This week, we had the privilege to spend time with Zac Snyder, the editor at Fansided.com’s Detroit Lions site, Sidelionreport.com.
Our Q&A is below. Enjoy …
Q. Calvin Johnson isn’t having a poor year by NFL standards, but he hasn’t reached the bar he has set for himself, especially when it comes to getting in the end zone. What do the Lions need to do to get him the ball for touchdowns?
A. Calvin Johnson has no stated goal for number of touchdowns in a season. He did say that he would like to have 100 receiving yards in every game he plays as that is the level he feels he needs to say he helped the team. He has hit the 100-yard mark in five of nine games this season but does have a per game average of 108.2, a hair over three yards more than he averaged last season. He’s also catching 6.7 passes per game as opposed to 6.0 per game a year ago. Calvin isn’t getting into the end zone himself but he’s often a big reason why the Lions are in position to score a touchdown, even if it ultimately goes to someone else. Not getting tackled inside the five yard line is one thing that could change that would result in more touchdowns for Calvin.
Q. With the Lions running game in the crapper, the Lions are very much like the Packers in that they have to rely on moving the ball through the air. The Packers have had success in winning games that way, the Lions not so much … what’s the difference?
A. The Lions have made a bigger effort to run the ball this year but that has sometimes been met with resistance from fans. That being said, the Lions have a 4.1 yards per carry average to rank in the middle of the NFL pack so it isn’t like they are totally inept – they just aren’t always successful and the opportunities they take to run the ball are often predictable. The good news is that the Lions have ten rushing touchdowns after totally only nine a year ago. The difference between the Lions and Packers in their passing attacks is the level of consistency. The Lions have been terribly slow starters and often can’t find their way in the passing game until it seemingly opens up in the second half as they try to pull their way out of a hole.
Q. We all remember “the stomp” in last year’s Thanksgiving Day game won by the Packers. Do you think that incident will play any kind of motivational role in Sunday’s game?
A. The biggest role the incident will play is for the FOX Network. They will probably beat the dead horse to super-death and show the replay several times between the start of the pregame show to the final whistle of the game. I don’t think the Lions or Suh need any motivation behind simply wanting to beat the Packers.
Q. Aaron Rodgers is on pace again for a possible run at another MVP. Do the Lions have the answer to slowing down Rodgers and what do you think is their best tactic – stop the run first and then get after Mr. Rodgers? Or just pin the defensive linemen’s ears back and let them get the pressure on Rodgers?
A. The Lions look no further than the last time they beat the Packers at Ford Field in 2010. Rodgers averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt, threw an interception and was sacked twice before ultimately being knocked out with a concussion. The Lions have to take advantage of a beat up offensive line to put pressure on Rodgers like they did in 2010 in hopes of forcing some errors.
Q. The Lions have their backs against the wall and are in desperation mode if they feel they have any chance of making the playoffs. Are the playoffs still being mentioned or are the Lions looking more at being spoilers?
A. Talk linking the Lions and the playoffs is mostly centered around the thought that last week’s loss to the Vikings closed the door. It is technically still possible but we realize it will take running the table or losing just once more. Considering the remaining schedule, that is unlikely and fans know it.
Q. With the disappointing start to the Lions’ season, is Jim Schwartz in an danger of losing his job?
A. I’m starting to hear a few fans question the coaching staff but most of that is directed at the coordinators, particularly Scott Linehan. A more knee-jerk organization might consider it but even then I have a hard time seeing how anyone could call for Jim Schwartz’s head this early.
Q. Give us your take on this game and, of course, give us a final score.
A. The Packers are a solid team while the Lions are a box of chocolates. I have no idea what we’ll get so all I can do is predict what I feel we’re most likely to get: Packers 27, Lions 20.