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Monday, November 25, 2013
Detroit Lions need to fix their woes fast

By Michael Rothstein

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- On Sunday, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Nate Burleson said there should be a players-only meeting to help the Lions following their two-game losing streak.

That feeling, apparently, was not unanimous.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford disagreed with the notion that a players-only meeting was necessary when he spoke with the media Monday. He said the meeting has not happened and that he didn’t believe it was imperative.

“This is a team I’ve been around for a while and we have strong leaders on this team,” Stafford said. “We can get it taken care of just in individual groups and we have leaders at every position and guys know what it takes to win in this league and what a fine margin it is.

“There’s no offensive, defensive, special teams overhaul needed. We got to go out there and play a little bit better than we’ve been playing.”

Interestingly, two of the players on the Lions who have been in this situation before are two who thought the team meeting was a good idea -- Bush and Burleson. Bush won a Super Bowl with New Orleans. Burleson won two division titles with Seattle.

On Sunday, Bush told the Detroit Free Press "we definitely need to have a players-only meeting."

When asked about it Sunday, Burleson agreed.

“Anything Reggie says, I’m 100 percent behind him,” Burleson said. “Maybe he’s right. We’ve got to talk this week, a players-only meeting and find a way to fine tune our focus.

“Guys were focused at the beginning of the game but there were drops in our energy, in letting them continue to stay motivated. We have to find a way to snatch away the motivation of opposing teams, especially at home.”

While there are differing opinions on how that should be handled, what can be agreed upon is that there needs to be conversations -- either as a large group or in smaller, more individual discussions -- and internal analysis about what has been going on with Detroit and how to solve it.

Meeting or no meeting, the reality is that the Lions have not played well the past two weeks. The Lions dropped games to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay -- teams with sub-.500 records -- by surrendering leads in the fourth quarter. The Lions have also had three or more turnovers in their past four games and have forced only one turnover in the past five games.

The Lions have outgained their opponents in the past five games, but have gone 2-3 in the stretch.

“They were two bitter defeats and they were missed opportunities that we had,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “But I think we all need to remind ourselves, like we did (Sunday), that the fact is there are five games remaining and we’re in first place.

“And we need to conduct ourselves accordingly and we can’t worry about what happened last week. We can’t worry about what happened yesterday. We need to worry about what’s going to happen in the future and I like our team’s mindset that way.”

That’s where this could be concerning. Most of the players on this Detroit team have not been in a position where they have been in first place this late in the season before. The franchise hasn’t been in this position all that often.

In some ways this group will be learning as they go.

The Lions are in first place, but just because they are a first-place team by record, doesn’t mean they are playing like a first-place team.

That point, for now, is in question.

“Well, you are what your record says you are,” Stafford said, borrowing from an old Bill Parcells quote. “We definitely, we lost some games and we’ve got to find the little things that are maybe eluding us right now and do them a little bit better and find a way to get on a run.”

Using Stafford’s Parcellian metric, Detroit is a very average team now at 6-5. Luckily for the Lions, so is everyone else in the NFC North, so there is still much to play for.

It’s just a matter of whether or not the Lions can figure out what has been going wrong and fix in time to save their playoff run.