Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz held a conference call with the local media Wednesday morning and discussed the two teams and the similarities he sees.
“[These] are two teams that both have good young quarterbacks, both in their third year,” Schwartz said. “A lot of similarities in what Tampa’s doing to build its defensive line and how we’ve built our defensive line here. I think this is a good matchup."
“The same year we drafted Ndamukong Suh, a pick later, Tampa drafted Gerald McCoy, who we also thought very highly of."
“This year their first pick was [Adrian] Clayborn from Iowa. And then they came back in the second round and took Da’Quan Bowers, so they’ve drafted three guys in the last couple of years, we drafted Ndamukong Suh, we also traded for Corey Williams, signed Kyle Vanden Bosch, we traded for Lawrence Jackson, we drafted Willie Young and Nick Fairley."
“Both teams have devoted a lot of resources to the defensive line and I think when you’re building a defense that’s a good place to start.”
Since both came from the same draft, 2009 (Stafford the overall No. 1, Freeman as the 17th pick), it is inevitable comparisons will be made about the two.
“I think when it’s all said and done with both of those guys, when their careers are over, no one is going to be talking about what they accomplished in year one through year two,” Schwartz said. “They’ll be talking about what they did in the other years, because both of those guys are going to have long careers, both are going to lead their teams to big wins and playoff wins and things like that. So what they’ve accomplished so far is they’ve set themselves up to have a great career."
“They’ve had some ups and downs their first two years, Matt’s had some injuries, but what they really did in those first two, it’s hard to talk about what they’ve accomplished because the main thing for a quarterback is winning games and getting to the playoffs and winning playoff games and championships and things like that. Ultimately that’s what quarterbacks are judged by. I think both of those guys are in good position to do that in the future.”
One of the most anticipated matchups will be Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib facing Lion’s star receiver Calvin Johnson. Schwartz loves the things Johnson brings to that position.
There are a lot of wider receivers that are big, there are a lot of wide receivers that are fast, and a lot wide receivers that have good hands,” Schwartz said. “A lot of wide receivers that are hard, conscientious workers, and Calvin [Johnson] embodies all those things. He’s one of our hardest workers. He’s is a physical mismatch. He has great speed and hands, great awareness on the field and he fits very well with the other players we have. He’s a guy that at anytime can break out and make a big play and with our quarterback and other offensive skill players he fits very well into what we’re trying to do offensively.”
The similarities between the two teams run deep. In the 2010 draft the Lions selected Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick of the draft and the Buccaneers took Gerald McCoy one selection later.
Schwartz took time to speak about both players.
He’s [Suh] obviously a good player,” Schwartz said. “The first in half a century or so to be first-team All Pro at defensive tackle as a rookie. Usually when you have rookie defensive lineman, you’re talking about how he played better than his numbers indicated. Well, Ndamukong had great numbers to go along with the way he played. He also left room for improvement. He’s a much better player now than he was last year.
“[McCoy] needs to be the player that Tampa wants him to be. And he needs to develop into his player. They’re two completely different players, two completely different styles, two guys that we thought highly of. I’m sure Tampa thought highly of both guys. McCoy was hurt at the end of the year and wasn’t able to finish but he played very well. Usually when you have defensive linemen, you look at the film and say, 'He didn’t quite get that sack or have the production that he could have had.' I think McCoy looks very good through the preseason and he’s healthy now and is on his way to an outstanding career.”