Jeff Riger: Is Lions Rep Losing Them Games?
As the Lions continue to get ready for the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on Sunday, the topic of last week’s lack of discipline was not leaving the team anytime soon. As each player stepped to the podium or talked at their locker stall, the media would throw the same questions to all. Why so many after the whistle personal foul penalties? Has the problem been taken care of? Will this team’s rep make you miss the postseason?
Of course Jim Schwartz and all his players said the same thing… The problem has been dealt with. If you commit stupid penalties you will not play. This team can still easily make the playoffs!
But it was that last question, you know the one about the Lions reputation and if it is affecting them with other teams and officials that seemed to get the most honest answers. While some guys laughed the question off, others seemed to really think about it before responding. Could it be? Is it true? Is the current reputation of the Lions being a dirty, undisciplined team that savors the chance to play through the whistle ruining their chance to win?
Below are some of the more compelling answers from players and coaches.
Kyle Vanden Bosch was one of the more quotable Lions on Wednesday. Vanden Bosch talked about the lack of discipline saying “we can’t beat ourselves anymore; we are a good team we just need to be more disciplined. If we play the way we’re capable of playing and play smart football, everything will work out for us.”
Vanden Bosch also had thoughts about the possible benching of players if these after the whistle penalties continue. “If there is a guy who doesn’t get the message and still does something to put himself before the team then we stand a better chance of winning with guys that do understand to put the team first then with guys that don’t.”
The veteran defensive lineman also answered the question that every fan has; is the Minnesota game must win? “This is a must win and if we want to still keep our playoffs hope alive then we have to win this one.”
Nate Burleson talked about his team’s reputation and how it is affecting them. “Not only do the refs know that we love to play through the whistle, that we are passionate, that we don’t take no ‘crap’ but other teams are probably saying hey if you pick at these guys they will end up doing something stupid. We have to know that, we have to have enough awareness that we are in that position now.”
So are refs looking to flag the Lions just because they are the Lions? “Now that we are actually in the hunt and the microscope is bigger and we have had a guy get suspended, those same mistakes are not going to fly anymore. A ref is not going to hold his flag like he did early in the season. Now he’s saying, oh those are the Lions, those are the guys that do a little extra, and that flag is coming out a lot faster.”
Burleson also commented on his three offensive pass interference calls that he received in the New Orleans game. “I’m just going to man up and say it was my fault, I’m not going to push off and I definitely won’t wear a bright white sleeve during the game anymore.”
Of course Dom Raiola was very outspoken on Sunday after the game, yelling for his team mates to grow up while using some very colorful language. Well on Wednesday, Dom was more passive and relaxed but still had the same message for people. “The last two weeks, we have sucked post snap and it has been costly. For us to have any kind of success people need to realize that we can’t do that anymore. Just shut up and play. When we are coming out talking trash, you know what let’s let our playing do the talking”
Ohh I almost forgot, I wanted to leave you with one more quote, it comes your way from the Viking’s Jared Allen. Allen spent some time talking on a conference call and was specifically asked about Calvin Johnson and his lack of production recently. Allen replied “if a guy’s national nick name is Megatron, unless you got Optimis Prime on your team, let’s double him up.” There it was, his solution to teams shutting down CJ. I would say that is good advice!