To Lions coach Jim Schwartz, there’s a distinction between a regular penalty and a dumb penalty: Schwartz can live with it if a defensive back gets a little too aggressive in press coverage and picks up an illegal contact flag, but he can’t live with it if a player gets 15 yards after the play for throwing the ball in the face of an opponent.
Or, as Lions receiver Nate Burleson put it, just don’t be dumb.
“Discipline was a big part of our offseason and we want to show we can learn from our mistakes,” Burleson told the Detroit News. “We want to show that we can go out week in and week out and not do those dumb things we did last year. Those dumb things cost you games.”
Schwartz pointed out that you can go too far in emphasizing avoiding penalties, and sometimes penalties are a byproduct of good, hard, aggressive football.
“The emphasis is to win the game,” Schwartz said Tuesday. “As much as we took a beating over penalties last year, I’d much rather win the game and explain 10 penalties than lose the game and try to take solace in the fact that we only had one penalty.”
Ultimately, Schwartz believes what Al Davis believed: Just win, baby, even if you pick up some penalties along the way.
“It is something we talk about and something we have to do a better job with,” Schwartz said. “But the object is to win the game.”
Last year, the Lions won more games than they had in any season since 1995. So maybe those penalties weren’t all so bad.