Q: What do you see from this Lions roster, personnel-wise and schematically? How much of that is from the former Saints coordinator and where he came from, or is it something completely different?
MP: I think from a system standpoint, they are doing a great job of mixing both the vertical passing game and the play-action, intermediate-type passing game, along with the sub-run game and the two-back run game, so it’s kind of a mix of both philosophies there. I think the quarterback, it starts with him, doing a great job of trying to get the ball downfield, get the ball to his skilled players, extending plays. He’s a very athletic guy, he’s got a strong arm, so he can do a lot of things from the quarterback position as far as moving around in the pocket or getting outside the pocket, along with dropping back, being able to read the defense and then get the ball to the appropriate receivers. I think he’s doing an excellent job of distributing the ball around and getting it to the guys that he needs to get it to. You definitely see as far as Coach [Jim] Caldwell and Joe Lombardi doing a great job with him and trying to emphasis spreading the ball around to their different skilled guys. Certainly in the passing game, starting with the receivers, you’ve got Calvin Johnson, who’s just a phenomenal player. He’s obviously a very big target with great speed, great length and really can build speed on you downfield and is really open all the time – just a large catch radius for a guy that size with his speed combination. He’s obviously a huge target and a huge challenge for us there. Golden Tate is an extremely explosive player, great run after catch or run with the ball in his hands, whether it’s a reverse-type play or just a short pass or a deep pass, where he can get the ball in his hands and make things happen in open space. Certainly, tackling is an issue with him and obviously covering him. [They’re] two excellent, explosive players in the passing game. I think with the running back situation, you will see all of them in there as far as Reggie Bush, [Joique] Bell, [Theo] Riddick. Whatever the game is or the personal situation for that game, they do a good job using those guys in different capacities. I think Bell’s a very strong runner, a guy that can get downhill and runs hard and gets those tough yards. With both Bush and Riddick, when they are in there, the ability for them with their short space quickness to get the edge or bounce outside, along with their passing game skill set to be able to run routes and line up in empty formations. You’ve got to be prepared to handle them all over the field. That’s probably a good start right there.
Q: With all of the depth you have in your secondary, it must be pretty fun to game plan every week. You go into a game with the Colts and you see a guy like Kyle Arrington who you’re able to put on T.Y. Hilton and you are able to change things up almost every week depending on who you play. Is this the most depth you’ve had with your secondary? How does that allow you to game plan differently and how do you apply that each week?
MP: I think for us, obviously, [we’ve had] a set of weeks here where each offense is very challenging, very different. Certainly, Detroit has a whole different set of elements than Indianapolis had or Denver had, so they are extremely challenging to defend. These are very explosive, very productive offenses, so that’s a big challenge for us. I think as far as the defense in general, we are going to try and put everyone in the best position we can to match up with the position and defend the team that we are playing that week to the best of their ability. Certainly, we are going to try to use everybody we can, everybody that is active for the game, to have a role and to be out there and help us in some capacity, whether it’s from the defensive line to the linebackers to the DBs. The good thing I think right now is that we’re just trying to get better every week. We are trying to improve. We’re trying to build on the week before. The guys are doing a great job of really working extremely hard week-in and week-out to prepare for these offenses that we are seeing because they are so different but yet so dynamic. It’s different for us every week, and we’ve got to try to stop whatever it is that they are giving us.
Q: You’ve mentioned Calvin Johnson already and some of the skills he possesses. Is he the type of player where it’s a good idea to try to get physical with him at the line of scrimmage, or is that almost a losing proposition of sorts since he’s such a big physical guy himself?
MP: I think you obviously kind of hit it on the head. You have both sides of the coin with him. He’s a very big, physical, strong player that he’s good if you are up there on him, and he’s good if you are off of him. It’s a big challenge for us to try to see if we can get that to happen from either situation, get him stopped from either situation. I don’t think there’s really one definitive answer there that can say, ‘Hey, this is how you play this guy,’ because I think he’s certainly proved that he can defeat you whether you are on him, you’re off him, you’re doubling him, you’ve got three guys on him, you’ve got guys over the top [or] you’ve got guys underneath. I think he’s been extremely productive in all of those situations.