During the past two weeks, the Detroit Lions have shown as much discipline as William "The Refrigerator" Perry at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They've failed to control their emotional "appetites."
Players such as Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young and Stefan Logan committed unforgivable penalties at key moments in the game against New Orleans, impacting their team in the process.
And we all know about the Ndamukong Suh stomp by now.
There is nothing off-base or inaccurate about referring to the Detroit Lions as an undisciplined team. They've demonstrated a penchant for over-the-top brashness, emotional outbursts and a serious lack of poise. They've committed ill-timed penalties again and again.
These are all tell-tale signs of immaturity and lack of discipline.
However, head coach Jim Schwartz seems to see it differently. In an article on MLive.com by Anwar Richardson, Schwartz is quoted as saying:
"I think you can look at (discipline) in two different ways. One is a lack of focused discipline. If a team is continually jumping offsides or making mistakes that are unforced errors, pre-snap penalties ... I don't think that's us at all. Up until this game, I don't know where everybody else is in the league, but we had one (major penalty) in the opener (against Tampa Bay) with Gosder Cherilus that we addressed (he was benched the following game)."
He went on to add:
"It doesn't have anything to do with discipline, I think we've been much improved when it comes to our pre-snap penalties. We had one (major penalty) in the opener, we addressed it and we went a pretty long time without them...The other thing is we don't have a player who has gotten more than one of these. We had Gosder, we had Suh, we had the three guys this week. There hasn't been repeat offenders, but as a team, we've had five this year. That's way too many."
Like his team, Schwartz does not get it.
Yes, five major penalties is way too many, but what about all the other penalties called this season? Face-masking, roughing the passer, hands to the face—don't these indicate a lack of discipline as well? What about failing to learn from their mistakes?
Schwartz rationalizes that not one player has gotten multiple major penalties. I look at that differently.
I would prefer it if the Lions had one loose cannon that kept hurting the team. That player could simply be benched or cut; problem solved.
Not the Lions. The lack of discipline has infected many players, young and old.
This makes it a more serious problem. One that Schwartz needs to address quickly and decisively.
Some people believe that a player needs to be sacrificed and cut from the team in order for players to get the point. Of all the players penalized lately, Stefan Logan would seem to be the likeliest candidate.
Should the Lions cut a player to make a point to the team?
This will not happen—not now. But Schwartz does have to make a change.
I prefer to think his comments do not really reflect his true feelings on the subject. This is why he is loved and respected by his players. He is a player's coach and his comments are simply meant to calm the media storm while not giving too much information away.
Rumor has it that Schwartz gave a verbal thrashing to several players in the locker room following the loss to the Saints. He also had a private meeting with team captains on the flight home.
And let's not forget that Titus Young was benched following his penalty.
Despite his claim that the Lions do not have discipline issues, his actions are those of someone trying to correct something. This is what you want to see from a coach. He is not complacent. He is making it known that these mental lapses will not be tolerated and players will be benched.
The Lions also need veteran players to step up and police themselves. Not everyone on the Lions is undisciplined. Kyle Vanden Bosch, Dominic Raiola and Calvin Johnson have shown poise and leadership.
Raiola has been the most vocal. He was seen lighting into Young on the sideline, then going on an expletive-filled tirade in the locker room, instructing everyone to grow up.
That was the clean version.
It appears that the Lions are finally getting some leadership to step in and correct the problem. The real proof will be next Sunday on the field. It seems unthinkable that the Lions would not learn their lesson.
But isn't that what we thought last week too? Stay tuned.