Earlier this week I exchanged questions and answers with Zac Snyder from the SideLion Report blog in preparation for the Thanksgiving Day Pats/Lions game. You can read my questions and his answers below. You can read the questions he asked me and my responses by clicking here. Adding some intrigue to this match-up is the fact that Tom Brady sat out of both practices this week and is listed as “questionable” in the injury report. I fully expect him to play, but you can get former 49ers QB Steve Young’s take on how a foot injury affects a quarterback by clicking here. Now onto the Q&A.
1. What are Lions fans feelings on Matthew Stafford? Every time he seems to be cementing himself as a legitimate NFL QB he gets injured.
Zac Snyder: I get the feeling that most Lions fans are like me and feel disappointed and frustrated. The hardest part is that there really isn’t anything or anyone to blame. Stafford has the talent to become a great NFL quarterback and I believe he is actually ahead of the curve considering how little he has been able to play over his first two years. We have heard of examples like Troy Aikman and Phil Simms that had injury problems in their first couple years but went on to have great careers. Hopefully that is how the Stafford story turns out but we can’t be sure that it will.
2. Many of the Lions’ losses have been by a touchdown or less. What hump has this team yet to get over that would turn those losses into wins?
ZS: For one, the NFL is full of games decided by a touchdown or less. It is the nature of the game and so it is hard to point to margin of defeat and say the Lions are a better team. Even so, I believe they are a better team but one of the most glaring problems has been penalties. The Lions have continually put themselves in bad positions with penalties that back up their offense and aid the opposing offense. The Lions still have a talent deficiency compared to a lot of the league but some of that is out of their control. The penalty situation is within their control and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
3. Which newcomer has made the biggest impact on the Lions?
ZS: Jahvid Best had a huge impact early in the season but he got injured against the Vikings in week three and turf toe injuries to both feet have really cut into his production. He had five touchdowns in the first two games and hasn’t found the end zone since. Ndamukong Suh is the guy that has had the greatest impact throughout his first season in Detroit. One of the local beat writers was trying to cub enthusiasm after the draft because defensive tackles usually need time to adjust to the NFL game but Suh has been solid from day one. He still has room to improve, which is a scary thought, but he has lived up to the hype and should be a Pro Bowler this season.
4. What do you think the Lions’ strategy will be to defeat the Patriots?
ZS: The Lions have really struggled to run the ball and I don’t see that changing against Vince Wilfork. They will look to exploit the Patriots’ secondary with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Brandon Pettigrew. They also like to use their backs as receivers, although that game plan may be limited depending on the status of Jahvid Best. Defensively, the Lions game plan starts with their front four’s ability to rush the passer. They will need to get to Tom Brady and hope he makes an uncharacteristic mistake. Rushing the passer without a blitz will be key to keep bodies in coverage and give Brady fewer holes to find down field.
5. Game prediction?
ZS: There was a time when the Lions really rose to the occasion when on the national stage but they aren’t back to the point where they can pull off an upset like this. The Thanksgiving losing streak hits seven: Patriots 31, Lions 16