Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 Game 5 - Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers


The Detroit Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers 9-22 making it 23 times in a row they lose to the Packers in Wisconsin. To put that in perspective, the last time the Lions won in Wisconsin Mrs. Stafford was still poddy training Mathew Stafford. Saying it's been a long time would not be the least inaccurate.

The Packers were ranked 11th in run defense and 27th in pass defense, yet the Lions made them look nearly impossible to score on. It did not help that Calvin Johnson was not active due to injury this game, Calvin Johnson makes Stafford look accurate (as he would any QB he played with). With Burleson still out due to a broken arm (caused by a wayward pizza box) that left the Lions starting their 3rd, 4th and at times 5th string WRs (the last just signed a week ago). Am I going to blame the WRs for the loss this week? Nope. They ran their routes to the best of their abilities and experience.

The backup wide receivers were not the only options to catch passes, all the tight ends and running backs were available to catch any throws that went their way, and they ARE starters in the league. Tight ends' Pettigrew and Scheffler both had 4 catches for 59 and 55 yards respectively and led the team in yards. RBs Bush and Bell had 4 catches as well for 25 and 30 yards respectively. Durham had 3 catches; Broyles, Ogletree and Edwards had 2 apiece to complete the receiving numbers. Add them all up and Stafford was 25 of 40 for 262 yards with 1 Td and 0 Int's (but with 1 fumble). Most of those numbers coming in the 4th quarter when the Packers went into a prevent defense allowing the Lions to move down the field for their only touchdown. The run game was equally anemic, Bush had 13 carries for 44 yards, Bell 5 for 21. Despite 3.5 to 4 yards per run, the Lions only tried to run on about a third of the offensive plays. It's the coaching staffs job to find matchups and plays that might work with the players they have and the players job to execute those plays. Do I blame the coaching staff for the loss this week? Nope. Oh sure, there appears they could've made other decisions that might (or might not) have worked better, but I'm not convinced in the end that the results would have been significantly different.

There were 3 fumbles all recovered by the team who fumbled, no interceptions by either side, 3rd down efficiency was nearly identical for both teams, the Packers had more penalties, Lions made their only field goal attempt, Packers made all 5 of theirs, both teams had but a single touchdown apiece. Turnovers were non-existent so both teams were pretty much even in all respects with the possible exception of allowing the long play. The longest play the Packers allowed was 25 yards, the Lions allowed an 83 yard TD. Am I going to blame the defense for the loss? Nope. They held the Packers to a single TD on their field even if they did allow 2 big plays during the game (the other being a 67 yard rush by Cobb, yes, a trick play so to speak).

Mathew Stafford was without his #1 and #2 wide receivers and never really made many good throws back to back until the game was out of reach and the Packers went into prevent late in the 4th quarter. His passes were high, low, and behind the intended targets. In a word, he was very inaccurate. More so then a starting QB in the NFL should be. Do I blame Stafford for the loss? Nope. He was still able to complete 60% of his passes despite everything else.

So who do I blame for the loss? That's easy, it was the TEAM. To win on the road in Green Bay you have to play a near perfect game. Coaching has to be near perfect. The routes have to be near perfect. Drops have to be near non-existent. Passes have to be near perfect. Blocking has to be great. Tackling has to be near perfect. Penalties have to be very limited. Pretty much NONE of that happened. It was an utter and complete team loss. To think anything else would be inaccurate.

Now, to fix this, certain players have to get healthy, certain coaches either do better or if the team continues to lose they will be replaced at the end of the season. Those with chances to catch either have to actually make the catch or end up with shorter careers then they would prefer, and the only way they can get better is experience and coaching. But the single biggest thing that would help the team win games is if Matthew Stafford would regain his accuracy and maintain it, regardless of who is playing in the game with him or who his opponent is. I do not blame Stafford for this loss, but I do expect him to play better then he is. The coaching staff NEEDS him to play better then he is or lose their jobs. The receivers need him to be more accurate or their careers are in jeopardy. The entire 2013 season is pretty much at the mercy of Stafford's accuracy now, not in the past or in the future, but right now.

Next week the Lions play in Cleveland against the Browns and the Brown's defense is doing much better then in the past. Following that game the Lions play the Bengals and the Cowboys (who are, as I type this, competing toe-to-toe with the Denver Broncos), the only hope the Lions truly have of winning any of those next 3 games is if Matthew Stafford is MUCH more accurate then he was today. I may not blame him for today, but I am now very concerned about the rest of October. Now is most definitely not the time for Stafford to remain inaccurate.

I am no longer certain what prediction to make for next week... the higher Stafford's completion percentage the higher the likelihood the Lions win. Anything below 60% and the Lions lose. If the team doesn't have a positive turnover ratio they will likely lose. I have to make my prediction on what I think the quarterback for both teams will do accuracy-wise and what the defenses will do turnover-wise. After today I am tempted to go with the Browns 16-12. I want to predict a Lions win 24-17. Splitting the difference and hoping this game left a bad taste in their mouth they want to get rid of, I'll predict the Lions barely win in Cleveland 20-14.

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