Lions

Lions Motivated To ‘Win One For Gunther’

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DENVER - AUGUST 21:  Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham of the Detroit Lions works from the bench against the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 25-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

DENVER – AUGUST 21: Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham of the Detroit Lions works from the bench against the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 25-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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You can bet that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had Sunday’s game against Kansas City circled in blood the minute the schedule was released.

That said, head coach Jim Schwartz is going to do his level best not to turn this into a “Win one for the Gunther” week.

“Do you think that stuff means anything to Matt Stafford or Calvin Johnson or Ndamukong Suh?” coach Jim Schwartz said on Monday. “We have a 60-minute game to play and to put anything else on it would be foolish.”

Maybe so, but not only did Cunningham spend 11 seasons with the Chiefs, including two seasons as their head coach, but, more pertinently, the Chiefs accused him (technically the Lions, but he was named) of tampering with former Chiefs’ safety Jarrod Page before last season. That charge cost the Lions 19 spots in the fifth round of the 2010 draft (they swapped with the Chiefs) and a seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft.

“I am sure there will be some extra (motivation) for him this week,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “And I am pretty sure it will be for us, too. He’ll be real intense and definitely want to get after them. We are going to be on point all week with our game plan and stuff.”

Cunningham won’t address the media until Friday, which is how the team structures interviews with coordinators. And Schwartz wasn’t taking the bait.

“Nobody is going to go out and win one for the Gipper,” he said. “All that stuff with Kansas City is water under the bridge.”

Water under the bridge? Maybe it is for the players and the organization, but probably not so much for Cunningham.

“We haven’t talked about Kansas City yet, but I am sure he will get into it,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “Gun uses (bulletin board motivation) a lot. He gets here early before anyone else and the first thing he does is pull up the newspapers. He tries to find any motivation he can.”

–The players knew it was coming. They may have won the season-opener in Tampa on Sunday, but they didn’t win any favors from the coaching staff.

“We got cussed out,” left guard Rob Sims said. “We expected that. That’s part of growing and part of what we need. When I first got here we were just kind of stuck in those losing ways. Some stuff we did because that’s what losing teams do. Some of that stuff is still part of us and we are trying to break away from that.

“This was good. He’s a great coach and him coming at us and checking us after a win like that is big. It’s going to help us down the road.”

Coach Jim Schwartz didn’t mince his words on Sunday, saying his team was “lucky to win,” and he didn’t pull back much on Monday.

“We did some great things in the game but we also did some bone-headed things that almost caused us to lose the game,” he said. “Special teams? We’re a much better special teams group than we showed. We did a lot of uncharacteristic things on offense. We played poorly in the red zone. We played poorly on third down. We had a turnover that ended up being a touchdown. We have up a long kickoff return.

“There’s plenty of room for all groups to get better.”

What chafed him the most were the mental mistakes, specifically a personal foul penalty against right tackle Gosder Cherilus late in the game that set up a potential game-tying final drive for the Buccaneers. Right guard Stephen Peterman also had an unnecessary personal foul penalty in the first half.

“We didn’t show our best,” he said. “Coaches learn to live with physical mistakes. But some of the things we did didn’t show us in the best of light and it’s my job to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The players took their medicine.

“Nobody is walking around here talking about good we are or how great this team is,” said defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. “We got a huge win and we feel like we need to get better. If we continue making the mistakes we made on Sunday, it’s going to get us beat.”

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