When the Detroit Lions started the season they never envisioned having a 1-5 record at the bye week, but a handful of costly plays, ill- advised penalties and injuries to key players have placed them into the position they are now, at the bottom of the NFC North division, yet again. The bye week could not have come at a better time because help is on the way. Matt Stafford, who hasn’t played since hurting his throwing shoulder in the season opener, is targeting the October 31 game against the Redskins for his return. He and his favorite target, Calvin Johnson, who has also has an ailing shoulder, will have an extra week of preparation to get back to full strength. Detroit’s poor record isn’t necessarily Shaun Hill’s fault because they have competed to the end in every game, as all but one of the team’s losses have come by eight points or less. There is a reason why the Lions are in their usual last-place spot in the NFC North. They lead the NFL in penalties per game. If Stafford comes back healthy, the Lions will have a chance to crawl out of their division’s basement, but first they must quit beating themselves.
Matthew Stafford joined 106.7 the Fan in DC to talk about how he is feeling, how the team is able to play each game competitively despite their losing record, and what his take is on how the NFL is going about punishing first-time offenders for helmet-to-helmet contact.
How he is feeling:
“I’m doing good. I’m feeling better… I’ve been getting week by week and practiced a little bit last week and hopefully practice a lot more this week and then if it feels good and it is getting better then I am going to try and get out there on the 31st.”
How the team is able to play each game competitively despite their losing record:
“We expect to win just like every team in the NFL expects to win every time we go out and like you said, we have been in every single game that we’ve played, had a chance to win a lot of them and win the first and second game of the season if it weren’t for the ‘rule’. We’ve been playing really tough. We have got to be a little bit smarter and make a couple of more plays and hopefully those losses will turn into wins for us here in the 2nd half of the season.”
What he attributes the team’s improvement from last season to now:
“I think it is a little bit of both. I think we went out there this offseason and got some better personnel. We got Jahvid Best at running back, Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler tight end and receiver, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams on the D-Line and went out and got some guys that can really help us out and then for a lot of us, it is our 2nd year in the same system and being able to go out there and understand what our system is and what its about and how we can attack defenses and how on defense we can attack other offenses. That is kind of I think one of the big reasons why.”
What the process is like in his trying to rehab from an injury and get back out onto the field:
“It’s tough. It is something that I really didn’t have to deal with in college and I never missed a game in college and my first year in the NFL I am getting dinged up both years. So it is pretty frustrating but at the same time I understand that it is part of the game and I’m going to have a lot of games from here on out where I am healthy and playing well so I can just trying to learn as much as I can, stay into it and I have been looking for a return day for a long time and hopefully it will be this 31st.”
What he has learned while he has been sitting watching Shaun Hill and the offense that will help him once he returns:
“First of all, a pretty good guy to watch. Shaun Hill probably has got a little bit more style than I do, a little bit more conservative with the ball probably but in a way it has made our offense really good. So I have got to understand that I have got to take some of his game and put it into mine and at the same time it has been a growing process for a leader, you know, I’m not out there making plays with my teammates so I have got to find a new way to lead and try to become a little bit more vocal and let guys know where I am coming from and where I think we need to be.”
What his take is on how the NFL is going about punishing first-time offenders for helmet-to-helmet contact:
“I don’t think anything should be done for guys that make big hits, but for guys that are – you have got a receiver coming across the middle concentrating on you bring the crown of your helmet up under somebody’s chin and knock a guy out…I don’t know what the punishment should be but something should happen whether it be a penalty or a fine or something like that. It is not really my place to say, but with as big as fast and as strong as these guys are today I don’t think there is a whole lot of good that is going to come from guys getting free shots on other guys’ heads running full-speed. I don’t care how good your helmet is or anything like those guys are going to get knocked out. If they are getting knocked out by getting hit in the chest or a shoulder to the head or something like that than that is football. But when its helmet-to-helmet on guys that aren’t looking it’s a recipe for disaster.”
Tags: Detroit Lions, former #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, from Texas, has been out since the first game, helmet-to-helmet contact, injured his shoulder during the first game of the season, Matt Stafford, Matt Stafford is expected to return October 31, NFC North, NFL Football, Roger Goodell, Stafford returns on Halloween, The LIons have started to play like a real team, UGA Bulldogs