Here are a few quick thoughts that I have before I head off to Ford Field for the afternoon.
I don’t even like to write about the Detroit Lions right now because they just make me too upset. They have the talent on offense, and their defense has been playing far better than expected, but their play calling has been utterly terrible.
The offensive play calling in the first half is always terrible. They can’t move the ball and then the defense stays on the field too long. They give up points and get in a hole and it’s usually deep enough where they can’t come back. It’s the same theme every week pretty much, and it’s terrible to watch. They need their second half play calling, the sheer aggressiveness of it, to be their play calling in the first half. They need to get after the defense and get the ball in the hands of Calvin Johnson as much as possible, even if he is banged up.
Regardless of who they are going to get the ball too, they need to keep the defense off the field. With all of their injuries, they have no depth and the starters get extremely tired. Then next thing you know, the fourth quarter comes around, they have no gas and then Adrian Peterson gashes you and he ends up with 171 yards after keeping him in check for most of the game.
Too often they get behind and can’t catch up. You can’t play catch up every single game, you ruin all of your luck, and not every team is going to have a late game collapse against you. This team needs to mature, and they need to get some better run blocking. Sure LeShoure had a great game against Jacksonville, but the Jaguars are an utter embarrassment to the NFL.
I know exactly how to fix this team and that’s why they’re so frustrating to watch. It’s as simple as being more aggressive with your play calling. By scoring more in the first half, and being able to move the ball, it will help your injury ravaged defense. They need to be rested as often as possible, and even more so now that Amari Spievey was put on the IR today. It’s a quick and simple fix and I’m not sure why the coaching staff won’t do it.
They had a decent game last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the defense played great for three quarters, but turnovers killed them. Ndamukong Suh had a pretty dominant game, and obviously Calvin Johnson had an amazing performance, but it simply wasn’t enough. They got behind by too much, too early, and when they had to play catch up and when their defense had to make a stop, they merely couldn’t because they were too tired. This is like playing with fire each week and it has to stop. The offensive line has protected Stafford and opened holes up decently; I truly believe that the offense has been almost as effective as last year, the only difference is that the play calling is utterly terrible. This poor season has been on the coaching staff. Yes, the injuries haven’t helped, but they need to re-evaluate whether Scott Linehan is the man for the job at offensive coordinator.
I’ll have more to say later I’m sure.
If it helps, since Schwartz took over in 2009 (thru how the playoff standings look in 2012 at week 11), the Lions are 2-24 against playoff caliber teams, and those two wins were the thrashing of the 8-8 Tebow led Broncos last year, and the 7-3 win over the Packers in 2010 when Rodgers was out for 2.5 quarters. So the only reason they’re a disappointment is because you had your expectations set too high. Re-calibrate your expectations back to being a 6-10/7-9 ish team and all will be well.
Put another way, the Packers were 15-1 last year when they really were a 12-4 team. But the schedule was very kind and games just kept tumbling into the W column. Well, if the Packers are now about an 11-5 team against this year’s slate of teams, and the Packers and Lions play pretty much the same schedules, it stands to reason that if the Lions were 10-6 last year they’d lose 3-4 more due to the schedule going from a -5% gradient to about a +30% gradient this year. The Lions LOOKED better on paper, but they still weren’t that good. Whatever puffery was involved with the Packers in 2011 contributed to the mirage of increased potency for the Lions.