We try to do a little Q&A with the opposing team’s blogger each week and with the upcoming rematch against the Lions, Side Lion Reports’ Zac Snyder took a few moments of his time to answer a couple of quick questions in our Blogger Exchange Program.
Bear Goggles On: It looks like the Bears catch a break with Shaun Hill sidelined with a busted finger and Drew Stanton getting the call on Sunday. Give Bears fans who might not be familiar with Stanton a little preview of what to expect from him. What are his strengths? Weaknesses? How does Stanton impact the Lions offensive game plan?
Side Lion Report: Stanton’s strengths are more of the intangible variety. He is one of those tough grinder guys that get labeled as “gamers”. That is all well and good if there is legitimate NFL talent behind it, but Stanton has mired as a third string quarterback for a reason. He does have the ability to make a couple plays with his feet but the game plan will be limited with Stanton under center. I expect a lot of short passes and an attempt at running the football as Stanton is asked just to manage the game.
BGO: You’ve got to love what you’ve gotten out of Ndamukong Suh this season. Has he met your expectations? What can the Bears expect from the Lions D on Sunday? Can they get to Jay Cutler?
SLR: Ndamukong Suh’s performance has not only met my expectation, it has exceeded it. He saw double teams right off the bat in the preseason and it hasn’t fazed him in the least. I probably would have laughed at anyone that predicted he would put up eight sacks on the year but that is what he has so far. The Lions’ plan is always to use their front four to generate pressure on the quarterback. It has worked for much of the year and they will have to take advantage of the Bears’ weak offensive line to have a chance to win on Sunday. I think they will be able to get to Cutler, hopefully it leads to the zero touchdown and four interception Cutler as opposed to the four touchdown and zero interception Cutler.
BGO: Devin Hester seems to have gotten his groove back. Will the Lions kick to him? Can their special teams bottle up the Bears potent return game?
SLR: Special teams have been better under Danny Crossman than they were under Stan Kwan. They have a more aggressive approach this year with less directional kicking so Hester should get at least a couple chances in the return game. It seems to me that the Lions are doing a better job pinning opposing offenses deep in their own end after punts so it will be key for the Lions offense to at least put themselves in the middle of the field rather than giving Hester the opportunity to field a punt away from the shadow of his own end zone.
BGO: You asked me about how the Bears season may have gone differently if Calvin Johnson had “completed the process of the catch.” It seems to me that the he was starting his touchdown celebration when he lost grip of the ball in the end zone. Here’s a 2-part question. Has Calvin done a better job of hanging onto the ball? Do you think the Lions season would have gone differently if that call went the other way and the Lions had won that Week 1 matchup?
SLR: Stafford was already hurt at that point so I can’t confidently say the record would look much better than it does now. What I am certain of is that the feeling around the team would be much better. If the Lions win that week one game in Chicago then their road losing streak would have ended there and we wouldn’t have had to endure the shame of breaking the record the Lions set a few years back. It just feels like piling on at this point with one extra negative hanging over the organization that could have been gone.
As for Calvin Johnson individually, I was somewhat critical of him early in the season but he has had a great year. Even with Stafford out for much of the year he is in the top ten in terms of receptions and receiving yardage and trails only Dwayne Bowe as the touchdown receptions leader.
BGO: Give me your prediction for the game.
SLR: I was ready to pick the Lions in the upset but I can’t do that now that Drew Stanton will get the start at quarterback. Bears 23, Lions 13
I answered a few of Zac’s questions, so be sure to check Side Lion Report for my Q&A.
Thank you for the insight Zac.