Detroit Lions' Definition of "Physical" Might Not Gel with the Rest of the NFL

Joe WillettSenior Writer INovember 15, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 13: A melee breaks out between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 37-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After watching the Chicago Bears' 37-13 drumming of the Detroit Lions, it looked as though the Lions were perfectly fine with the way that they played and were ready to blame it all on the wind.

Watching the game, you get a completely different story.

The Lions have pride that they are what they would call the most physical team in football; the problem is that polls of NFL players don't see them in the same light.

What the Lions call physical, other teams call dirty, and as teams in the NFL are starting to realize, they are sometimes the most physical after the whistle is blown.

Having a few late or dirty hits can be acceptable, but when it doesn't work is when you land little to no big hits before the whistle is blown.

If you look at some of the most physical plays by the Lions, they all could at least be considered an illegal play.  They was Nick Fairley driving Jay Cutler into the ground after Cutler had clearly gotten rid of the ball, Ndamukong Suh ripping off Cutler's helmet as he attempted to slide at the end of a run and Matthew Stafford taking down D.J. Moore by his helmet and nearly starting an all-out brawl between the two teams.

If you look at when the Bears were physical, however, you find that it is during the play and it has in-game consequences.  They was Julius Peppers landing a big hit on Calvin Johnson on the opening drive, forcing a fumble, Lance Briggs laying out Johnson later in the game (albeit that one was illegal) and Charles Tillman working his way in front of Johnson to get an interception which he returned for a touchdown.

When the Lions were physical, it was after the play was over or in an illegal fashion that didn't have any legitimate effect on the game other than attempted intimidation; when the Bears were physical they forced turnovers and scored points.

If the Lions want to be considered a "physical" team, it would also help if they recognized that they were making mistakes and that they aren't always in the right.

The Lions players and coaches were quick to attack D.J. Moore for his part in the melee that took place in the fourth quarter, but were even quicker to forget that Matthew Stafford had any role in what happened.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after the game, "I'll match our guys up against their guys anytime. That is a tough, physical team. We are a tough, physical team, but this game turned out the way it did because of turnovers and the return game. No other reason." 

If the Lions want to be physical, they have to learn when it is acceptable to be physical, a hit that is a half-second late holds a lot more weight when you have proved that you can make up that half-second and knock the ball out of their hands.