The Lions followed a 2011 playoff appearance with a bad 2012 offseason and then a bad regular season: Detroit had more player arrests than wins last year. But Lions receiver Nate Burleson says that’s not a reflection on the head coach.
Asked on NFL AM if Jim Schwartz deserves some of the blame for the Lions’ lack of discipline, Burleson answered, “No.”
“For me, to put blame on the coaches is really a cop out,” Burleson added. “Because at the end of the day, we’re the ones in the jerseys. They put us in a position to succeed.”
Burleson said that Schwartz did a great job in 2011 of building the team’s confidence and toughness, but he blamed some of the younger players for turning cocky off the field after that season.
“In 2011, we really captured what he was trying to sell us, which was high-intensity, almost through-the-whistle type of play. And to be honest, as a team, we embraced it so much that during the offseason we had some issues with some young guys getting in trouble and we had to address that,” Burleson said. “We had to reset and kind of understand that coach wasn’t telling us to go out there and act like hoodlums, he was basically telling us to go out there and play at a very high, almost violent level, but we have to keep it on the field.”
Schwartz may not deserve the blame for the Lions’ players off-field problems. But if they’re not better on the field this year, Schwartz may pay for it with his job.