Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Game 4 - Lions @ New York Jets

How about that.

The 3-1 Detroit Lions beat the 1-3 New York Jets 24-17... outside... in an away game... had led them all game long... making the Lions 1st in the NFC North division.

TDs were caught by Jeremy Ross and Eric Ebron, with another TD ran in by Matthew Stafford himself. Matthew Stafford was 24 of 34 (70.588%) for 293 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. Calvin Johnson had 2 receptions for 12 yards. Let me repeat the important parts here... this was an away game, played outdoors, CJ had only 2 receptions for 12 yards, Stafford completed over 70% of his passes and there were no turnovers by anyone on the Lions team. How about that, huh?

The new kicker missed a field goal, there were mistakes made by various players that they can work on this week, but by and large, this team was ready to play, played well, and won a game they deserved to win. In the end, you can't really ask for more then that. Now that other teams are starting to "get it" and are beginning to show up (such as the Packers) this small head start could come in quite handy in the future... should the Lions make any post season like noise in December. But let's not count the champagne bottles before their opened (such as the Detroit Tigers were doing, only finally winning the division on the last regular season game of the year, today in fact, and thank you Tigers)... there are still 12 long grueling football games to go yet. The next being at home against the Buffalo Bills (and former head coach Jim Schwartz as the DC).

A few players need to get healthy, such as Joique Bell (concussion), CJ (knee), Waddle (or any RT please), and Stafford (who had a bad turf burn on the back of his throwing hand along with a limp before half time that carried over into the ride home). I don't want to see the Lions just beat the Buffalo Bills next week, I want to see the Lions offense annihilate them. I'm not predicting that, don't want to jinx them, just hoping I get to see it. In fact, when I predicted the Lions would win against the Panthers (read below) they lost, and when I predicted the Lions would lose to the Jets they won. So either I keep predicting the Lions to lose to avoid jinxing them or I stop making predictions altogether. I'll go with the latter.

Here are a few things I would like to see during the game next week though. At least 2 sacks made by Lions Defensive Ends. More TDs then turnovers lost, again. And, another good game that makes me want to say "How about that!" after it's over... and not because something bad happened either.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Game 3 - Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers @ Home


The Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers at home with a score of 19-7. This marks the first time the Lions have EVER beaten the Packers whilst Rodgers was the QB for the entire game. AND, the game was won because of the Lions DEFENSE! I am speechless!

I mean, Nate Freese missed yet another field goal which now gives him a rockier start then the Lions last rookie kicker, Jason Hanson (who was 3 for 6 his first 3 games). The Lions Offense gave up 3 turnovers. Matthew Stafford had completed less then half his passes by half time. But the defense had kept the Lions in the game with a pick-6 early on in the first quarter and a safety in the second, then after half time a completely different team took the field with Stafford completing something like all but 2 of his passes and thankfully no more interceptions (he had 2). It was quite a game, to say the least.

In the end, Matthew Stafford was 22 of 34 for 246 yards, no TDs and 2 INTs. That's a 64.7% completion rate (and as I said, it was under 50% around half time). In comparison, the mighty Rodgers was only 16 of 27 for 162 yards and 1 TD. If I was giving the game ball to just one person though it would be going to the weak side linebacker; DeAndre Levy, who put on a pro-bowl worthy performance yet again. It was a fun game to watch, a great game for Lions fans, and I want to say more about it but as I said, I'm speechless.

Congratulations to all the players on playing for all they were worth. Congrats to the coaches on proving you do have what it takes. And, good job fans for making it loud. I will also add that I am oh so glad my prediction of a Lions loss did not come true. Makes me want to predict a loss for every game from now on, but I try not to get too superstitious, so I will simply go with this... the Jets will have one less day to practice (they play Monday night against the Bears, go Jets!) and though they are tough... oh wait, it's an away game, hmmm... okay, I can't predict a tie, so I'll go with the Lions losing by 1 point... something like 24-23. (Okay, perhaps I do believe in jinxes).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Game 2 - Lions @ Carolina Panthers

Never mind.

The Detroit Lions lost this one to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 7-24. While it's true the Panther's have a great defense, it's also true the Lions needed to be tested by a great defense and also by a road game. They failed the test. Utterly. Never mind that at one point in the 3rd they were ahead 7-6. Once they had the lead they could not build on it nor hang tough and keep the Panthers from scoring.

Part of that failure to build on the lead was due to their rookie kicker, Nate Freese. Prior to taking the lead he failed to convert both field goal attempts. It was quite possibly a career ending day for him, depending on how the coaches handle it. Myself, I might try to see if a way can be found to calm down the ole nerves and get him to do what he is quite capable of doing, that is hitting field goals at pretty much any NFL range. Not sure if it was because he was outside (probably not) or away (probably not) or just nerves (probably so) but missing two field goals under 50 yards in the same game is usually frowned upon so look for the Lions to at least bring in some kickers to evaluate.

That said, Matthew Stafford was only 27 of 48 for 291 yards 1 TD and 1 INT. That's 56.25% which is just as bad as the kicker in NFL terms. Especially since the INT was near the end zone as they were driving, in the lead, and the receiver was well covered. Basically, the play should've never ever been attempted. What makes it even worse, the running game was an anemic 18 attempts for 70 yards, one of which was Stafford for 8 yards. If you want to worry about something, never mind the kicker and special teams, look at the offense as an equal part of the problem.

I'm not saying the game was lost by special teams and the offense, oh no. The defense gets to have their share assigned to them as well. Allowing a partially healed Cam Newton to complete over 64% of his passes for 281 yards and a TD plus allowing another rushing TD despite keeping them to less rushing yards then the Lions had was also disheartening. The Lions also failed to create a single turnover.

Speaking of turnovers, the Lions had a couple, but the reason I'm not harping on anyone about them is because the one was recovered by the Lions and the other two were created by absolutely great defensive plays... where the defenders (as in more then one) would keep the ball carrier from advancing while another defender would have time to wind up and punch the ball, hard, right out of the ball carriers grip. That is nearly impossible to prevent if you are going to try for those extra yards instead of hitting the deck. I suppose if you want to split hairs the ball carrier needs to hold on better, but doing that takes away some speed and power and balance (holding with both arms like that) to the point I'm not sure I would be all that crazy about it happening all the time. I give cudo's to the Panthers on their turnover prowess... and glare at the Lions for failing to do the same.

Another issue with the game is the Lions lost yet another nickel cornerback, possibly for the season, when their 4th round draft pick left the game injured. I think the Lions are fresh out of nickelbacks (not talking the music group here) and since they play in the nickel almost all of the time they are going to have to go shopping for someone on Tuesday. I hope the front office has a good short list.

Finally there's our new coaching staff. They weren't quite a prepared for this game as they were for the Giants. The Panthers were able to turn things around before the 4th quarter got here and stay ahead of the moves the Lions made. That includes the horrible decision to play in cover 2/cover 3 late in the game... the Lions really got gashed then. They couldn't get the kicker to settle down and just play, nor could they keep their star highly paid DTs in the game when they were needed most, in the final quarter. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons and such, injuries and game plan, never mind the apparent lack of stamina or conditioning or whatever you call it... but if a certain DT wants to make near star QB money he needs to be playing pretty much every snap and creating havoc in my opinion, a lot of havoc, not just a couple times a game.

Okay, I'll try to calm down here enough to make my prediction for next week. After signing a new cornerback and quite possibly a new kicker (but not necessarily) they will have to prepare for the Packers at home. The same Packers who very nearly lost to the Jets today. If some of this mess can be worked on and fixed I think the Lions can give a good game but I'm concerned they will fall short... so I will predict a loss of 24-17.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Game 1 - Detroit Lions vs New York Giants @ Home

Something's missing.

Yeah, I know, about 6 weeks worth of blog entries are missing for one thing. Sometimes life just takes too much time and something has to give, in this case it was writing blog entries. Yet that's not what I'm talking about.

Since it's brought up though, let's do a little catching up. As my previous 4 blog entries indicate, I went to the Lions training camp practices for a couple of days and used that information to update my estimated depth chart as I do every year... prior to game 3 of the preseason. Managed to do the best yet, 49 right.

They kept

QB Moore over G Rodney Austin
WR Ogletree over WR Durham
FB Montell Owens over HB George Winn
CB Lawson over CB Mohammed Seisay

Nailed the rest of it. Not bad for locking it in prior to game 3 in preseason.

Just to steal my thunder though, 2 others in my forum got 50 right (LionHawk and TimT). I'll use that as incentive to do better next year. Then again, I think perhaps they didn't lock in prior to game 3 in preseason, ah heck with it, still need to do better.

The next thing missing is my prediction for the Lions season. I entered it into my contest as 10-6, with that being good enough for 2nd in the division, but not quite enough to make the playoffs... thus ending up drafting 19th overall in the 2015 draft. Since only game 1 is over with there is still plenty of time to beat me out of this prediction as well, which would be fine by me.

Enough catching up, the Lions stomped on the Giants in week 1 with a score of 35-14. Matthew Stafford was 22 of 32 for 346 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs. He even ran in a TD himself. The defense didn't embarrass themselves, nor did special teams. On top of all that the coaching appeared to be top notch. Are they ready for the playoffs after just one week? No. There is still a lot of things they can work on to get better, but they were definitely ready to play week 1, and with new systems on both sides of the ball that's a pretty good feat in and of itself.

No, there was something missing though... I just can't... hmmm... it wasn't Stafford's mechanics, they weren't perfect but they were definitely much improved. It wasn't the game plan, that seemed solid. It wasn't a lack of adjustments in game, that did occur and worked out superbly. It wasn't bad clock management, that too was solid. It wasn't any one thing... ah... that's it... what was missing was the previous coaching staff who couldn't do any of these things correctly. I admit the lack of experience at both OC and DC had me worried. I'm sure that there will be a hiccup here and there still, but as of right now it just plain feels good to have competent leadership running the Lions for a change.

Now, hopefully, they don't do anything to make me eat my words, it took me too long to get around to writing them for that to happen! Still, now the real tests begin. The Panthers now have some film to work with (as do the Lions) and the Panthers have the talent and the coaching to make this road game a tough one. That said, I feel another prediction is in order, so here we go... the Lions win in Carolina beating the Panthers by less then one score (between 1 and 7 points) in a hard fought contest.