Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 - Week #3 Detroit Lions vs Denver Broncos @ Home


The 0-3 Detroit Lions lose their home opener to the 3-0 Denver Broncos 12-24. The Lions were actually in the game until about the middle of the 4th quarter when several errors by Lions' players and a few great plays by the Bronco players tilted the results heavily in the Bronco's favor. With very few errors of their own, and almost no great plays by any Lion, the game was slowly, methodically, and inevitably lost. It was practically conceded.

Matthew Stafford was 31 of 45 (68.89%) for 282 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Peyton Manning was 31 of 42 (73.8%) for 324 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Lions wanted to limit the Bronco's run game and did hold them to 41 yards, meanwhile the Bronco's held the Lions to 28 yards. So if both sides were so similar in QB play and limited in their run games how did the Lions lose? Well, I could go into other turnovers, or penalties, or the minor other differences in the two teams, but in my opinion the Lions lost this game for 2 reasons.

1. The Bronco's did what they wanted and the Lions were hard pressed to stop them. For example, if they tried to blitz Manning, he would make them pay. Not every time, but enough times. Or if the Lions double teamed a pass rusher another would get through.

2. The Lion's took what the Bronco's gave them. Rarely imposing their will on them. Trying to minimize mistakes. This also worked fairly well, for example, Stafford had a really good completion percentage. But this also took away any risk taking that might have broken the game open (in their favor). Intentionally trying to keep the game close so to speak.

The OL did a much better job this game, the OC was still over his head, the HC still says all the right things but none of those things ever seem to result in a change, or a win. I read on twitter several interesting tweets, one being the Bronco's pretty much knew what the Lions would do (in any circumstance) and the Lions then did exactly that. Also, that Lombardi thinks he came to the Lions to install his system and not to adapt a system that fits the Lions abilities (this an observation by the author, not a direct quote or anything of the sort). The last being the opposite of what was said would happen, and unfortunately, not what needed to happen. In other words, as long as Lombardi is the offensive coordinator calling the plays the Lions will continue to concede every game they play until someone (looking at you Caldwell) fixes the underlying problem with the team... that in fact the coaches are NOT putting the players into a position to win games.

Would the Lions have won with a few more calls going their way? With a couple freak turnovers not happening? With better QB play? A better OL, or a better DL? With better health? Or any one of a hundred other variable changes? Sure, by maybe 2 points, maybe, or maybe not. Certainly not by 12 points like the Broncos did, that would require a killer instinct that simply does not exist with the Lions. They are not using their resources correctly, they do not confuse their opponents, they are not being aggressive or inflicting their will on anyone. In fact, most of the time, you can't even recognize they have a will to inflict. Playing careful, playing scared. Conceding the game before it even starts.

Sooner or later the Lions may accidentally win a game or two or three. That is not exactly the way I would prefer to go through a season, no matter what sport it is. It's one thing to protect the ball, it's another to never try for fear of messing up, and it's a very fine line between the two. A line that the current coaching staff seems to be having a very serious problem identifying. Quit conceding every game to the opponent, know what your players can do and allow them to do it, allow them to take calculated risks that produce results. Allow them to win.

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