Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Jim Schwartz on Suh and accountability
By Kevin Seifert
I don't often post raw transcripts of daily interview sessions with NFC North players and coaches, but Tuesday marked the first time Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz has extensively addressed the ejection and suspension of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Speaking to Detroit-area reporters, Schwartz made clear he disapproved of Suh's actions and reactions to the events of Thursday. Schwartz took ultimate responsibility for the episode and said all concerned parties would be held accountable.
Here are the relevant questions and answers, courtesy the Lions' public relations staff:
On how he feels about Suh's suspension and if he will appeal
Jim Schwartz: "You know, the appeal is part of the player's process and that's outlined in the CBA and you know, the NFLPA, the player's agent, and stuff like that. That's not really a team issue. It obviously affects the team, but it's really not a team issue, so I really can’t comment on that.
"But, obviously, it hurts to lose any player for two games, much less a player like Ndamukong Suh. But there's accountability for our actions, you know, and that's a situation where something happened after the whistle.
"We want to be as tough and as physical and play as hard as we can between the snap and the whistle, but anything that happens after that -- we put our team in a bad position, we got to pay the consequences for and that's the position that we're in right now. That being said, we do have depth at [the] defensive tackle position. Nick Fairley is playing very well, as is Sammie Hill, and Corey Williams is probably playing the best football of his career, so we're going to be just fine."
"That’s part of not having players, whether it's from an injury, which we have some injury situations, or a situation like this. We'll get through it as a team, and when we get him back, we'll get back into the swing of things with him."
On if Suh is remorseful
JS: "I think I'll let him speak for himself when he gets that opportunity, but I have had a lot of conversations with him the last two days and I think he is in a different spot. You know, this is a very emotional game. There are a lot of things that happen on the field and a lot of things that maybe look different to us when we see them on film than we remembered them on the field. It happens to coaches, happens to players. But after the emotions die down and things like that, maybe you see things in a little different way.
"I don't want to speak for him, but ... I think his No. 1 thing is he didn't want to be a distraction for the team. He wanted the team to be able to focus on the Saints and then he wants to be accountable for his actions and get back on the field as quick as he can."
On if he worries about Suh finding a balance and playing within the rules
JS: "We want to be as tough and as physical as we can be between the snap and the whistle and that doesn't change for Ndamukong Suh or any of our players. We'll all defend our players, all day long when it's something that happens in the course of a play. You know, you get a face mask -- nobody's trying to get a face mask. Or it ends up being a helmet-to-helmet hit when you know, you're aiming point is not that way, and all those different things -- those are all stuff that we can work with and it's part of playing, it's part of the game.
"But anything that happens after the whistle, and when you get your team penalized -- and in this situation, [it] cost us four points. We were getting ready to hold them to a field goal attempt in a very tight game, at that point, and also take a player off the field. You know, Corey Williams had a calf, and we had less numbers at defensive line. All of a sudden, other guys have to take those positions. So, it put the team in a bad position.
"If I remember correctly, this is the first time Ndamukong's been flagged for something that was after the whistle. He's been fined for the [Jay] Cutler hit or a face mask or a hands to the face, or you know, those kind of things, but this is the first one that's occurred after the whistle and it needs to be his last. I think part of the thing is that obviously there's scrutiny of him and there's going to be a lot of attention and everything he does is going to be put under a microscope and he needs to act accordingly. But it shouldn't change his effort and his toughness and how hard he's playing in between the snaps.
On if he takes responsibility for Suh’s actions:
JS: "The head coach takes responsibility for everything that occurs on the field, whether it's a player dropping a pass or mental error or scoring a touchdown. Ultimately, it's a responsibility of the head coach, so we don’t shy away from that at all.
"I think that there's accountability in a lot of different places. Every player has accountability for his play, and coaches have responsibility for what happens on the field. We certainly don't shy away from that."
On worrying about Suh's intensity
JS: "I think every player needs to be as intense as they can on every single play and I don't think that’s a consideration we have with Ndamukong. It's the before the snap, afterwards. There's going to be a lot more scrutiny, I mean, there’s already a lot of scrutiny. From the time Ndamukong played his first snap, I still remember we played at Pittsburgh his first preseason game, there was an isolation camera on him every single play he was in the game. I mean, he gets that kind of attention, he's that kind of a player and … there's going to be scrutiny and he needs to be able to know that that's there, but not let that affect his play during the actual play."
On if Suh "gets it" now
JS: "Oh I think for sure he understands the position that he put his team in in the game and also the position that we’re in right now. And he feels a tremendous sense of responsibility for that.
"There’s an accountability for what we do on the field and he, particularly these last couple days, is well aware of that and feels a tremendous responsibility and like I said, the main thing is, with all this going on, he didn't want it to be something that takes away from the focus of [the] New Orleans Saints and I can say, for the team, I mean, the team's not thinking about it...."