Mathis, Burleson say players deserve their fair share of criticism, too

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Veterans Nate Burleson and Rashean Mathis say it's not just the coaches' responsibility for limiting mistakes and improving

Rashean MathisPhoto: G. Smith/Detroit Lions

Nate Burleson and Rashean Mathis have been in the league a combined 22 years.

The veteran receiver and cornerback have seen just about everything in each of their 11 years of service. They've been on winning teams, they've played for losing teams, and, yes, been a part of teams that haven't lived up to expectations.

Most would consider this current Lions team falling into the latter category so far this season and time is running out to fix it.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has come under fire during the Lions current losing streak (1-4) and questions have surfaced about his job security should the Lions not right the ship and get a little help down the stretch.

Both Mathis and Burleson, however, say the blame starts with the 53 players in the locker room.

"It's on the players," Mathis said. "Plays are called, but we as players have to execute them. We as players, and I'm sure I'm speaking for my locker room, take that burden off (Jim Schwartz's) back and shoulder it.

"At the end of the day it's up to the players and they have to execute. If we can't execute that falls on us."

Mathis said it was up to individual players to take onus of their own performance. It's also up to the players, according to Mathis, to be proactive in fixing mistakes.

That falls on coaching, too, but there are two sides of that coin.

"As a professional athlete, if you're trying to be more than average in this league, you have to take onus on yourselves in being able to look at yourself in a mirror and say, 'I can do this better and that will help us win this ballgame.'

"If you're looking for a coach to guide you and correct you each and every given moment, you're in the wrong sport. You have to be able to discipline yourself and we have to be able to discipline ourselves and make the plays when they're there to be made."

Turnovers, drops, fumbles and penalties are all physical mistakes that are correctable. The frustrating part for Lions fans is why the same mistakes keep happening year-after-year and game-after-game.

It's only natural to start pointing fingers when that's the case.

"You can't look further than the guys wearing the jerseys," Burleson said. "Maybe it's just older guys talking (he and Mathis), but we want to shoulder the responsibility more than anything.

"The coward's way out is trying to point the finger in other directions. If anyone wants to give criticism, then give it to the players, not the coaches. They don't suit up."