Notebook: Schwartz Sticking with Stafford

Lions coach Jim Schwartz stands behind the decisions to draft quarterback Matthew Stafford first overall and to start him Week 1.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz stands behind the decisions to draft quarterback Matthew Stafford first overall and to start him Week 1.

Stafford is 0-2, with one touchdown, five interceptions and a 40.5 passer rating. He was tied with the Panthers' Jake Delhomme for most interceptions and ranked last in passer rating through Sunday.

The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez fifth overall. He's 2-0, with two touchdowns, one interception and a 91.3 passer rating, 10th best in the NFL through Sunday. But Sanchez and Stafford are in much different situations. The Jets went 9-7 last season. The Lions went 0-16.

"I'm not going to cover that ground, where we went in the draft," Schwartz said. "We liked both quarterbacks. We thought Matt was the right player to lead this team. We still do. And I think when it's all said and done, we're going to be very happy with that decision."

Stafford beat out veteran Daunte Culpepper in the exhibition season. Culpepper threw no interceptions in three exhibitions and completed a higher percentage of his passes. Stafford threw four interceptions in four exhibitions but made bigger plays.

Asked if Culpepper's experience would have made a difference in the first two games, Schwartz said: "It's too much of a hypothetical. Is experience good? Sure, experience is good. Does it make a difference? You can't say that, and I'm really not going to go there with that."

Schwartz declined to describe the length of Stafford's leash, though when he named him the starting quarterback, he said Stafford wouldn't have to look over his shoulder.

"I'm not going to sort of put ourselves anywhere past this week when it comes to that," Schwartz said. "I have a lot of confidence in Matt's ability, not only as a player but his ability to lead this team and ability to help us win."


  • Linebacker Ernie Sims suffered a shoulder injury late in Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Vikings. He dove out of bounds and landed awkwardly when quarterback Tarvaris Jackson completed a 14-yard pass to running back Chester Taylor on fourth down. Jackson took a knee three times to end the game afterward. Schwartz called the injury "fairly significant" but said the Lions didn't know how long Sims would be out. "Whether it's a week-to-week thing, whether it's longer than that, we'll find out more in the next couple days -- maybe not even the next couple days," Schwartz said. "It might be something that maybe takes a little bit of time to sort of see where it is. But it's not a day-to-day thing."
  • Are the Lions the team that jumped out to a 10-0 lead Sunday against the Vikings? Or are they the team that was outscored the rest of the game, 27-3? Schwartz answered his own questions.
    "You look at the game, you can find a lot of positives," Schwartz said. "You look at the game, you can find a lot of negatives. In other words, the answer is, we're somewhere in between." How do the Lions become what they want to be? "We need to learn to play with the lead," Schwartz said. "We need to have that instinct to go ahead and finish it and not sort of wait for something bad to happen."

Player Notes:

  • LB Ernie Sims suffered a significant shoulder injury Sunday, but the Lions don't know how long he will be out. It seems like it will be weeks.
  • LB DeAndre Levy is a candidate to replace Sims. If he starts, the Lions could have five rookies in the starting lineup.
  • S Marquand Manuel said he was a little beaten-up but fine. He left the game twice Sunday, with an injury to each knee, but returned.
  • DT Sammie Hill drew praise from coach Jim Schwartz, who said he was starting based on merit, not need.
  • LB Julian Peterson played better this week than last week, when he struggled at New Orleans and got an earful from the coaching staff.

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