Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 11/13/14

ALLEN PARK, MI - AUGUST 04: Head coach Jim Schwartz looks on during training camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on August 4, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The atmosphere inside Ford Field was especially intense leading up to the kickoff of the Detroit holiday classic. The Green Bay Packers entered undefeated and the Detroit Lions were in need of a statement win over a quality opponent.

The Lions defense held strong against the explosive Packers despite being plagued by a series of bad penalties. The officiating wasn't particularly terrible but there were a few questionable calls. Mainly, Detroit just could not get out of their own way.

Green Bay picked up consecutive first downs on penalties in the second quarter (if memory serves correctly). If the Lions are going to compete for a spot in the playoffs, they cannot continue to give opponents extra opportunities. The New Orleans Saints have a similarly explosive offense that will gladly turn those additional plays into points.

The repetitive nature of the penalties demonstrates that it is time for Jim Schwartz to take the next step in his growth as a head coach. Enough cannot be said for the turnaround that he and general manager Martin Mayhew have constructed after the disastrous 2008 season. Yet, that doesn't mean each man doesn't have new things to learn.

Schwartz has not called out star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh publicly on too many occasions. He may do so behind closed doors but there isn't proof to indicate such a conclusion. In fact, after Suh was ejected for an extracurricular stomping of an offensive lineman, Schwartz essentially supported his player and subtly questioned the call.

This was not the correct response. It is time for Schwartz to make sure the team understands that such actions will not be tolerated. Not because of morality but because good football teams cannot make such stupid mistakes. Suh's stomp came after the Lions stopped the Packers on third down giving and resulted in Green Bay receiving a first down from the three. The Packers promptly scored and instead of being down 10, the Lions were down two touchdowns without their best defensive player.

The Lions play with passion, intensity and an edge. All of these characteristics are sure to lead to success but not if they are combined with dumb mistakes. Schwartz must impress upon the players that they will be held accountable for these errors that cost the team a chance at winning. The best example he can set for the rest of the players is not taking it easy on his best player.

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