By Ashley Dunkak
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz does not take away too much from the team’s 40-32 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 4. What the Lions see when they face the Bears this week, he said, could be totally different than what Chicago did then or has done recently.
Part of the reason for the uncertainty is the presence of superstar receiver Calvin Johnson. Because teams game plan for him so specifically, they might very well use different schemes than they do against all other opponents.
“He’s a blessing because he’s such a great player and he affects the game, but it also is a bit of a wild card from a game plan preparation standpoint because what you see from a team the previous three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, half a season, isn’t necessarily what you’re going to get on Sunday,” Schwartz said to Karsch and Anderson of 97.1 The Ticket.
“A lot of scouting reports get thrown out the window as soon as the game starts because they don’t play the Lions with Calvin Johnson the way they played the team the week before, so it makes it a little bit harder sometimes to sort of put game plans together,” Schwartz continued. “Scott Linehan and the offensive staff really do a good job of being prepared for a lot of different things, and we’ve seen a lot of different sort of schemes, doubling him, sometimes it’s playing off in soft coverage, and you’ve got to do it different ways.”
Last time against Chicago, Johnson came away with just 44 yards on four catches, and whatever focus the Bears put on Johnson apparently helped out the rest of the Detroit offense. Fellow wide receiver Kris Durham racked up 58 yards on three catches, and tight end Brandon Pettigrew snagged seven balls for 54 yards.
Most importantly, running back Reggie Bush torched the Chicago defense for 139 yards on 18 carries.
Schwartz and the Lions do not mind Johnson being shut down as long as everyone else is sufficiently able to operate.
“The number one thing is we move the ball and score, and whoever’s doing that, it doesn’t really matter to us,” Schwartz said.
Defensively, the Lions might have their hands full with Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, who had been sidelined with a groin injury but is apparently well enough to start Sunday. Detroit will expect Cutler to be his normal self, but they will also be ready to take advantage of any lingering weaknesses.
“We’ll definitely assess what his ability is to move and things like that and adjust our game plan as it goes,” Schwartz said. “You always have to prepare for everybody being full speed, and then you can sort of adjust as you go along. We have a lot of respect for him. He’s made a lot of plays, he’s moved around in the pocket, bought some time for his receivers to get open, he’s a really good scrambler, and that’s a big part of his game. How much of that he’s going to be able to do we won’t really know until Sunday.
“If they feel confident enough for him to be out there as a starter, we expect him to be able to be Jay Cutler and do the things that he’s done in the past, so we’ll be ready,” Schwartz added.
The Lions are coming off their bye week, but the coach did not spend his time at home over the break watching football games. He likes to get away from work, and plus, it drives him nuts to watch games on normal television.
“A lot of time it’s frustrating for coaches to watch games on TV because the TV cameras follow the ball, and that’s not the view that we’re used to watching,” Schwartz said. “We’re used to watching all 22 guys. You can’t see which coverage they played. It gets frustrating sometimes when you’re listening to announcers and you don’t agree with their assessment of what happened on the play, so generally just turn the volume down and just have it on just to see what’s going on in the game, but most of the games I watch on TV are in my office with all 22 film because that’s the way we see the game. You’ve got to know what the coverage is. You’ve got to know what the situation is and everything else because it all affects us. It’s not just about following the football.”