No, Matthew Stafford won't be Detroit Lions' player-coach vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With nearly 50 years of NFL experience, Tom Brady and Bruce Arians should lick their lips to play a struggling and understaffed Detroit Lions defense that will likely have an NFL player on top for the first time on Saturday.
But the way Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford sees it, there's at least one silver lining to his team's COVID-19 losses.
"The only problem is you don't have a scouting report on the new man calling the games," said Stafford. "So we have that. A bit of that, as far as anyone can name it, there isn't a big book about it. So we have that advantage, I think."
That's about the only advantage the Lions have defensively against Brady, a six-time Super Bowl winner, and Arians, one of the most aggressive offensive coaches in the game.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady reacts after a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons on December 20, 2020 in Atlanta.
The Lions (5-9) could do without up to four defensive starters on Sunday - Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton and Desmond Trufant are in an injured reserve, and Jamie Collins has not trained in the past two days with a neck injury - and their top four Defense assistants are in quarantine after either testing positive for COVID-19 or because they have been in close contact with a confirmed case.
Interim Lions trainer Darrell Bevell, who has no COVID, is also in isolation, meaning the Lions on either side of the ball could do without their game callers.
"Obviously from the start of the season, even with coach (Matt) Patricia (was here), obviously something we had to plan for," Bevell said. "So there are contingency plans and every time something happens we make adjustments."
Bevell didn't name his fill-in play callers on Wednesday, but quarterbacks manager Sean Ryan is likely to take on the offensive duties.
Ryan has worked closely with Stafford for the past two seasons, but like available defense assistants Ty Warren, Tony Carter and Stephen Thomas, he has never played at any level.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford calls for his offense in the first half against the Panthers on Sunday, November 22, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Stafford, who is finishing his 12th NFL season, said he could bring the offense in and out of the games himself, but Lions need a coordinator to handle the intricacies of the offense.
"The way we do this crime with mixed staff and different people in different places for certain reasons, yes I mean I think we need a coordinator," he said. "If we had to go out there and throw the ball all over the court and we had no one physically able to call games, we could get away with it and try it. But I think we'd be in." Our best calling plays on this offensive and mixes and matches staff and gets matchups that we like. "
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While the Lions have been besieged by bad news for the past few weeks, from the sacking of Patricia and General Manager Bob Quinn last month to the sacking of specialty teams coordinator, Brayden Coombs, on Monday after turning rogue with a fake punt call Until this week the COVID outbreak that left the Lions covered with a coaching baton, Stafford said he and others have taken this season's "wild ride" by leaps and bounds.
"We all just have to be ready to adjust," said Stafford. "I kind of, it's been like this all season. Shoot, I was locked in a hotel room for a week not that long ago so we were all there and taking turns. It's not easy, it's not fun. It is Understandable. We're trying to do the right thing and protect everyone in this building, but at the same time it's difficult, yes, but there are a lot of teams in the league that have dealt with these things. We are just one need at this moment we make sure we are ready and willing to play well. "
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: No, the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford is not going to be a player-coach against Bucs
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