Schwartz meets with captains on plane ride home from New Orleans

Posted Dec 5, 2011

Lions coach Jim Schwartz told the media Monday that he met with captains Kyle Vanden Bosch, Dominic Raiola, Matthew Stafford and Jason Hanson on the plane ride home from New Orleans last night.

He didn’t get into specifics of that conversation, but it’s likely there was some discussion of accountability in that meeting. Not only from a player-to-coach standpoint, but from a player-to-player perspective.

The Lions lost to the Saints, 31-17, on Sunday. But there was a sentiment after the game from both coaches and players that the Lions beat themselves with 11 penalties more than the Saints beat them.

“We obviously are talented enough to play with them,” Schwartz said during Monday’s press conference. “We obviously have enough playmakers to battle a team like that, but we have to play our best football and we can’t let foolish, selfish penalties get in the way of that.”

Schwartz was referring to the three after-the-whistle penalties on Titus Young, Stefan Logan and Brandon Pettigrew, particularly.

“As a head coach you take responsibility,” he said. “The team is your ultimate responsibility.”

Schwartz referenced the meeting after being asked about Raiola’s comments in the locker room after the game when he was telling teammates to “grow up.”

“Not only is (Raiola) a member of the team, but he’s one of our captains, so there’s obviously some accountability there,” Schwartz said.

Players like Raiola and Jeff Backus shouldn't allow these killer penalties to continue without repercussions. They're finally playing meaningful games in December in their careers and young players are making immature and selfish penalties to derail a playoff opportunity.

Schwartz reiterated Monday that it’s the pre- and post-whistle penalties that are at the heart of the problem and that the team must eliminate them from the final four games if they're going to make run.

“We’re at the last quarter of the season. It’s a situation that last year we sort of pretended we were in,” Schwartz said. “There’s no pressure involved with pretending, even though the teams that we were playing obviously had that urgency.

“But now it’s us. It’s up to us to take advantage of it. It’s up to us to put the inconsistencies of the last two weeks behind us and also to continue to make some of the plays that we’ve made, because we have made some good plays these last two weeks.”

Certainly not enough to counteract the dumb penalties.

The Lions have received two unnecessary roughness and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the last two weeks. They have five for the season, including tackle Gosder Cherilus’ unnecessary roughness call late in a Week 1 victory over the Buccaneers that resulted in his benching for Week 2.

Schwartz wasn’t happy after Sunday’s game and let the players in the locker room know it after the game. The media could certainly sense it in the postgame news conference.

From all indications Monday, Schwartz isn’t going to tolerate it any longer.

But it’s also time for the players to be accountable to each other and for the captains to help drive that home. That was probably part of the message conveyed to them from Schwartz on the plane ride home.

“We have four left to go and we need to make sure that, in those games, if we’re not ahead in the score, it’s not because of something we did, it’s something that our opponents did,” Schwartz said. “This is the National Football League; there’s outstanding players on both sides of the football. Every opponent has outstanding players. There are opponents that are going to make plays. What we need to make sure is that we make our plays and that we also don’t negate our plays with penalties.”