When Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Detroit Lions show up to Allen Park on Wednesday, the next comment out of their mouths in relation to their war of words with the Atlanta Falcons should be, “We’ve moved on.”
This little exchange between Suh and the Falcons is rather inane. I would expect players like “Rodney” White and Todd McClure to be upset if opposing players were taunting Matt Ryan as their quarterback lies on the ground withering in pain. They’re right — the alleged taunts were uncalled for and I find it rather humorous that Suh called Ryan’s injury “karma” for the Falcons when a) Atlanta wound up winning the game, 23-16 and b) it appears as though Matthew Stafford emerged from the game with a more serious injury than Ryan did.
But Suh is also right when he suggested that the Falcons’ complaints were akin to the kettle calling the pot black. For years Atlanta’s offensive linemen have been accused of blocking past the whistle and cutting defenders well downfield in attempts to “clean them up.” It was much worse when nasty guard Harvey Dahl (now with the Rams) was around, but it’s nothing new for the Falcons to be called dirty.
That said, so what? It’s time for the Lions to move on because they clearly have bigger problems to worry about. Suh has the right to defend himself and he did that. But the Falcons have a bye this week, which means Roddy White has all the time in the world to respond to anything Suh says. Thus, the big DT and the rest of his teammates would be wise to drop the situation and devote their focus to more pressing issues.
Not only is Stafford’s health once again up in the air but the team has also lost two straight and Jim Schwartz looks like a man without answers. He has a top-5 pass rush and an overachieving secondary but that means very little when opponents can shred you on the ground and run towards victory. Plus, thanks in large part to Calvin Johnson, Detroit’s passing game is solid but they can’t stay balanced because they don’t have a running back and they couldn’t run-block even if they did.
Furthermore, Schwartz and his players would likely benefit from turning it down a notch. Schwartz is trying to change the mentality of a franchise that has been losing for over a decade and in some respects, it has to be refreshing for fans to see their head coach and players get so fired up. But after a post-game scuffle with the 49ers and a pre-game scuffle with the Falcons, tension seems to be building in Detroit and if Schwartz doesn’t get his team re-focused, the Lions’ previous 5-0 record might vanish in a heartbeat.
Good teams manage adversity and the great ones overcome it. Last season the Packers were a walking infirmary and they found a way to overcome all of their injury issues to win the Super Bowl. Not only do the Lions have injury concerns because of guys like Stafford and Jahvid Best, but they also have serious weaknesses on both sides of the ball that teams are exploiting.
For years the Lions have been irrelevant but their 5-0 start gained everyone’s attention. Now let’s see if they can handle the adversity that often comes with overnight success.