The Detroit Lions are now all but officially eliminated from the playoffs. They play in the toughest division in the NFL and there is no end in sight to their struggles at this point. They choked this past Sunday. They had a lead and they just let the Packers go up and down the field no problem. Then when they had to make plays, they didn’t even get close to completing them. And now Titus Young has been suspended for behavior issues.
I personally thought that the Lions would be past this. They have been showing maturity for most of this year, but apparently Young isn’t ready to grow up. Young was in trouble this week for putting his own personal desires and goals ahead of the team. This type of selfishness will not be tolerated in the pros, and I’m glad they’re benching him. Quite honestly I’ve had enough of Titus. I wasn’t a fan when they drafted him out of Boise State, and he’s done nothing but act like a punk since he got here. He’s had one really good game in the last two years, and that gives you no reason to be cocky. He’s shown flashes of talent, but he spends most of his time taking plays off. They said that he wants to be “the man” in Detroit, but perhaps he should wake the hell up and realize that Calvin Johnson is the man. Titus Young will not be the one getting the majority of the targets and him whining about it is an utter joke. His behavior was so disgraceful that the wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson freaked out and yelled at offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
To make matters worse they’ll be playing a dominant HoustonTexans team on Thanksgiving and my guess is that it won’t be very pretty for Lions fans. Jeff Backus is out, ruining his consecutive start streak, and now we get to see the rookie Riley Reiff in action. Unfortunately Reiff looked horrible against the Packers and had two holding calls against him. To make things worse, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry weren’t even playing. He just looked very raw and like he could use more practice time. I think he’ll be a very good left tackle in the future, I just think he needs more time to develop and to not get thrown into the fire like he was on Sunday. Unfortunately he will probably line up against J.J. Watt more times than I care to count. We’ll see what he is made of on Thursday, that’s for sure.
The Lions offense will be in trouble this week, and Stafford has continued to not look very good. I still think he is the man for the job, but he is having a sub par year (obviously). He throws a lot off his back foot right now and I wonder if it is from that hamstring injury he had in Tennessee. When he throws off his back foot, the football sails high, which is why he keeps overthrowing everyone. Another issue I’ve noticed is a lot of defenses are playing a lot more zone defense against Stafford, and keeping the big plays away from him, and as a gunslinger this is a problem. A player like Stafford thrives off huge plays and throwing against man coverage, and he throws far more interceptions against zone coverage. I don’t know if this is because he can’t read the defense as well, or if he thinks that he has a strong enough arm to fit it into any window that he wants. Regardless, it hasn’t boded well for the Lions, since his TD:INT ratio is 12:10 for the season. Also, someone needs to teach him to not carry the ball like a loaf of bread when he scrambles with it.
I wasn’t happy with the defense, but even looking back at the game, the defense did a pretty good job containing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ explosive offense. If you had told me that the defense would have held the Packers to 24 points, I would have told you that we probably would have won. Too often though the defense gets caught on the field for too long and they get worn down, they need depth. It’s tough to come by obviously, but until they get some this will continue to happen. The defense needs to make a stop and they don’t because they’re gassed. The offense has to settle for field goals too often and is turning the ball over far too much. Until they get the offense figured out, the defense can’t help them.
It seems as though this isn’t going to be a quick fix at the moment, and you have to start wondering at what point does Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan feel the hot seat. I’m not ready to dump Schwartz, but I’ve obviously said many times before that I’m good with dumping Linehan. They need another runningback to help spell Mikel LeShoure, and they need serious help in the secondary. They are just completely injury-ravaged and this is something that they will have to fix in April. There’s a zero percent chance that they get this fixed now and we’re just going to have to deal with the impending losses. Not only are the Lions not playing well, but they have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the entire league; something that is terribly unfortunate for this team.
I would like to say that I haven’t given up hope for this year, but I’d be lying. There are just too many good teams in the NFC this year, and too many times the Lions lost games that they should have won or needed to win. In this instance it’s best to start planning for next year. The Lions have a solid core and will continue to be competitive, but they need to get some more pieces in order to complete this puzzle and make it to the playoffs consistently each year. They’re close, very close, but they need another year.