No Suh, same out of control Lions
Without Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions are still the same undisciplined football team, one that has far too many self-inflicted wounds to be considered a serious player in the NFC playoff race.
The Lions played Sunday night at New Orleans without Suh, who served the first of a two-game suspension for stomping on the arm of a Green Bay Packers lineman on Thanksgiving Day. And the Lions committed enough stupid penalties to make it clear Suh isn’t the only problem. The Bad Boy Detroit Pistons from the late 80’s and early 90’s must be smiling somewhere.
In a 31-17 loss at the Superdome, the Lions committed 11 penalties for 107 yards. It reflects on one man and it’s not Suh. Head coach Jim Schwartz has to be held responsible for not controlling the play of his team on the field.
“We're undisciplined. Undisciplined. Undisciplined,” Lions center Dominic Raiola said, according to Anwar Richardson of MLive.com. “We (expletive) it up. It's very disheartening to do this (expletive) in big games. We got to clean it up. We ain't going to win (expletive) games like this if you play like that.”
Where do you start? Tight end Brandon Pettigrew got a 15-yard penalty for making contact with a game official, a violation certain to bring a fine. Wide receiver Titus Young shoved a Saints player in the facemask in front of officials for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Wide receiver Stefan Logan flipped the ball at a Saints player after a punt return for a penalty. Wide receiver Nate Burleson was called for offensive pass interference – three times. It is an epidemic.
“We made a big point last year pretending we were in a playoff run,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “Guess what? We're in one right now and we need to act accordingly. By that, I mean we need to be a team that doesn't beat ourselves. We have talent, we have good schemes, good coaching. We cannot afford to be selfish and put the team at risk of taking points off the board.”
The next step for Schwartz is to bench players who continue to collect yellow flags.
“Yeah, don't play guys who get penalties,” he said. “I've been very understanding on penalties that occur within the play. Something that has to do with the play, whether it's pass interference or holding or something like that. There's no excuse for the multiple penalties we had today.”
There’s no point in believing anything the Lions say about their behavior on the field at this point. They’re no longer credible. The only thing they can do is to change their actions. That is going to require time.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune