I just got done catching up on Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz's nearly-30 minute news conference with local reporters Monday. Without saying it directly, Schwartz clearly paved the way for further discipline against the three players who committed personal foul penalties in Sunday's 31-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
How that manifests itself is yet to be determined, however. Receiver Titus Young saw only a couple of snaps after his second-quarter penalty, and that could represent his punishment. But Schwartz also will have to deal with kick returner Stefan Logan and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, whose late-game extracurriculars enraged Schwartz and led to a meeting with team captains on the Lions' charter plane.
"Unsportsmanlike conduct is a selfish penalty," Schwartz said. "It makes one player feel good and the rest of the team [is hurt]."
Schwartz noted on a number of occasions that right tackle Gosder Cherilus was benched for the Lions' Week 2 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs because of a personal foul he committed the week before. If he continues to follow that template, it stands to reason that Logan, Pettigrew and Young will have their playing time curtailed, if not eliminated altogether, for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"We had one [post-whistle unsportsmanlike conduct] in the opener," Schwartz said. "We addressed it. We went a pretty long time without another one. … We had Gosder, we had [Ndamukong] Suh. We had three guys this week."
Suh is serving a two-game league-mandated suspension for his ejection from the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers. Putting Cherlius and Suh in the same sentence with Young, Logan and Pettigrew would seem to suggest looming discipline. Schwartz said it is important to be "consistent" but careful to avoid overreacting or "putting more [emphasis] on one situation."
Cherlius' benching wasn't obvious until the morning of the Lions' game against the Chiefs. We might not know how Schwartz has decided to handle these latest instances until this Sunday. But the precedent has been set, and Schwartz ran the media through that template Monday. You might think Schwartz would be taking a risk by benching three prominent players during a playoff race, but I would suggest the Lions won't make the playoffs unless they get this situation under control first.