Jim Schwartz is under fire for the Detroit Lions' underachieving ways, but defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn't want to see his coach pay with his job for the team's failures.
"Am I playing for Jim's job? I think that's a part of it," Suh said Wednesday. "I'm sure everybody wants to win -- the owners expect winning -- but most importantly, you've got to play for winning, play to have a hunger to want to be a winner, and that's what I play for.
"Obviously, I don't want that coach to go anywhere. I love his scheme, love the way things go, but I don't think that has to do with anything right now. What we need to do is focus on getting these next two wins and, most importantly, we got to go and take care of business at home against the New York Giants."
The Lions have lost four of their last five games, blowing fourth-quarter leads in each defeat, and let go of the grip they appeared to have on the NFC North after the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers lost their starting quarterbacks for multiple weeks.
Jay Cutler rallied the Bears to a win last week, and Chicago (8-6) now sits atop the division with two games to play. The Packers (7-6-1) are a half-game up on the Lions, who need to win their final two games and have both Green Bay and Chicago lose once in order to win their first division title in 20 years.
The Bears and Packers play Week 17 in Chicago.
"We let go of an opportunity to put these other teams away," Suh said. "We opened the door back for them. We still have an opportunity to take care of business, and it's most important that we do our part, or none of it matters. And that's what we've yet to do, to this point, is do our part and close the door. So now we've let a bunch of ants in the house and now you've got to go get an exterminator to get them out."
How much blame Schwartz deserves for the Lions' recent struggles is up for debate, though several other players came to his defense Wednesday.
"You look at all the losses we've had, it's came down to plays we didn't make," receiver Nate Burleson said. "It seems like there's always a point in the game where we have a chance to extend the lead or put ourselves in position to control the rest of the game, and we don't do that, so we can't look further than the guys wearing the jerseys.
"Maybe it's just older guys talking; we want to shoulder the responsibility anyway. I think that's the best way to look at it anyway. The coward's way out is trying to point the finger in other directions. So if anybody wants to give criticism, give it to the players, not the coaches. They don't suit up. They make the calls that put us in the position to be successful, and we've got to capitalize and make those plays happen."
Safety Louis Delmas said players may have gotten too comfortable in their perch as division favorites.
"For all the talent we have ... there's no reason we shouldn't be undefeated, there's no reason we shouldn't have won more games," Delmas said. "But stuff happens. We definitely feel the pain that everybody else is feeling because we're actually the ones out there losing. We know what we're capable of and we know what it takes to get wins around here, and that's what we have to do."
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