not personal conversations."