INDIANAPOLIS — Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz touched on a number of topics in speaking to the media Thursday at the NFL Combine, and not surprisingly, the former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator drew quite a bit upon his experiences in Nashville in regards to his new job with the Lions.
Here are some of the highlights from Schwartz’s interview.
Q: On the consensus among the Lions to draft QB Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick last year in the draft:
Schwartz: Two times, I’ve been around this type of consensus for a player. One was Chris Johnson in Tennessee, where the defensive coaches are saying, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy we need to pick.’ Usually, every position coach has a guy that they’re saying, ‘We need that guy.’ And the decision-makers are making those hard choices on who they’re actually pulling the trigger on.
But in that draft, it was a tremendous consensus of the scouts, the front offices and the coaches and everybody, and it’s turned out really well. And it was the same thing last year with Matt. When it all came time, we evaluated them collectively and also individually. … We all came together and everybody felt the same way and it made it an easy decision to make.
Q: On whether he and the Lions might be interested in some Titans veterans like Keith Bulluck or Kyle Vanden Bosch who could soon hit free agent market.
Schwartz: I think when you look at free agents, there’s a lot of different things you do. You look at what they do on tape, and their injury history and things like that. Whether it’s me or somebody else that was at a team that had players, you know a little bit more about them, they way they practice, you know the way they prepare, and you know a little bit about them personally, and those kinds of things. It makes you feel a little bit stronger about your evaluation, but it’s not just me and Tennessee. We have a lot of different coaches that came from a lot of different places.
Q: On his replacement as defensive coordinator with the Titans, Chuck Cecil, who went through a rough first year:
Schwartz: He knows what he’s doing. The scheme is the same. Everybody is going to put their own little personal touches on things, but there’s an adjustment in the past, there is an adjustment, players getting used to you and the way you do things. I said a long time ago, I think it was after the 2002 season, that the biggest mistake I made from ’01 to ’02 was trying to do things exactly the way Gregg did them. I sort of said, ‘OK, this is a little stamp that I’m going to put on it.’
I think whether it’s Chuck or anybody in the league, he’ll end up putting his stamp on it. It’s easier to say that going into your first year than it is to do that. It’s a little bit easier in your second year.
Q: On Florida QB Tim Tebow’s challenge of making it in the NFL and his throwing motion:
Schwartz: People talk about Philip Rivers, saying, "Hey, he’s got a delivery that needs to be changed. And that will keep him from being a good NFL player." Well, obviously that was wrong. Kerry Collins had a really big loop in his delivery and he’s throwing exactly the same now as he did when he came out, and he’s had a lot of production in this league.
I think maybe a little bit too much is made when you’re look at a quarterback. You’re looking at accuracy, at production, at winning and those kinds of things, maybe more than the location of his elbow.
Q: On whether the Lions, with the second overall pick, can take Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy and use him as he did Albert Haynesworth with the Titans:
Schwartz: You’re comparing a player who has never played in the NFL, you’re comparing him to the highest paid defensive tackle in the league and has had a long history of success. But I think when you look at those guys, you’re looking at the skillset that they bring. Both of them have size, and really good quickness, really good use of hands. All the indications are that they can be impact players. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.
Q: On what needs to improve for the Lions after going 2-14 in 2009:
Schwartz: The No. 1 thing is my blood pressure. I didn’t do well. I’ve always admired coaches like Tom Landry and Tony Dungy because they keep their cool on the sideline and you never see them change expressions. When I was in Tennessee, I was that guy. I was even-keeled and didn’t change a whole lot. Last year, I wasn’t really able to be that way. I think a big part of that is just increasing the talent level on our team and getting to the point where players fit exactly what we want philosophically and also scheme-wise.
Then all of a sudden, all those other things [take care of themselves]. If I prioritize and say a cornerback is No. 1 on our list, or a receiver or a linebacker, then you get away from what is most important. I think the most important thing is making good decisions and not saying this is our No. 1 need or our No. 2 need. They’re all needs. I said this last year, our No. 1 need is talent, and it still is.
If we continue to make good decisions and put players in place around what we have, then I think my blood pressure go down and my heart doctor will cut my Lipitor dosage down.