By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz did not seem particularly upset with the team’s 11 penalties for 88 yards after the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Schwartz said after the 34-24 win that he would not apologize for anything the team did in that game, presumably including the taunting penalty after the play on safety Louis Delmas or the illegal block against new team captain Ndamukong Suh.
After practice this week, though, everyone on the roster was sorry for the penalties.
“We ran a couple half-gassers as a team after practice because the mentality is that not just that person suffers, the whole team suffers, and especially when you get penalties like that,” running back Reggie Bush said. “Those can change the momentum of the game. Depending on the situation of the game, it could completely change the game. Those guys are smart, and I expect that they’ll learn from their mistakes and it won’t happen again.”
Bush, new to the team but entering his eighth year in the NFL, has been more vocal than most about how much penalties hurt the team but also how crucial it is that the veterans and leaders on the Lions are not the ones committing them.
“The veterans have to be the ones leading by example because if our veterans aren’t leading by example, then we’re not going to get anywhere,” Bush said. “We just have to do a good job.”
Despite all the penalties, Detroit still won against a 2012 playoff team, a division rival, a team that had given the Lions plenty of trouble in past years, and the victory came by a two-score margin. While the ability to win despite those mistakes encouraged the team, right tackle Corey Hilliard said that is not a situation the Lions want to repeat.
“You don’t want to live that lifestyle,” Hilliard said. “We don’t want to be that team. We’ve had that reputation of being undisciplined, and that’s something we’re trying to get rid of.”
The Lions do not necessarily commit more penalties than other teams, but they have a propensity for committing stupid penalties, like ones that come after the whistle, or costly ones, like the infractions that wiped out big plays Sunday. To change how people think about the LIons, though, will take work, time and significantly more self-control.
Players were amazed by the $100,000 fine the NFL levied against Suh, but wide receiver Nate Burleson said the team knows Suh is not the only one under the microscope.
“if we make a mistake, it doesn’t matter if it’s Suh, myself or any guy on the team, there’s a perception that Detroit football players are a little rough around the edges, and we don’t want to give anybody ammunition to shoot at us unfairly,” Burleson said. “We’ve got to be aware of that.”