Monday, November 11, 2013
Schwartz says too soon for playoff chatter
By Michael Rothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Schwartz wants none of this chatter, really. All the first- place talk, the discussion of his team being the favorites in the NFC North, perhaps hosting a playoff game or getting a first-round playoff bye, he doesn’t want to hear about it.
Too soon, he says. Too much time to go. So when he’s asked about the possibility of said home playoff game or better, he acknowledged the effort of trying to get an answer from a reporter.
“Good try,” Schwartz said Monday. “We got way too far to go to start talking about stuff like that. I mean, we’re worried about this week. Good gracious, we have enough challenges to get through practice on a Wednesday, on a Thursday and on a Friday and build a game plan and things like that to start worrying about things that are two months down the road.
Not letting up following big victories has been a strength for the Lions, coach Jim Schwartz said.
“The only way we’ll get to two months down the road is if we do a good job in the moment. I like the personality of our team when it comes to that.”
If there is one thing Detroit has showed, it is the Lions don’t really get caught up within themselves all that much. They could have been pleased with their come-from-behind win against Dallas in the final minute or their first sweep of Chicago since 2007.
Then again, these are the Lions. And the Lions, as they are proving this season, have streak breaking to keep doing. Next up is an eight-game losing streak in Pittsburgh dating back to a 10-10 tie in 1959. The last time the Lions won there was a 31-28 win.
So this isn’t quite the 0-for-forever the Lions had prior to this season in Washington or even the current decades-long losing streak against Green Bay in the state of Wisconsin. But the Pittsburgh streak is another that can be snapped by a team that has gotten fairly good at it this season.
So even though Schwartz shooed away a question about having a balance between enjoying wins and focusing on the larger picture, it is still kind of understood.
“Especially coming off that bye week and as far as our division goes, you have to win, you have to keep that momentum going,” right guard Larry Warford said Sunday after beating the Bears. “Especially after that big win we had against Dallas, that game was just amazing. There’s people who could rest their head on that, get a little hungover from that win, get too high on that and forget about what you want to accomplish, which is making the playoffs and getting to the Super Bowl.
“So that’s the good thing about this team. We put that one win in our past and came out and we won. That’s what really matters, you know.”
In years past, dealing with success with the Lions has been a fleeting venture, hence the one playoff appearance this century and lack of any divisional title since the 1993 NFC Central crown. So being told you’re a good team and processing that like a winning team is still a new thing for Detroit.
“Quite honestly that is something in the past we haven’t done a good job of dealing with,” Schwartz said. “I think that’s been a significant change in our team, guys being able to bounce back from wins and keep level headed and things like that.
“That’s one of the reasons you bring in a player like a Reggie Bush, a guy who has experience and all those different things. I think he’s set a good example.”
Bush and some other veterans with experience, like Rashean Mathis and Israel Idonije, guys who have been on teams that have won, also helps.
And that’s important to have around as Detroit happens to be in a really strong position. The Lions are a fairly healthy team in a division where quarterbacks are falling everywhere. The Bears are also down their top two defensive players -- cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs. Green Bay is like a medic ward at this point.
So opportunity is there. Even if Schwartz insists it is too early to look at standings and the playoff race. Which goes back to that balance -- or lack of it.
“I don’t think there’s any balance,” Schwartz said. “I mean, we’ve got six wins. That’s not going to be enough.”
It isn’t. But if Detroit keeps at its current pace of wins, reaching more than six wins, the Lions' current total, shouldn’t be an issue, either.