One of the Detroit Lions' players described the team's locker room this way: "At the end, we were a fractured group. Everything fell apart because we didn't have unity."
What does that mean exactly?
"I think players first and foremost are at fault," said the player. "I also think Coach [Jim Schwartz] lost control of the team a little. I hope he comes back. It would be stupid to fire him, but we were an undisciplined team. Most of that is on us.
"But everyone needs to be accountable. The coaches, the players, the front office. Guys need to stop acting like assholes off the field. Need to stop getting stupid penalties. The truth is coaches need to punish guys more when they screw up."
While reports of Schwartz's job being in jeopardy might have been exaggerated, there's no question that Lions ownership feels the same way as that player does. Ownership, I'm told, believes the team's culture -- including off-the-field arrests and on-field penalties -- is a problem.
"We go from the playoffs to a laughingstock in a year," the player said. "That's on us first. But everyone has to take the heat, including the coaches."
While it would be idiotic to fire a coach who just made the playoffs last year, these are the huge problems for Schwartz. The Lions had 33 turnovers this past season, sixth worst in the league. Their turnover ratio was third worst, and the 103 penalties is top 15 in the league.
Schwartz is a good coach, but he has been unable to overcome a huge hurdle: getting the Lions to play smart football.
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Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch echoed some of these sentiments when he recently told NFL.com, speaking of on- and off-the-field issues: "It started in the offseason, spending all that time on all those issues. And that wound up lingering into the season, those distractions," he said. "And then you look at it, and last year, a lot of things went our way, we were winning games the way we're losing them this year.
"And I think we've had changes in the secondary 13 times in 16 weeks because of that. It's hard to get chemistry, when guys are hurting the team like that and you feel like you can't count on them. I try to put my finger on whether there's a bigger problem, but I get lost trying to pinpoint what it is. We need more accountability. Hopefully, we can weed that out this offseason."
If Schwartz does survive this offseason but the Lions don't get more disciplined in 2013, there will be massive firings. And not just on the coaching staff.