Know Your Enemy: Ty Schalter of Bleacher Report

You can take inspiration from the bleakest of moments. If that’s true, I’m about to get a ton of inspiration from the way the Titans are playing. This 0-2 start feels like 0-12. Ty Schalter knows what I’m talking about, as he has followed the Detroit Lions all his life.

Introduce yourself.

I’m Ty, a dedicated husband and outrageously busy sports dad. I’m a lifelong, born-and-bred, dyed-in-the wool Lions fan for reasons I’ll never know. The day after the Lions went 0-16, I poured my heart and soul into a Blogspot account. A few hardy souls liked the result, so I kept pouring. That thing is called The Lions in Winter.

A year ago, Bleacher Report asked me if I’d like to write about the rest of the NFL, too, and I did, so I do. It’s been more challenging, and more rewarding, than I could have imagined.

Is it still hard to get used to the idea that the Lions are a playoff contender?

Actually, I’ve believed in what Schwartz and Co. have been building from the first time I saw Matthew Stafford throw live. I even guaranteed the Lions would make the playoffs last summer! So no, it’s not hard to get used to the idea of the Lions as a playoff team–more like the inevitable result of what GM Martin Mayhew’s been doing from day one.

Will Mikel Leshoure be the answer at RB for the Lions?

It’s tough to say, because Lions fans didn’t get to see him play before he blew the Achilles. At the time, Schwartz called it a “gut punch” because Leshoure had been tearing up camp. In Leshoure’s preseason action, he showed he’s running hard, but the line had trouble opening holes for him.

He reminds me very much of former Lions and Jaguars running back James Stewart: size, speed, and a little bit of wiggle. If there’s daylight for him, he’ll make things happen.

Are the early-season interceptions a worry for Matthew Stafford or is it just an aberration?

It’s a worry, because they aren’t bad decisions or bad reads, he’s just not throwing the ball well. Excepting a couple games where he was coming off of injury, Stafford’s body has never betrayed him like this. He’s having trouble putting the usual zip on deep throws, and is overcompensating by puuting too much mustard on the short stuff. I (and others) have suggested he’s something less than 100%, health-wise.

Is the reputation the Lions and particularly Ndamukong Suh have of being dirty overblown?

Yes and no. The Lions play to and through the whistle, absolutely, and Suh has let his emotions get the better of him.

Some of the “dirty” offenses have just been a result of being really, really strong. He was once flagged for a game-changing personal foul because he pushed an out-of-the-pocket-and-scrambling-for-yardage Jay Cutler to the ground with one hand . . . I guess it was too mean or something?

What drives me nuts is the rampant national assertion that the Lions’ offseason troubles with DUI/marijuana arrests somehow makes them bad at playing football. [Zach note: With their great track record, you can see why people were dubious about the Lions growing on last year’s great season.]

Any words of wisdom from a member of Lions Nation to Titans Cul-De-Sac (small but fierce) to help get through this dark time?

Well, it can’t possibly get any worse for y’all than it was for us. 0-16 at the end of fifty years without a championship (and only one playoff win) was hard to swallow. But, it gave us a fresh start, and the foundation for success we have today.

Worst-case scenario, watching CJ2K struggle behind that line reminds me of being a Lions fan in the 90s, with Barry Sanders doing the same. We had some ups and downs those years . . . it, at the very least, was never dull.

What’s your game-day beer of choice?

At home, Founder’s Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale is go-to gameday beer, but at Ford Field I’m lucky to sit very close to the Atwater Block kiosk. Their Dirty Blone Ale and Grand Circus IPA are both pretty decent, though their best beer (Vanilla Java Porter) is not kegged for gameday. Boo.

Thanks go to Ty for doing the interview along with his usual Bleacher Report responsibilities. Check him out at The Lions in Winter as well.

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