Jeff Riger: Martin Mayhew Overheard!
Friday morning while the Lions were taking the field for another day of training camp, GM Martin Mayhew was taking the podium to address his new “playoff bound” team with the media. Below are Mayhew’s answers to some of the more pressing questions that surround Detroit football…
What was your philosophy in free agency?
Mayhew: “I think the idea is to get the best players you can get. When you have needs and a limited amount of cap room you have to make decisions and figure out a way to fill as many needs as possible with the room that you have. That was our goal going in, we knew we had several areas to address and we were able to address most of those and we will keep looking.”
So many people have predicted that the Lions will be headed to the playoffs, what are your predictions for this team?
Mayhew: “I’m not really into the whole projection game, we are here to win football games, we’re here to be productive and there is no need to talk about it. It’s time to stop talking about winning and it’s time to start winning and that is what our goal is this year.”
What are your early impressions of the defense?
Mayhew: “I like our line backing core, we got one that is 24, one that is 25 and one that is 26 (years old). So those guys are young guys, they all have upside, they all can get improved as players, they all have the athleticism that we look for in the position and they all have play making ability. I like our front 7, we have a good defensive line and good line backing core with a bunch of young guys in the mix and our secondary is coming together. They have to gel; there are a lot of new players in that group. They have to start to work together and communicate well. I think it’s all coming together on defense.”
This team has been unable to compete for a very long time, especially since 2009 when you took over. How have things progressed and what are the expectations for this season?
Mayhew: “I think we are at a point now where we expect to challenge for our division and that’s what most good teams expect to do. We are at that point! But it’s the first week of August so I think we have to be measured and keep making continued improvement every day of training camp. We are still trying to add talent to our roster, our guys are still gelling as a football team, there are a lot of new faces. So we have a lot of work to do.”
The additions of linebacker Stephen Tulloch and cornerback Eric Wright should be big for this team this season however why were they signed to just one year deals?
Mayhew: “I would have loved to have signed Tulloch and Wright to multiyear deals. But those guys wanted to do one year deals, those guys felt like there would be a better market for them next year and so we signed them to one year contracts. We may be able to address that before the season is over or shortly after the season and try to get those guys locked up (longer term). But we will see how it goes.”
Everybody seems to be talking about quarterback Matt Stafford, how concerned are you about his inability to stay on the field the last two seasons?
Mayhew: “He’s had a good camp so far, he and Calvin seem to be really on the same page so I’m excited about that. We got some good depth on offense and our skill position so it’s really coming together offensively.”
How devastating is the injury to first round pick Nick Fairley?
Mayhew: “It does hurt him and if you go back looking, he had no offseason and no training camp so he’s coming from Auburn to the field and playing against NFL players so it sets him back some. This will be a good time for him to work on his cardio. He was in great shape coming in but he can get in better condition, he can work in the classroom. We’ll take advantage of this time to make Nick a better player.”