Coach Mike Tomlin offers some insight on the Steelers' opponent this week – the Detroit Lions.
Q. The Detroit Lions have a new coach, a new quarterback and a new attitude. What impact has Coach Jim Schwartz had on the Lions?
A. It's obvious they're not toting the baggage from what happened a year ago, and in order to do that you need new people, new leadership. He's done a nice job with that, and he's also acquired some veteran leaders from other places – guys like Larry Foote – along with some quality high-round draft picks. I think it's important as they're moving forward that they don't carry the baggage from a year ago, and they have enough new faces that what happened in Detroit last year is an afterthought to them.
Q. Does it surprise you that Larry Foote is their leading tackler?
A. Not at all. He's an instinct football player, the guy in the middle of a 4-3 defense, and those guys usually get an opportunity to make a bunch of plays. On perimeter runs, their outside linebackers spill the ball back to him, and he's able to scrape clean and track the ball carrier. Quite frankly, he should be leading them in tackles.
Q. The last time these teams met was in 2005, and the Steelers still have six players who were defensive starters who played in that game, and that doesn't include Deshea Townsend and James Harrison. Detroit doesn't have one defensive player from that year left on their roster. How important is stability in the NFL?
A. Continuity is big, but continuity is only big if there is success. The reality is if you're unsuccessful in the National Football League, change comes with that. That's an indicator right there. Stability has its place, but stability is only functional if you're successful. Stability and losing don't go hand-in-hand.
Q. What do you see when you watch Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper on tape?
A. I see a strong-armed guy who's capable of hitting any spot on the field. His arm strength is unique. He's a big, strong guy similar to a Ben Roethlisberger and then some from a size standpoint. He's a tough guy to get on the ground. My experience with him in the past has been that when you send secondary blitzers – blocked or not – they have a tough time getting this man on the ground. He's increasingly dangerous as plays unfold and break down, and so we have a lot of respect for that veteran football player.
Q. What do you see when you look at Lions running back Kevin Smith? Does he remind you of somebody?
A. He's very similar to Chicago's Matt Forte in that he's a little faster than you think, he's got great vision, great feet, he finishes off runs well. He probably doesn't have a distinguishing characteristic – like Chris Johnson of Tennessee is very fast – but he does enough things well that he's a very good football player.