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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Game 15 - 2009 @ SanFrancisco 49ers

Too many turnovers!

Lions lose number 20 in a row on the road and fall to 2-13 for the season and this time it was because of too many turnovers.

Yeah, there were a few of the individual mistakes here and there. Even a penalty or two. But for the most part, all of that was kept to a minimum. However, the Lions kept turning the ball over. If Stanton didn't do it himself, then one of the players would. Of course, I had the 49ers defense in my fantasy league superbowl and won because of them, so I can't help but be a little bit happy about the turnovers... but as a Lion fan first and foremost I can still complain about them.

The front office may have found out a few things in this game, like that Cohen will be able to help the team and that without their #1 TE and #1 RB they need more depth on the offense... but I think they also found out something about their QBs. What they intend to do about it (if anything) I do not know, but should they actually improve the roster and start winning next year and should Stafford go down then they may need to be a little concerned about depth at QB. What with the defense and offense still not running on all cylinders even after 15 games this season there is something I foresee from the front office this off season... more turnovers, as in more roster turnover and shuffling of players on or off the team.

The coaching staff couldn't have been happy with the turnovers either. Here they fix this or that problem to some extent by benching various players and then something new rears it's head. I bet that flight home wasn't nearly as pleasant as it could've been. Neither will it be all that pleasant on Monday I suspect. So I expect to see a little more turnover of the starting roster come next week.

The players themselves are starting to divide themselves up into three groups... those that have "it", those who do not, and those who can't play consistently enough to fall into either category. Those that have "it" will be the core of the team next year. Those who have "it" one week or one play and not the next will probably be back but will have a fight to make the roster. Those that don't have "it" and have proven so will be turning over their playbooks in about a week and day or two.

As we enter the upcoming off season it'll be interesting to watch the moves the team makes (as usual). There may be a few twists... the Lions coaching staff may end up coaching the senior bowl at the end of January... the Lions will likely draft 2nd or maybe 1st... and there may be no CBA in which to concern the front office with a salary cap... so guys like Bryan Johnson, Dennis Northcutt and some others may need to prepare for another turnover of their own, that being from the NFL to the non-football life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Game 14 - 2009 Cardinals @ Home

Entertaining.

Well, it would have been if I could've seen more then 10% of the game. I was forced to watch it online and the feeds were pixelated horribly. However, I did get to see many of the key plays and was able to participate in the excitement that this game eventually had in it. Even though the Lions lost, it was a very entertaining game.

It didn't start out that way. Too many mistakes and bad play that seemed to be just getting worse and worse as the game went along. As half-time was about to began I posted in the MLive forum that Schwartz needed to bench Culpepper and play Stanton, not because I expected better QB play, but because the whole team needed a slap... something to wake them up. I got laughed at, of course, because so many seem to think that Stanton really would play QB better then Culpepper even without practice snaps most of the season with the starters, but I was proven correct.

The Lions got a spark, played to tie in the 3rd quarter (their best 3rd quarter all season) and only started to get lax in the 4th. They tried to rally again and fell short, but that is what made it so entertaining.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff is starting to figure out who needs to sit even during a game and who needs to get talked to in order for them to respond on the field. I am not so sure all the players have quite figured out yet that repeating the same mistakes will not be tolerated. Or maybe they do know it, they just aren't able to actually play mistake-free ball. That too is an important thing to learn. It's one thing to practice well, it's another to step it up when the team needs you to in a game. This coming off season should be nearly as interesting as last year. It's a shame that without a new CBA that free agency is going to be so... thin.

The coaches are figuring out how to motivate the players to finish the year without any chance of playoffs and in the end, this will make the team stronger.

Now if only Stafford could get healthy to continue his on the job training. He isn't ready to put the team on his shoulders and carry them just yet, but of the 3 QBs on the roster, he too is the most entertaining. And that is what the big picture of NFL football is all about, entertainment.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Game 13 - 2009 @ Baltimore Ravens

"should not have done that."

Instead of one word to describe much of what happened in this game, it's a whole sentence.

The refs, yeah, bad officiating if you ask me. I think I said they "should not have done that" about a half dozen times. Did it have much of an affect on the game? Not much, some yes, but not all that much.

One positive for the defense has been the run defense. Well they "should not have done that" a whole bunch today. Horrible terrible defense, both run and pass, in todays game. Many players just put a huge black mark on their resumes and there is a reason why the mark is bigger then most which I'll explain later.

The offense with Culpepper at QB is no where near as interesting as it is with Stafford. I don't think the depth chart will change even after this game, but I wonder if maybe should Culpepper start again if his leash won't be very short. Stanton needs another off season in the Linehan's offense before the coaches trust him (to start) but if Culpepper was trying to find a starting job next year well then he "should not have done that".

Kevin Smith, even though he is not exactly a home run threat, was and has been doing very well in the hard yardage department. 2nd on the team in receptions as well. Well, that injury he incurred during the game looked like a season ender to me. Yet another weapon gone. The 2-14 season prediction that some made is looking real probable now.

I could go on and on and on about various players, saying how they "should not have done that" but what's the point? No, there is but one major thing I alluded to earlier that matters in all this... and that is that this game was in the head coaches home state. All of Schwartz's family was there. Friends. Former teammates and coaches. Many of the people who came to watch in the pouring rain their guy be the head coach of the Lions... and to end up watching the team embarrass the head coach utterly and totally. They "should not have done that"!

What a week they have just made for themselves. How many changes are going to happen, both now and later. The anger on Schwartz's face should tell you that it is not going to be pleasant. As a huge fan of the team, I think it may help a ton in the end. There won't be any glossing this over, and there is not going to be much forgiveness unless earned. Many (and I do mean many) of the players in this game will be saying to themselves, both this week and at the end of the season, "boy I should not have done that" and they will be absolutely correct.

Game 12 - 2009 @ Cincinnati Bengals

Ouch. (Oh, sorry for the delay in posting this game blog)

The Lions gave away another one. Everything was going just fine until 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter when Stafford threw an interception for a touchdown (pick 6). Ouch, that hurt. After that, it was a race to see who could mess things up the best on any given play.

How a guy with a separated shoulder could take that many hits and not get knocked out sooner is beyond me, but knocked out of the game he did, near the very end of the game. And ouch, did it look horribly painful.

Culpepper had one great pass to CJ and a number of checkdowns but this team isn't quite ready for the come from 2 scores behind type game just yet. They have enough trouble with the one score behind. Heck, they have enough trouble with a score or two ahead.

Needless to say, this team has not come as far as I had anticipated back in preseason. I know it takes time to install a new O, or a new D, or in this case both. I know it takes time for rookie players to learn the NFL game. I know there are ups and downs. But I thought that near the end of this season at least the majority of the players on this team would be more up then down. I was wrong.

They are not able to overcome setback after setback, and they are not able to stop creating setbacks. Some of the players are starting to get it and some are beginning to prove they will never get it. That's another ouch. What looked like a half way decent off season in free agency is starting to look less then stellar now. That is a big OUCH. On the bright side, at least to me, the draft looks better and better. Now if they can do it again but leaning a little more on the defensive side of things.

Anyway, the Lions are looking (still) at the 4th pick in the draft, and even though the contract is another ouch... the chance at yet another difference maker is not.

I can only hope the next draft has no reasons in it to say ouch.