By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – When a team loses, it blocks out all the negative chatter.
This week the Detroit Lions are putting on the earmuffs to tune out the positive chatter – not any easy task after defeating the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field for the first time since 2007 and taking the lead in the NFC North.
The Lions, though, seem up to the challenge. As quickly as minutes after the Chicago game concluded, Detroit running back Reggie Bush began looking ahead to the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Lions will play on the road Sunday. The success should serve as a boost to the team’s confidence, but it could also have detrimental effects.
“It can be an advantage, and it can hurt you too,” veteran running back Reggie Bush said. “Because we are in the lead right now in our division, obviously it’s going to start a lot of talks about how well we’re playing and what we’re doing right and all these things. One thing we can’t do is we can’t eat the cheese, so to speak, as we like to say.”
Bush did not clarify what exactly the phrase meant, but it seems to call to mind the image of some kind of wise rodent refraining from going for the cheese used to bait a mousetrap – hard to resist, but very likely dangerous.
“We can’t get looking ahead and overlook the Pittsburgh Steelers and then go in there and get beat,” Bush said. “That’s where our leadership comes into play, so we have to do a good job at learning from the mistakes we made this game and getting ready for Pittsburgh.”
Every sentence Bush began with a positive sentiment about the win, he ended with a reminder that the team still has much to do. Bush’s attitude seemed right in line with that of head coach Jim Schwartz, who said the idea of balancing between enjoying the team’s current success and preparing for the future is a non-issue.
“I don’t think there’s any balance,” Schwartz said, then laughed. “We’ve got six wins. That’s not going to be enough. I don’t know anybody looks at it the way that – maybe people around the league, stuff like that. We don’t talk about standings and things like that this time of year.
“You have to go out and you have to prepare for your next opponent, you have to correct mistakes, you have to plug guys in for guys that are injured, that same thing that I say every week,” Schwartz continued. “And that’s just where we are. Everything else sort of goes out the window.”
Needless to say, how much it would mean to the city of Detroit to host a playoff game and get a first-round bye were not topics Schwartz would delve into Monday afternoon.
“Good try,” Schwartz said with a smile. “We’ve got way too far to go to start talking about stuff like that. We’re worried about this week. Good gracious, we have enough challenges to get through practice on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and get through practice and things like that to start worrying about things that are two months down the road, and the only way we get to two months down the road is if we do a good job in the moment.”
Schwartz feels good about how his team is handling the wins and resulting praise so far.
“I like the personality of our team when it comes to that,” Schwartz said. “I know it’s exciting for fans of our team and for people around the league and things like that, but honestly, I think you can get sidetracked by starting to get ahead of yourself as a team, and we want to guard against that.
“It’s increasingly becoming part of the scope of the NFL to deal with praise and deal with the accolades and things like that, and it makes it difficult to stay level-headed,” Schwartz added. “It makes it difficult to stay even-keeled throughout the course of a season … That’s something that in the past we haven’t done a good job of dealing with. I think that’s been a significant change in our team, guys being able to bounce back from wins and keep level-headed, things like that. That’s one of the reasons you bring in a player like a Reggie Bush, a guy that has experience in all those different things. I think that he’s set a good example that way.”