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Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 - Week #17 Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears


The 7-9 Detroit Lions narrowly beat the 6-10 Chicago Bears 24-20 to finish 3rd in the division and a couple of games away from making the playoffs.

Matthew Stafford was 28 of 39 (71.795%) for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. The Lions offense managed only 67 yards rushing but the Lions defense did get 3 interceptions on Jay Cutler. It was definitely a team effort.

Now that the season is over all eyes turn towards the front office and the eventual hiring of a general manager, or at the very least, the confirmation of Sheldon White being named the permanent instead of temporary general manager. The only front office name I've heard that intrigues me is Duke Tobin the personnel director with the Cincinnati Bengals. His method to build a team is nearly identical to mine based I what I have read on him and I hope he is in the mix for GM for the Lions (note: I heard others talking about Hugh Jackson, Bengals OC, as a possible Lions HC candidate, that along with Duke Tobin intrigues me as well).

Once the GM situation is set, and as I have stated before, then the head coaching job can be addressed. Since Caldwell has 2 years remaining on his contract you can bet the Fords would like to find that their new GM would want to keep him on (as I'm sure it'll cost the Fords' between $8 and $12 million to fire him). Unfortunately, Caldwell has made a lot of in game errors that are hard to overlook, but many a fan is willing to overlook them if it means that Jim Bob Cooter can remain as the OC (most want Austin as the DC too, but word is he will be a hot item for head coaching jobs around the league). It's entirely possible a new head coach would be willing to keep Cooter on as the OC, but all this remains to be seen.

Speaking of Cooter, I charted the passing production of one Matthew Stafford for the entire season (this does not include any running plays of any kind). You will note that under Lomdardi Stafford was improved to around 65% completion percentage but under Cooter he further improved to 69%... even though his yardage was practically the same (on average per game). His TD to INT ratio was superb under Cooter though, as were the wins/losses, so it's no wonder fans are willing to put up with Caldwell if it means retaining Cooter. Anyway, here is my raw data for your review... I will be back with more team analysis in the near future.

2015 Lions Staffords Numbers

2015 Completions Attempts Percentage Yards TDs Int
Lombardi at OC            
Chargers 19 30 0.6333 246 2 2
Vikings 32 53 0.6038 286 2 1
Broncos 31 45 0.6889 282 1 2
Seahawks 24 35 0.6857 203 0 0
Cardinals 20 32 0.6250 188 1 3
Bears 27 42 0.6429 405 4 1
Vikings 18 26 0.6923 256 2 0
Totals 171 263 0.6502 1866 12 9
Average 24.429 37.571 0.653 266.571 1.714 1.286
Median 24.000 35.000 0.643 256.000 2.000 1.000
Cooter at OC            
Chiefs 22 36 0.6111 217 1 2
Packers 24 38 0.6316 242 2 1
Raiders 22 35 0.6286 282 0 0
Eagles 27 38 0.7105 337 5 0
Packers 23 35 0.6571 220 2 0
Rams 30 46 0.6522 245 2 1
Saints 22 25 0.8800 254 3 0
49ers 29 37 0.7838 301 2 0
Bears 28 39 0.7179 298 3 0
Totals 227 329 0.6900 2396 20 4
Average 25.222 36.556 0.697 266.222 2.222 0.444
Median 24.000 37.000 0.657 254.000 2.000 0.000

Last Updated on 1/3/2016
By NetRat

After completing the blog to this point I realized there was a lot of other information already available and I wanted to include it in this blog so I am making an addition/correction entry as follows:

The Lions will be drafting in the 16th spot in the 2016 draft due to their strength of schedule and record of 7-9.

The Lions opponents for 2016 both home and away are now known, though the exact schedule won't be released until near the date of the draft. The opponents are:

Home: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams.

Away: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints.

The Lions DC Austin is being linked to head coaching interviews by Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns, and is likely to also be mentioned for any other head coaching vacancy.

I have one last note to impart on my readers, one that might perhaps change your opinion on whether to keep Caldwell and/or Austin or not. The Lions lost a game to the Packers due to a hail mary pass that wasn't defended properly if you recall, that swing in the score would've had the Packers at 9-7 and the Lions at 8-8, but the Lions would've owned the tie breaker against the Packers as they would've beat them twice this year. Add to that the ball that was illegally batted out of the end of the end zone in the Seahawks game, that apparently our HC didn't know was illegal and some say didn't argue it enough at the time, which may have allowed the Lions to win that game and they would be 9-7 and I do believe would have made the playoffs in the 2015 season at 9-7 as a wildcard team (and 2nd in the division). Yeah, in summary, a batted ball in the end zone and a hail mary pass prevented the Lions from making the playoffs in a year when they were "hot" as the playoffs approached (near as I can tell). I leave you to chew on that for a few days.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 - Week #16 Detroit Lions vs San Francisco 49ers @ Home


The 6-9 Detroit Lions schooled the 4-11 San Francisco 49ers 32 to 17 this afternoon making it an impressive 5 wins out the past 7 games since the Lions front office was "reorganized".

Matthew Stafford was 29 of 37 (78.378%) for 301 yards 2 Touchdowns and 0 Interceptions. The TDs were 1 from Joique Bell rushing one from CJ receiving and the first TD ever for T.J. Jones also receiving. The Lions defense allowed 121 yards rushing and 225 yards passing with 2 TDs. Everyone on the Lions had a pretty good game but I have to give Stafford the award for MVP this game and MLB Tulloch the goat award, if I were giving out awards that is. In fact, the only player on defense failing his job interview for next year (via playing out the losing season) is Stephen Tulloch. On offense it's a tie between various member of the offensive line. More on player evaluation in a later blog entry though.

As for coaching, it took DC Austin half the season but he finally has the defense playing fairly decent, the special teams coach has them doing little wrong, and Jim Bob Cooter is doing a phenomenal job at OC after taking over from Lombardi making few rookie OC mistakes and getting the entire O to play quality football, or at least well enough within their limitations. With most of these same players and adding a quality MLB and some OL talent this team would be down right productive. Throw in a left DE, another DB, and some depth here and there and they could easily make some noise in the playoffs... but will the majority of the team stay intact? Will the coaching staff be replaced in mass or kept mostly intact? Who will be the new GM and what will he do with the coaching staff? Will the new GM be able to add the talent needed to put the team over the top or will we begin another period of perpetual rebuild? So many questions and at this point in time, no answers.

The next and final game of the 2015 season will be next Sunday outside against the Chicago Bears. If these coaches can get this team to play solid ball outside away in a losing season that will likely go a long way as far as their own personal resumes. It certainly has been a tale of two halves this year, the half with Lombardi and Mayhew and company, and the half without them in the picture. The 2nd half picture is of pro quality, the other, poor paint-by-number water colors in comparison.

Color me impressed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 - Week #15 Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints (Monday Night Football)

To do.

The 5-9 Detroit Lions narrowly escaped with a win over the 5-9 New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football this week with a score of 35-27. Matthew Stafford was an astounding 22 of 25 (88%) for 254 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions. Drew Brees was 34 of 52 (65.3846%) for 341 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions. While both men did a lot for their teams it takes the whole team to win football games and this time the Lions team beat the Saints team, much to the chagrin of draft aficionados. You see, by winning the game the Lions move down in the upcoming 2016 draft selecting later then they otherwise would have. Myself, I want the Lions to win games. You can find good players to pick up anywhere in the draft (and an equal or better number of bad ones) but instilling the will to win is much harder to do.

RB Ameer Abdullah went for 77 yards rushing and 12 yards receiving plus a touchdown while RB Joique Bell was 71 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving plus a touchdown. The Lions were able to establish a run game (finally) and it helped in all facets of the offense. The top receiver (in yards) this game was TE Eric Ebron with 79 yards. Perhaps he too is progressing in his education of what it takes to be successful in the NFL, but there is still much to do.

The Lions are still in need a of GM yet they aren't allowed to talk to members of other front offices until said team is out of their season, that's weeks away yet for many teams and many more for those in the playoffs. Until the GM is decided upon the head coach (Caldwell) won't know if he will remain as HC. Until then, the OC and DC don't know their status and so on for the rest of the coaching staff. Once we know who the coaches are then we can find out what schemes might be implemented, and from there which players on the Lions roster fit those schemes, and which do not. In addition to that, there are preparations for free agency and the before mentioned draft. Yet none of it goes anywhere until the GM is sitting at his desk (unless he already is, the Lions do have a temporary GM in place).

I would love to do more player evaluation but really, until I know which direction everyone should be pointed towards there isn't much to do in that area. I suppose I'll just bide my time watching the Lions win (or lose) their remaining games. Next up, the final home game of 2015 against the San Francisco 49ers on the 27th. Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2015 - Week #14 Detroit Lions @ St Louis Rams

The end.

The 4-9 Detroit Lions lost to the 5-8 St Louis Rams 14-21 today, ending any talk about making the playoffs for the Lions in 2015 who have taken sole ownership of last place in the NFC. The only score in the first half was by Trumaine Johnson of the Rams who took Stafford's interception back for a TD. Trumaine also held CJ to just one catch for 16 yards, although CJ did run the wrong route twice by my count, probably due to Cooter installing new plays each week as he moves further away from the Lombardi disaster type of offense.

Mathew Stafford was 30 of 46 (65.217%) for 245 yards 2 TDs and 1 INT. He wasn't as sharp as he has been in recent games and that helped to improve the Lions draft position (meaning he helped them lose). Casey Keenum was held to almost half that many yards (124) with no TDs and an INT, but the Lions defense allowed 203 yards rushing so it didn't matter. In the end the Rams did just enough to win the game. Well, some would argue, they had a little help from the officiating, which was exceedingly poor this game.

On top of the poor rush defense, the poor Lions offense, the inadequate quarterbacking, and various other head scratching items there was the TE Eric Ebron (3 catches for 27 yards) versus the DT Aaron Donald (3 sacks and 4 tackles) comparison (due to the 2014 draft). A large part of the Donald success in this game was due to the extremely poor offensive line play which while improved from earlier in the year is still a long way from being NFL ready.

We still don't know who the Lions GM will be for next year, and with that we don't know who the coaching staff will be since most new GMs would want a new coaching staff, so it's still going to be hard to talk draft, but that is where we are at this year. Had the Lions continued their short winning streak from a few weeks ago it was possible the interim GM and OC would remain in their positions along with the rest of the coaching staff but now that the Lions are moving the wrong way in the standings the needle is starting to swing into the other direction. I now longer know what to expect at the end of the year as things stand now.

As time permits I will update my salary cap chart and perhaps create a 2016 estimated depth chart so we may begin the slow arduous task of talking "next year" in December of "this year" once again. Welcome to the new version of the same old Lions everyone.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

2015 - Week #13 Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers @ Home on Thursday Night Football


The 4-8 Detroit Lions lost to the 8-4 Green Bay Packers 23-27 due to a successful last minute hail-mary pass with time expired by the Packers. They took an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter but could not put the game away, partially due to going too conservative (on both O and D) and partially due to officiating (though it could have gone in many directions with the various calls and non-calls all game long). Anyway, the Lions are now last in the division, in fact, they are now last in the NFC.

Matthew Stafford was 23 of 35 (65.714%) for 220 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Rodgers had exactly one more completion but it was the one that won the game on the final play, so it was relatively important. Most are blaming the head coach Caldwell but I tend to lean towards the DC on this one as Austin definitely had not put in a hail-mary defense... and I suspect he was not overruled by Caldwell, though I could be wrong.

. I waited until the last minute to write this blog as I was out of town Thursday night and then unavailable to do so until now. By last minute I mean the Lions have their week 14 game tomorrow when they play the St Louis Rams. I'm sure the Ebron versus Donald contingent will be in full force so here's hoping that Donald has a quiet day and Ebron does very well, just so I don't have to hear about it for the next 3 or 4 YEARS.

Maybe this game the Lions will attack, both on offense and defense, then actually continue to do so for the rest of the game, because a 3 score lead means nothing if you are going to give up 3 scores in the second half and then a 4th as time expires. No, it would be, as I state on a continual basis, best to attack for a full 60 minutes, or even 60 minutes and 1 second. If you know what I mean.

No amount of talent can beat the other team, the officiating, and then poor coaching on your own team, regardless of how good you are. Having to do so is how you end up last, and last is only good if we're talking about the draft spot in round 1 (meaning you won the superbowl, not traded the pick to move there).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 - Week #12 Detroit Lions vs Philadelphia Eagles @ Home on Thanksgiving Day

Thank you.

The 4-7 Detroit Lions whooped on the 4-7 Philadelphia Eagles 45-14 in an impressive victory on Thanksgiving Day. Considering it was the 2nd game the Lions played (and won) in a 4 day span the fact the Lions came out and played hard, under control, and with proper execution is almost beyond imagining, especially after the way the season started. As a big time Lions fan all I can say is thank you. In the only game being played and nationally televised it's great to not have to hide my Lions apparel for the upcoming weekend. Jim Bob Cooter had the offense making play after play and the Lions defense took the excitement they generated and turned it up another notch.

Matthew Stafford was 27 of 38 (71.05%) for 337 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions and he two runs for another 13 yards on top of that. I understand his passer rating was 137.8 but more importantly, he looked like the QB we have all been expecting for, well, ever. Cooter has the OL blocking better, the offense is once again productive, and the play calling is not predictable nor appearing lost. I still lament the switch from Lombardi to Cooter didn't happen 4 weeks sooner, but thank you for finally making the switch.

Calvin Johnson had 3 touchdowns to go with the one from Theo Riddick and Golden Tate not to mention the one rushing TD from Joique Bell. In total the Lions exceeded 100 yards once again in the run game and spread the catches around to 8 different players. I have no complaints about the play calling, the officiating, the defense, the offense, the QB, any of the coaching, nothing. I feel I should be complaining about something, but in all honesty, I just don't want to. The game was a thing of beauty. I'd rather just lavish in the wonderful feeling it produced.

Next up is another Thursday night game, at home (for the 3rd time in a row), against the Green Bay Packers. Lions fans are going to be hoping for a sweep after the Lions already beat the Packers in Green Bay just 3 weeks ago. After that game the Lions travel to St Louis and then New Orleans, some more tests for the newly revived team (and updated coaching staff). I'm actually looking forward to it. Go Lions, and thank you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 - Week #11 Detroit Lions vs Oakland Raiders @ Home


The 3-7 Detroit Lions beat the 4-6 Oakland Raiders at home 18-13 despite losing the lead in the 3rd quarter with too many conservative play calls. Once the Lions turned back up the heat they retook the lead and kept it for the win. They now have only 4 days to prepare the entire team for the Thanksgiving day game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matthew Stafford was 22 of 35 (62.857%) for 282 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Lions even managed to rush for 109 yards if you include Stafford as one of the 5 rushers. More importantly, the defense held Carr to 13 of 25 (52%) for only 169 yards also with no touchdowns or interceptions. There actually was an interception by Diggs but the officials called holding on Lawson (when there was none) and the play was voided. The Lions defense did get a safety in a game that saw no official turnovers lost by either team.

The Raiders gave up one sack while the Lions offensive line gave up 4. Had the Lions drafted better offensive line players and then developed them correctly it's entirely possible the team would've had a winning record this year, well that and had they fired Lombardi and the offensive line coaches much sooner then they did. Still, it's great to see the team winning games once again even though there is basically no chance of them making the playoffs. It means the people who were fired were in fact the correct ones that needed to go. Now it's a matter of getting a GM who can actually improve the team through the draft rather then making the roster worse. Whether that person is already an employee of the Lions or if they go outside the organization remains to be seen, I know where my money is even if it's not what I would want them to do. But if it's not Xanders or White or someone else already working there then perhaps it'll be an experienced qualified individual who can build and sustain a winning team. This year has proven it's more then just the players that are needed to make a team win.

Another aspect of the team that appears to have helped them win games is the benching or replacing of various players that were not producing as expected. At right tackle Michael Ola took over for LeAdrian Waddle in the middle of the first quarter last week and kept the job this week which has helped the OL somewhat. Ola was picked up by the Lions on 10-21 most likely under the recommendation of the current interim GM White (who was in charge of pro-personnel then). Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus has seen the majority of snaps at starting safety over James Ihedigbo which also began last week. Finally, I've been seeing linebacker Tahir Whitehead instead of Travis Lewis though that may be due to injury rather then production. Identifying which players deserve snaps took way too long but it finally happened and it's likely the recent team shakeup (White?) is responsible for this as well.

The more this team wins the more they prove that a complete sweep and rebuild may not be necessary. A new GM is going to want his own coaches and they as a group their own starting QB and so forth. The wins and these other facts make me believe that Mrs Ford and her daughter might keep White in as the GM to see if he can improve the drafting and thus the team without the need of replacing the entire coaching staff and the roster turnover that always follows that type of move. Many fans won't want to hear me say this, but a handful of moves appears to have made this team competitive, it's quite possible the owners will not further upset the apple cart unless things turn back down again. Especially when a simple "salary cap advisor" position (newly created) might solve the remainder of the problems this team has endured lately.