Sunday, September 14, 2014
2014 Game 2 - Lions @ Carolina Panthers
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.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 9:59 PM