Sunday, October 25, 2015

2015 - Week #7 Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings @ Home


The 1-6 Detroit Lions lost to the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings 19-28. Matthew Stafford was 18 of 26 (69.23%) for 256 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. The Lions led at the end of the first quarter 14-3 and both the offense and the defense looked pretty good and then like a switch was flipped both the O and the D couldn't do anything right. It was, in a word a... nightmare.

It would seem that when pressed the entire team has a problem with focus, and thus execution. I'm not just talking the players either, the coaching staff appear to be unable to handle in game adjustments or to find counter moves that work. The inability of the players to recognize blitzes, the inability of the coaching staff to find ways to slow blitzing down, and the inability of the coaching staff to keep pressure on opposing offenses by blitzing is like a broken record. Every game there is multiple breakdowns by multiple players and multiple "interesting" coaching decisions. In the world of NFL football this constitutes a nightmare, especially since it keeps happening.

Golden Tate has the body language of someone who hates his job, or maybe it's someone period. When the running game gets going well the team starts getting pass happy. There is not one aspect of the team that is functioning well. What is really odd is that the offense, sans two (considered not so great) offensive lineman are the same players as last year and the defense, sans two defensive lineman, are also the same players, and on both sides it's the same coaches and supposedly the same scheme. The entire coaching staff was brought in to win now and after going 11-5 last year it looked like they knew what they were doing. This year they continually say the players aren't executing the plays... yet they said a year and a half ago (and they were supposed to) tailor the plays/schemes to the players' abilities. How if you have tailored the playbook to the players' abilities are they suddenly a year later incapable of executing the plays they are best at? It's mind boggling. It can't be real. Someone is feeding us a line of bull. So let's see if we can't clarify it.

If the players can't execute the plays then either they are not being coached correctly or they shouldn't be on the roster. One shows a coaching issue, the other a front office issue. If the playbook is the issue it's a coaching issue... the coaching staff the front office hired and has not fired. If the problem is Matthew Stafford as some fans suggest then the playbook/scheme/play calling is NOT tailored to fit his strengths and thus a coaching issue. If Matthew Stafford is simply not a good QB then the front office has two issues, their starting QB and their lack of quality backup with no one being developed for the future. If the issue is Stafford calling the OL blocking schemes then either the schemes suck or Stafford sucks at it. If that is it then why is he still doing the calling? Why isn't someone else doing that? Why hasn't he been properly instructed on how to do it correctly? Why is it after 7 games still an issue? In fact, no matter what issue you point to, no matter which side of the ball, it comes down to "why is it still an issue after 7 weeks in year 2?" and that points to the coaches... and since the coaches are still coaching THAT points to the front office.

Our nightmare deserves to be shared, identify the culprit and fire him. If it's not a him then it's a them. Fire them. If the person in charge of firing won't do the firing, fire him. Etc. Sooner or later you'll get the right one. Since new front offices will want new coaches, and since new coaches will likely want a new QB, and since the Lions will have a lot of cap space in 2016 and a lot of draft picks, and a high draft pick in round one... this is the perfect time to start over. You don't have to wait until the end of the season. Wake up, end the nightmare, start handing out pink slips like they are candy... and don't let up until you get all those that are creating or have created this problem. The problem? 1 and 6 in the first 7 games following a 11 win season. Focus on that and nothing else. Do not listen to the bull they are giving out. Do not believe they know what is wrong, for unless it involves a mirror they are probably wrong. I realize it's a nightmare in its self to start over again from the top on down, but if the tower you built is falling over you don't have much of a choice. Get a new architect, a new contractor, use better materials, and stop the bleeding.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015 - Week #6 Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears @ Home


The 1-5 Detroit Lions beat the 2-4 Chicago Bears at home 37-34 in overtime with just under 3 minutes to go giving the Lions their very first win of the 2015 season. It wasn't a great win, not dominating in any regard, but it wasn't a loss either, it was, in a word, okay.

Mathew Stafford was 27 of 42 (64.29%) for 405 yards 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. More importantly, the Lions managed 155 yards running even though Bell was inactive and Ameer Abdullah spent a lot of the game on the bench after losing yet another fumble earlier in the game. Zach Zenner who looked good in his reps in the 1st quarter also left due to injury. The second leading rusher was Stafford with 38 yards on 6 plays. Overall there were fewer errors in the game in blocking, passing, catching, and so forth but the defense allowed a FG game tying drive in the final 21 seconds of the 4th quarter to let the game go into overtime. Coaching was at times good, and other times exceptionally questionable, but in the end they won and that makes it okay. One change of note was the QB coach was on the sidelines while Lombardi the OC was up in the box... a move that seems to have helped.

The Lions play at home next week against the Vikings and the week after in London against the Chiefs before their bye. Both are winnable games but they will have to do much better then just okay. There is a chance now that the coaches are at least starting to move the team in the right direction (no idea why it took them 6 weeks plus 4 weeks of preseason though) and the players are beginning to execute at least some plays with precision, but that's a long way from saying they have it all figured out. We are only 3 losses away from talking 2016 draft, I had expected after today for it to be only 2 more weeks, but that's okay, I'm really not ready to talk draft just yet.

In fact, I'm not ready to discuss salary cap space, free agency, new front office personnel, or a new coaching staff either but had the Lions lost today I certainly would have at least been going off on a large part of the latter. I'm fairly certain I will eventually but this win gives me (and everyone else) at least another week or two. Can the coaching staff continue to fix themselves while they also implement weekly game plans for the players they have healthy enough to play? Are they willing to even admit they are a part of the problem, even if it's not public? I suppose that will be the question each week for the foreseeable future. One we won't get an answer to but only the results of, and if they can find a way to win games then they too know they will be okay.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

2015 - Week #5 Detroit Lions vs Arizona Cardinals @ Home


The 0-5 Detroit Lions lost to the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals 17-42 in their 2nd home game of the season. The sheer number of turnovers that occurred during the game was nothing short of amazing. Lions gave up 6 of them. Stafford had 2 interceptions before half time when he was apparently told by head coach Caldwell that if he threw another he would be benched. Half way through the 3rd quarter he did and he was. What kind of head coach tells his starting quarterback during the game if he throws another INT he'll be benched? One that is clueless, that's what kind.

This coaching staff was brought in last year to "win now" and last year they did a fairly good job of it until the playoff loss... but this year they suddenly find themselves with a team that is playing like they are lost, or clueless, as to what they need or can do. So instead of fitting the scheme and plays to the players they are blaming the players for not executing the plays and scheme. That is NOT what they said they would be doing. That is NOT what they are supposed to be doing. That is NOT going to put the players in a position to win games, as evidenced by the 0-5 start.

Matthew Stafford was 20 of 32 (62.5%) for 188 yards 1 TD and 3 INTs. Dan Orlovsky was 21 of 38 (55.26%) for 191 yards also with 1 TD and 1 INT. Meanwhile Carson Palmer needed only 11 completions on 14 attempts for 161 yards and 3 TDs (with no interceptions). Yet the Lions coaching staff appear to think it's Staffords fault they were losing the game. Now don't get me wrong, Stafford has plenty of things he could do better. That said, poor tackling, poor blocking, poor play by almost every one on the team including the quarterback can't be all on the players. If the plays are not executable by the guys on the field (but other plays are) who's fault is it, the players or the coaches? Since the coaching staff seems to think it's not them, this is going to go nowhere fast.

Stafford wasn't the only player benched, earlier in the game Ameer Abdullah was benched after his second fumble. That one I can understand, as long as ball security is the point being made and this doesn't permanently put Ameer in the doghouse. Of course, if you are going to draft a running back with small hands you are going to have a player who fumbles from time to time, it's what happens. Now it could be said that Stafford was also benched for ball security issues and for showing the team that you're not playing favorites, I just don't agree that telling the QB during the game he will be benched if he does it again is the right way to go about coaching. Playing afraid isn't putting the players into a position to win, or even try hard. To me, this shows the coaching staff has or is about to lose the players. They certainly are losing the fans. Unlike the coaching staff, the fans are not clueless.

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 - Week #4 Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks


The 0-4 Detroit Lions lost to the 2-2 Seattle Seahawks 10-13 in a manner only the Lions can. As Calvin Johnson was making his way to the end zone for the probable game winning touchdown the ball was knocked out of his arms at around the one foot line, then swatted out of the back of the end zone. It so happens that doing so (the swatting) is illegal, and it should have been the Lions ball at about the six inch line, and an automatic first down. Instead, the officials gave the ball to the Seahawks at the 20. After just a couple more plays and a first down the Seahawks gathered in the victory formation a couple of times giving the Lions their 4th loss of the season.

Only one team has ever made the playoffs after starting out 0-4, and that was in 1992. It's been awhile since the Lions have lost their season before it ever began. 2008 in fact. When Matt Millen and Marinelli and all of the rest of the 0-16 season criminals were fired. I'm fairly sure this is not what was meant when the current group was hired to "win now". Yeah, this game had a fluke finish as many a Lions game does, but in the end the Lions still lost.

Mathew Stafford was 24 of 35 (68.57%) for 203 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. The Lions also were going to devote plays to the running game, and they did, 18 plays (or about a third of them) for 53 whole yards (or about a fifth of their offensive yardage).

I suppose there is much I could say about this game, or I could go into the 2016 draft I suppose, maybe talk about how the Lions could fire this coaching staff and be on the hook for both the previous one and this one while looking for a third... but if I do any of that then I have to talk about Mayhew... who would be in charge of the draft (as it stands now) or in charge of finding a new coaching staff (again, as it stands now)... and I just can't do that. I've been waiting for Caldwell to get Lombardi moving in the right direction, and that's only happened in small steps for very little results. The mere thought of Mayhew still being around to hire a third set of coaches or of conducting another draft seems purely ridiculous now that this season is all but lost. Instead of going in that direction I shall make one final appeal, this time to Mayhew, if he can't see that his coaches are now putting his job in jeopardy then allow me to break the news to him. It would behoove you to meet with your second hand picked coaching staff and everyone else on the team who stands to be unemployed in the near future and GET THIS SORTED OUT! There are very few in Allen Park left from the Millen disaster, but the top dogs still there from that period are Lewand and Mayhew... and I have to believe that Ford Jr may have his mothers ear as far as what all this losing should entail. It may be too late, it may not be, but you all can no longer take that chance. So someone, somewhere in that organization, put your foot down and say "no more" and get those below you to do a proper job before your job too is lost.

We Lions fans don't really care if the officiating is what gets you fired, we only care that the Lions win games, with the promise of winning more sooner rather then later. Get winning, or get lost.