Charlie Sanders says Detroit Lions need more accountability

Posted Jan 9, 2013

Speaking at a Walgreens' luncheon at Ford Field, Charlie Sanders said accountability was the Detroit Lions' biggest need for getting back to the playoffs and becoming a consistent winner year-after-year.

Charlie Sanders has been a part of the Detroit Lions organization in some capacity for 39 years.

From 1968-77, Sanders was a standout tight end for Detroit, which earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Since 1998, he has been a part of the team's scouting department, most recently promoted to assistant director of pro personnel in 2000.

Given his background, it's safe to say Sanders knows a thing or two about football - and the Detroit Lions.

Speaking at a Walgreens' luncheon at Ford Field, Tuesday, Sanders was asked what the Lions' biggest need was to get back to the playoffs and to become a consistent winner year-after-year.

"Players have to be accountable for their mistakes," he said without hesitation. "When you go to a team that's a consistent winner, their players are held accountable."

Sanders used the example of Giants first-round pick David Wilson, who in his first NFL game Week 1 vs. Dallas - on only the second carry of his NFL career - lost a fumble in an eventual 24-17 Giants defeat.

Wilson did not carry the ball again for the rest of the game by order of head coach Tom Coughlin and instead was assigned to kickoff return duties. In fact, that was the majority of his role until injuries thrust him back into the backfield Week 13 against New Orleans.

Wilson had totaled just 111 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown the entire season before the Saints game. In that Week 13 matchup, Wilson carried it 13 times for 100 yards.

"He was held accountable for that mistake," Sanders said.

It should also be noted that Wilson didn't fumble again for the rest of his 70 carries in 2012.

The Lions won't truly take the next step, says Sanders, until players are held to an equal standard both on and off the field.

The organization has shown it is willing to take a hard stand with the dismissal of cornerback Aaron Berry for two off-the-field incidents last offseason and again with the dismissal of receiver Titus Young during the regular season for insubortination.

On the field, right tackle Gosder Cherilus did not play in a Week 2 contest vs. Kansas City in 2011 after incurring a personal foul penalty late the previous week that nearly cost the Lions the win.

Later that same year, Young was benched for most of the second half of a road loss in New Orleans after his personal foul penalty at the goal line forced the Lions into a field goal instead of a much-needed touchdown.

But Sanders seemed to allude to the fact that there needs to be more of that type of accountability for players who make repeated mistakes or aren't performing at the appropriate level.

He says the Lions need more accountability across the entire organization and more leadership among the players themselves to hold their own accountable, as well.