*With the Ravens preparing to take on the Detroit Lions this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *
BR.com gives you Lions head coach – and Baltimore native – Jim Schwartz and receiver Calvin Johnson.
Head coach Jim Schwartz
How many tickets you are giving out for Sunday's game?
Schwartz: "Well, there's an issue there because I don't give tickets to anybody that's not rooting for my team. And that started way back with the Titans because I got Shang-Hied – I had some people that came down to Tennessee one time and professed their love for the Titans and how much they were Eddie George fans and couldn't wait to see the Titans. I had some people see them at the game with big Ravens' foam fingers and wearing some purple stuff. So, I always had a rule: If you're getting tickets from me then you've got to root for the team that I'm with. So, that cuts quite a few of them out. My family can switch allegiance, and I have a sister that's a season ticket holder. I'm still a season ticket holder with the Ravens. I have two PSL's – they're suite tickets. My father-in-law goes just about every game, but everybody in my family, when it comes time, they all switch there jersey's on game day and they root for the Titans or the Lions, or whoever I'm with. They're will be a bunch, but a lot of them already have tickets because a lot of them are Ravens fans the other fifteen weeks of the season."
Is your family is allowed to wear Orioles gear?
Schwartz:"Orioles? Yeah, I'm good with the Orioles. (laughter) I don't make my living… Hopefully this is a place when it's all said and done that my kids can call home. My kids will always be Tigers fans, they're already Red Wings fans and Pistons fans and Lions fans, but the Baltimore Orioles will always still be in me. No matter what happens, no matter where I am, I'll always check out the Maryland Terrapin basketball team and the Baltimore Orioles in baseball."
Do Matthew Stafford and Daunte Culpepper bring the same tool set as quarterbacks?
Schwartz:"I don't know, they're significantly different. Daunte has, obviously, more experience. He's been around the league a lot more, he's used his legs a lot more over the course of his career. I think the one thing that they both have in common is, both guys can wake up at about 3 o'clock in the morning and can throw a perfect spiral. And that's something that they're both gifted with. But, they both get it done [in] a little different way."
How close are the Lions to "turning the corner?"
Schwartz:"I don't know, hopefully this weekend. I think that if you look at that – if you look at your goal of turning the corner – then you're always going to be chasing a goal that may not be productive. I think what we have to do is, we have to concentrate on improving. And if we do that, then we'll turn the corner. Anybody that has heard me speak over the last nine months, or whatever, I've famously compared it to losing weight. If your goal is to lose weight, there are a lot of different ways you can do it. You can go on one of those weekend spa trips, and wrap yourself in cellophane, and drink cayenne pepper water and drop ten pounds in a weekend. But it's coming right back, because your goal was to lose weight. And what I've said since we got here is, rather than saying our goal is to lose weight, let's say our goal is to get on the treadmill every day. Our goal is to improve our diet every day. And if we do those, then we look back [in] six months, a year, whatever it is, and we've lost weight. And the weight will stay off. So, when you build a team, I think that you need to keep that in perspective, and you can't take quick fixes. You have to build for the long term, and that doesn't change our objective every week; which is to win on Sunday. But, there is some long term range through that."
What has your philosophy been from the very beginning and has it changed at all?
Schwartz: "No, I think we have been consistent in our message. You know, obviously we haven't been productive as far as wins go, but that hasn't discouraged us and it hasn't changed our approach. I think the one thing that has happened here is I looked at this franchise for, you know whatever years it was before I got here, [and] there were a lot of different changes in philosophy from year to year. One year it was 'The Greatest Show on Turf,' the next year it was, 'We're going to run the Denver Stretch,' and the next year it was… You know, it was just changed way too often. And I think that you need to have a philosophy, [and] you need to stick with that philosophy. Are you going to be that right away? You know, no. I mean, there are going to be some things that… You're not going to be able to do everything that you want in the first year. But you can't panic because of that, you can't let the scoreboard or the record cause you to change course midstream."
WR Calvin Johnson
Why do you pose such a match-up problem for a lot of cornerbacks in this league?
Johnson: "Just a combination of size, and speed and being physical. You know, being physical is a big part."
Are you excited about going against Domonique Foxworth and a rookie on the other side in Lardarius Webb?
Johnson: "Yeah, I mean, yeah. I played [against] Foxworth, I want to say I played him in college, I might have played him one time when he was with Denver. I can't really recall too well. But definitely, like we were talking about earlier, I like our matchup that we have."
Is Culpepper still a strong-armed quarterback, as far as throwing the deep ball?
Johnson: "Yeah, Daunte hasn't lost that at all. Daunte came in this season in great shape, so Daunte, he still has it."
What is it like playing for Coach Schwartz? Do you notice him being a little more excited about coming home to Baltimore?
Johnson:"I mean, coach is coach. We haven't noticed any change in him. He goes about his business like he does, and he isn't any more wired up for this game than he is any other game."
Will it be a smooth transition with Culpepper getting the start this weekend?
Johnson: "It'll be smooth. We still practice with [Culpepper] even though Matt [Stafford] was the starter [for] the first 10 or whatever weeks. So, we still got some time in with [Culpepper], and I played with him last year, so I know what to expect."