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Monday, November 28, 2011
Lions and Jim Schwartz absorbing criticism

By Kevin Seifert

As we await news on any further NFL discipline against Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, it's worth noting a strong assessment from longtime coach Tony Dungy, now a broadcaster for NBC.

Suh has absorbed blistering public criticism in the days since his ejection from last Thursday's game against the Green Bay Packers. But speaking Monday on the Dan Patrick radio show, Dungy cast blame toward the Lions and their coaching staff for not acting more aggressively to curb Suh's on-field behavior.

"I really have to fault the Detroit organization," Dungy said. "I think they could have stopped this. I think they could have made a preemptive strike and said, 'Hey you know what? We've got to get this player under control.' … They just need to do a better job of channeling it in the right direction. I think that starts with the coaching staff and the organization."

Dungy acknowledged that coach Jim Schwartz has been trying to effect a culture change in Detroit after taking over an 0-16 team in 2009. But ultimately, Dungy said, a coach needs to ensure his players aren't putting his team in a bad spot.

"There is a fine line," Dungy said. "You want to bring that in. I know coach Schwartz has felt like we've got to change the culture [and said,] 'We can't be the people that everyone wants to play. We've got to develop that case of, hey we're going to win those physical battles on the field.' But when it comes to penalties, to personal fouls, to ejections, you've got to draw the line. I think they could have helped him much more than they did."

ESPN reported Sunday that Suh is expected to receive at least a two-game suspension. The Lions aren't likely to be disciplined as an organization, nor should they be. But it's clear they will be held accountable by at least one well-respected NFL observer.