Key Questions: Who's to blame for the 4-10 record?

Posted Dec 17, 2012

The easy answer is everyone. There isn’t one player or one coach who hasn’t had a hand in 4-10 (Okay, Calvin Johnson is close to being the one).

Lions guard Rob Sims said there was no way to sugarcoat Sunday’s 38-10 loss in Arizona. He explained it as the Lions being "sucker punched."

It was easily the team’s worst loss of the year and now their sixth straight in a season the Lions would like to soon forget.

So who is to blame for 4-10?

The easy answer is everyone. There isn’t one player or one coach who hasn’t had a hand in 4-10 (Okay, Calvin Johnson is close to being the one).

During his press conference Monday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said he takes 100 percent of the blame.

“I appreciate it when a quarterback wants to take blame for it, but ultimately it’s the head coach’s responsibility,” he said. “I mean, head coaches always have a record. Other than playoffs I don’t know if I’ve ever seen quarterbacks have records. Usually it’s playoffs, ‘Hey this guy is whatever in the playoffs.’

"The ultimate responsibility of the team is the head coach and I need to do a better job. 4-10 isn’t good enough.”

What was the most disappointing aspect of Sunday’s loss?

The most disappointing part about covering the game from a media perspective was that the game stories were written and ready to send by the final whistle – minus the quotes, of course.

Heading into the game, some might of that that would be the case, just with a different lede.

“Well, we’ve had a lot of games this year that came down to one play,” Schwartz said. “You know, one critical play in the fourth quarter that you look at and say, ‘Hey, if we made that one we would have won the game.’

“We can’t be naïve to think that this was one of those games. Even though we have a chance to pull within seven with six minutes to play, that really wasn’t the case in this game. There were way too many errors in this game to have a chance to win and it showed on the scoreboard.”

It was easily the most frustrating loss of the season for the Lions.

Has this team taken a step back after coming off a 10-6 season, and how quickly can Schwartz and Co. get it back on track?

The Lions coaching staff continue to call it 'a bump in the road' and not a complete step in the wrong direction. The team has been close in almost all of their games this season, but continue to have the big plays needed  elude them.

“Yeah, we’re not going to make any predictions,” Schwartz said when asked how long it would take for this team to arrive at being a consistent winner.

“We’re going to do our very best for Atlanta this week. Our mantra’s always been the same when it comes to that stuff. But we have, I don’t want to say set back, but we have been sidetracked this year. We have gone off the rails a little bit, sidetracked. Got to get back on track.”

Are players pressing too much to try and get it back on track and stem the bleeding?

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch said after the game that he didn’t feel like the Lions were playing like a team. He even suggested that with so many players on one-year contracts and having uncertain futures, maybe some of them were trying to do too much.

“I mean, it’s a real dynamic as far as the business of the NFL when it comes to players,” Schwartz said. “I think all our players are professional and they leave that aside when it comes to playing in the game. I don’t want to speak for Stephen but I haven’t seen any sign of that. I think we have a lot of guys that are on the last year of the deal that are having some of their best seasons.

“I don’t think you can ever try too hard. But sometimes you can press; you can try to do too much. I think that’s pretty well documented with football and with just about all sports. Particularly when you’re losing and it means a whole lot to you. You’re going to try to make the play. You’re going to try to be the game changer – doesn’t’ always work out.

“Our player’s effort has been good, but we gave up our last touchdown on that long run and it was totally a matter of too many guys trying to make the play rather than just do their job.”

Did Schwartz ever consider benching quarterback Matthew Stafford Sunday?

Stafford had his worst game since probably his rookie season on Sunday. He completed less that 50 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Schwartz made a good point when asked Monday if he considered benching his franchise quarterback. He said it never crossed his mind because he’s seen No. 9 bring them back in the fourth quarter too many times in four years (nine times to be exact).

“I think he’s our best quarterback and if he’s healthy enough he’s going to play,” Schwartz said. “I don’t want to farm somebody else’s land but why didn’t the Saints replace Drew Brees after four (interceptions)? I mean hey, you put your best guys out there and that’s our objective every single week. Matt can make all the plays for us. He’s brought us back plenty of times and we’re not going to make changes just to make changes.”

At 4-10, has there been any focused turned to the offseason or draft preparation?

It would be a shame if the Lions did. They still have a national televised game Saturday night against one of the best teams in the NFL (Atlanta) at home, and then play host to division foe Chicago with a chance to spoil their playoff chances.

That should be incentive enough.

“We’re on a short week this week. I barely have time to do a press conference with looking at all the film from yesterday’s game and then getting right to work on a short week for Atlanta,” Schwartz said.

“You don’t have time to think about that. I know fans do, I know you guys do, but believe me, we’re not thinking of next year at all. We’re thinking everything we can do to win this game. And everybody in the league’s the same way. I dare you to find a team in the NFL that’ll say 'Yeah, we’re playing for next year,' or stuff like that. I don’t think it exists.

"There’s too much urgency in this League. There’s too much at stake every single week for individuals as players, for coaches, for organizations. There’s too much every single week to strive to win for.”