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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Game 11 Green Bay Packers @ Home

Didn't help.

The now 7-4 Lions got whooped on by the now 11-0 Green Bay Packers by a score of 15-27 today during the first game of the Thanksgiving NFL football marathon. In preseason I had predicted the Lions would lose this game 24-31 and last night in my forum I altered my prediction to say the team that scores first would win 31-24. I guess you could say I was fairly close in these predictions but it sure didn't help the Lions playoff hopes by losing a game they failed to be even competitive in.

I suppose you could say the defenses were competitive for a large portion of the first half when the score was 0-0 until the Lions lost their composure. A lot will be said about one specific aspect of the game, that being the actions of Ndamukong Suh, but even before that occurred things weren't going well for the Lions. What Suh did didn't help, that is for sure, getting himself evicted from the game and allowing the Packers to score a TD instead of a field goal after the yardage and automatic first down were tacked on... but what Stafford and company was doing didn't help either.

Suh might think he as just trying to get up off the ground... or perhaps he thought he was trying to shake loose from being grasped by the leg (I can't tell if that was true in the one angle from the video I saw or not) but what it appears to most is that Suh smacked the players head into the ground multiple times and then stomped or kicked the arm of said player on his way away from the pile. The appearance of this act is what drew the flag, it's what got him evicted, it's what will get him fined, and it might get him games (as in more then one game) suspended without pay. This link will explain what I mean:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Ndamukong-Suh-Detroit-Lions-unsportsmanlike-conduct-suspension-112411

Suh comments after the act (but before he has seen the film) make me believe he doesn't know what it looks like to everyone watching. He made a rather odd apology to his "true" fans, teammates and his coaches but nothing about the act itself which doesn't help his case any. I'm not sure what it is he thinks happened or did in fact happen, but take it from me, that won't matter now, it's all about the appearance of what happened so unless someone has a different camera angle or someone in that pile was mic'd, this is going to remain a black mark for a very long time on Suh's reputation and it's going to cost him and the team plenty, now and later.

Now prior to the eviction (and after as well) there were many questionable officiating calls which didn't help the attitude of the players (or this fan) at all. By my count nearly a third of the calls were suspect if not outright wrong. That kind of repeated abuse of power will get most any player upset. It's hard to win if you are upset. It's hard to keep your composure if you're upset. I would've loved to speak at length about each penalty but for the first time in ages I failed to record the game so I can't play it back.

Aside from Suh missing over half the game, the yardage and penalty his flag generated, the poor attitude of the players in general for questionable calls, and the yardage those penalties either gave or killed, there were many other parts of this game that didn't help.

It didn't help that Kevin Smith was injured with what looks like a high ankle sprain and was lost for a lot of the game (and probably the next 3 or 4 games as well).

It didn't help that some of the receivers continue to drop the ball at critical times.

It didn't help to have 3 interceptions regardless of who's fault it was.

It didn't help that Stafford mostly threw short passes and for the third week doesn't appear to be fully devoted to the game being played. Has he lost faith in the play calling? His teammates? The officiating? The fans? The work he has to do now that he's not got a separated shoulder? I don't know what it is, but for whatever reason he just doesn't seem to be as engaged or competitive as he should appear. This of course could just be me... until I have more information I'll leave it at that.

Speaking of facts, let's get back to that... Stafford connected on 32 of his 45 passes for 1 TD, 1 two point conversion, and 3 interceptions. He was credited with 276 yards 81 of which went to Maurice Morris the highest receiver of the day by far (all the check downs didn't help the score in my opinion).

Jason Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal but I'm giving him some slack as he's on his 3rd holder in less then 2.5 weeks. The punting game didn't help with field position though, it sure would be nice to get that part of the game fixed.

There were so many injuries to the defensive backs that Rashied Davis WR played DB for a large portion of the game. That didn't help with the score either, though I'm glad he was able to contribute as much as he did. Perhaps it would be smart to have more then 4 CBs active when you play the best O in the league, but that's just me.

The Lions were 2 for 2 in the redzone, it just didn't help that they only visited the redzone twice. I'm not sure how the coaching staff is going to fix this, but they face the Packers again in week 17 at Lambeau Field and if they are able to get themselves 3 more wins before then, they may have a chance at the playoffs (and may end up facing the Packers a third time) so "it" has to be fixed, whatever "it" is.

I would start making these repairs by fixing the things that didn't help this game.

ps. Coaches, Players, anyone else involved, it's a lot easier to win if you are having fun. Figure that small part out and it'll go a long ways too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Game 10 Carolina Panthers @ Home

Record breaking.

The now 7-3 Detroit Lions came from behind to defeat the Carolina Panthers 49-35. Trailing at one point by 17 points early in the game and with a half time score of just 14-27, the Lions managed to come back for the third time this year from 3 scores down to win the game. That kind of come back hasn't happened in a single season in modern NFL history (since there began to be superbowls for example).

Matthew Stafford threw for 335 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs completing 28 of 36 throws... and what is truly remarkable, not one of those TD passes was to Calvin Johnson! The 5 TDs went to 5 players though... Burleson, Titus Young, Pettigrew, Scheffler and (drum roll please) Kevin Smith RB. Yes, that Kevin Smith. To go along with his 61 yards receiving, Kevin Smith had 140 yards rushing with two more TDs on only 16 attempts. I think the Lions have found (or re-found if that's a word) their running back.

The Lions generated 495 yards of total offense and allowed the Panthers 409 yards of total offense. This was a good new fashioned shoot out and once the Lions stopped turning the ball over they were able to pound away at the scoreboard and wake the crowd up big time. Hopefully the Lions can skip the slow start next game since it's in only 4 days and against the Green Bay Packers.

Stafford is very quickly closing in on all the Lions passing records. It won't be long until he holds them all, even though this is his only 3rd year in the league (with less then 2 years worth of actual playing time).

I'm looking forward to the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game this year... there's a chance for the Lions to make another name for themselves by being the team to beat the undefeated Green Bay Packers. They will need to play like they did the 2nd half of this game and not at all like they did last week or in the first quarter this week, but to a man they each know they can do it... they just need to take a deep breath and execute the plays.

If they continue to do that, they will break all kinds of records.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Game 9: Lions at Chicago Bears

Fix it.

The Lions lose this game before my local television station can get away from the Atlanta-New Orleans game that went into overtime. The final score 13-37 (the Lions game, not the Falcons/Saints game which I didn't want to keep watching but had no choice in the matter). The Lions need to figure out what is wrong and fix it.

You wouldn't think the Lions would be the losing team if all I told you about was Cutler. He managed a dismal 9 completions for 123 yards and no touchdowns. No, it wasn't the run game that killed them; Forte had only 64 yards and 1 TD. Obviously the wide receivers also had no touchdowns. So how did the Lions lose? By allowing their new found punter to kick to Hester and by playing their injured QB who threw not one but two pick sixes.

What was wrong with Stafford you ask? All game long everyone questioned why he needed to wear gloves when it wasn't raining, and wasn't cold. I was pretty sure something was up and sure enough, after the game, it was revealed, here's the link:

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/13/stafford-played-with-broken-finger/

I think I can safely blame the coaches for playing their QB with the broken finger instead of one of their other QBs who have 10 good digits. I might even find blame for the coaching in having their fresh-off-the-street punter kick to Hester (who also got a TD today). I can't blame the coaches for allowing my local tv channel for not switching to the Lions game when it started, nor for the two fumbles that occurred during that time when I wasn't able to watch the game. But I'm sure if I re-watched the game I could find many more times to blame the coaches for something.

The 6-3 Lions aren't going to be going to the playoffs if they don't fix a few things. The list is short, yet covers a broad spectrum of "team".

Coaching. Fix it.
Quarterback. Fix it.
Kicking/Punting. Fix it.

Can't do much about the weather and since that affects both sides equally I don't even care. Can't do much about the officiating either, which is much worse then the ever changing weather. But the decisions being made by the coaching staff can be improved. The (by appearances) nonchalant acting quarterback (3 weeks now it seems like) can have a fire lit under his back side and his focus improved. I'm also a little tired with the kicking (most should be in the back of the end zone) and by the punting (why did we get rid of Harris again?). Fix it. All of it.

Get these few (but big) things fixed, then you can begin to work on the little things again. You got 7 weeks to win at least 4 games and none of those games will be a cakewalk. The Bears meanwhile, if you look at their schedule, is pretty much the opposite. Time to focus... every snap, every game, make them all count.

Starting with next weeks game and the one that is only 4 days after that on Thanksgiving day. Speaking of that, being that there are 2 games in the next 11 days, wouldn't it have been wise to sit the QB with the broken finger and... oh never mind, already said it. Once again, coaching, fix it.