Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015 Week #2 - Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings


The 0-2 Detroit Lions lost to the 1-1 Minnesota Vikings 16-26 in a dismal display of football prowess today. So many things went wrong or were wrong that it's hard to know where to begin. In fact, that is actually the problem... everything does in fact affect everything else... like a giant knot. One that needs to be unraveled in order to sort out what is wrong, what can be fixed, and what can not.

Matthew Stafford was 32 of 53 (60.38%) for 286 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He was also knocked down, knocked around, and generally in trouble way too much in the game.

Meanwhile Teddy Bridgewater was 14 of 18 (77.78%) for only 153 yards 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Sounds great until you see that the Vikings had 199 yards rushing (134 just by Adrian Peterson) compared to the Lions 38 (and 20 of those were by Stafford, today's leading rusher).

I read someone say that the Lions are going to need a mobile QB to start winning games. I'm there thinking they are nuts, QB is not the issue. It is A issue, but not the THE issue. Yes Stafford is a pocket passer, which means he actually needs a pocket to work from, and that isn't happening. Sure you could fix that by having a mobile QB (one who can throw on the run) but would it not be smarter to fix the offensive line, especially since they aren't run blocking either? It's actually more complicated then that though. The coaches don't like to play rookies because they can't trust them to do all the little things right. Well, news flash, neither are the guys you have starting instead. Pettigrew is a key part of the blocking scheme on many plays, but he was injured and not playing this game, and despite all those who hate Pettigrew, his missing the game had a large impact on things going bad. The lack of pass blocking had a very sore Stafford not trusting them which causes him to rush things (and why wouldn't he?) even when they do an occasional good job of blocking. The lack of pass blocking means you can't run the deep routes, so CJ is running short routes and they're sending Fuller deep, otherwise you end up with last week and no targets for CJ. What defense is afraid of Fuller deep? On top of this, Stafford is more accurate in his mid to deep throws, it's a stat fact, but the routes for that aren't being called, and since the run game isn't happening, defenses can crowd the line of scrimmage and cover both the pass and the run without worry about a deep ball. Oh, and the run game is attempting to be run by Joique Bell who has nothing (probably not healed all the way yet), two promising rookies who the coaches don't trust (not the players, just rookies in general), and Riddick. I don't think defenses are extremely concerned about Riddick running them over. The whole offense is tied up in a knot, and it's partly due to injury (Warford, Waddle, Bell, Pettigrew, and now Stafford), partly due to the OL as a whole, and partly due to the coaching. Okay, mostly due to injury and coaching. So we should all keep blaming Stafford? Not.

Despite all of those strands of things that are wrong with the offense Stafford was still above 60% completions for the 2nd week in a row. The opposing QB however was once again sitting with a completion percentage at least 16% better... and I'm continually hearing how it's all the fault of losing Suh to the dolphins. Once again, it's more complicated then that. Much more. The first problem on D is that Levy isn't playing. His range, coverage skills, tackling, and instincts make him a CRITICAL part of the defense. Tulloch hasn't played in almost a year and it shows. Ngata didn't play all pre-season, not one snap, and it shows. Walker isn't exactly getting the job done, and most of the time Jones isn't either. Reid is out, and that hurts the rotation and keeping them fresh, and on and on it goes. It's not all injury though, coverages aren't being disguised (partly because they are always running the same coverage it seems) and there is no blitzing (even when there is, no one is getting to the QB). There is no attack, there is no drive, there is no imposing of will, there isn't really anything to stop opposing offenses from doing whatever they want.

I wasn't a fan of the team being the last one to start camp this summer. I wasn't a fan of sitting many of the key starters in most of the pre-season games. Sure it may have kept some fresh, but now they are rusty instead. You can't even say it prevented injury since so many got injured anyway, or are playing injured now without having taken the time to heal completely, partly because the coaches would rather make healthy players inactive then to trust them to play. The coaching staff has got to get over this fear thing and start imposing the will of the team upon their opponents, on both sides of the ball. Being too careful in preseason has led to being too careful in the regular season. The team is a gigantic knot, with too many things affecting too many other things, and it's time to get this unraveled, and righted, now.

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