Sunday, September 25, 2016

Game 3 2016 - Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

A tale of two halves.

The 1-2 Detroit Lions lost this game to the 2-1 Green Bay Packers with a score of 27-34, well actually they lost the game during the first half when the score at the end of the half was 10-31. In my opinion there is exactly two reasons why the Lions lost this particular game, with a couple of extra sides that didn't help matters along any. But more on this tale of two halves in a moment.

Matthew Stafford was 28 of 41 (68.29%) for 385 yards 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Sounds great, except in the first half his completion percentage was no where near that. However, once he started stepping into his throws, started using proper mechanics, in the second half, he was once again his accurate self. So Stafford was one of the two reasons the Lions lost this game right? Wrong, that's one of the sides, and while some fans call it an excuse, I call it a reason, for if you can identify the reason you can fix it, an excuse is when you have no intention of fixing anything. So why was Stafford's mechanics so messed up in the first half? Part of it was that the offensive line isn't going to rank in the top half of the league and part of it was the Packer's defense was dictating what the plays being called on offense were. Once again why? Because the coaching staff for whatever reason decided to keep Riddick in the game on all run plays and apparently thought running him up the middle over and over was a great idea. Riddick had 10 run plays for a grand total of 9 yards in the game with a long of 8 yards (so the other 9 tries netted 1 yard). In the second half they played Washington on many running play snaps and he got 38 yards on his 10 attempts with a long of 9. Why is this one of the two reasons the Lions lost the game? Because just about every knowledgeable fan absolutely knows you can not run Riddick up the middle and expect any kind of result unless the OL is run blocking in a manner in which they are not capable of. So some are going to say it was lack of execution (and blame the players). Some are going to say it was poor obtaining of talent (and blame the GM). Others will insist the blame goes on Stafford alone. I shall look no further then the coaching. I have no idea who made the decision to not only start Riddick over the other options this game, but then to keep Riddick in despite it not working for nearly the entire first half. Whoever it was, that's one you can blame.

Rodgers was 15 of 24 (62.5%) for 205 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Except for the touchdowns it sounds like some decent defense, and it was, in the 2nd half, when the Packers could only manage 3 points on the scoreboard. Most of the yards and all the touchdowns happened in the first half. Why? No pressure on Rodgers. Just last week the Packers opponent showed the world how to win against Rodgers, and that is pressure. So obviously the blame goes to the defensive line, right? Or perhaps injury since Ansah and Levy were both out for this game. No, those are sides. The difference between the first half and the second half is that the Lions started to blitz in the second half. That led to hurried throws and other bad decisions all through the 2nd half. Why Austin will not blitz unless, in his words, he has to, is some kind of personal belief (obviously). But just last week it was proven how to win, and to me that means "you have to" blitz... not just in the second half, but from the first play from scrimmage. So some will blame injury, some will blame lack of execution by the players, others will blame Stafford (no idea how that works), and I will blame Austin, the defensive coordinator... unless I find out Caldwell told him not to blitz then I shall blame him instead.

So there you have, my tale of the two halves point to the stubborn determined insistence to play Riddick on every running play in the first half along with the stubborn determined insistence to not blitz at all during the same half. Those two factors directly caused (again, in my opinion) the Lions to go 10-31 by half time only to come back 17-3 in the second half. Same QB, same OL, same DL, heck same players period, same playbooks, same coaching staff, same field of play. In the second half the Lions played Washington at RB and blitzed on defense. That is what worked, and failing to do that in the first half is why they lost. Some would say they made half time adjustments and it almost worked, that the coaching identified the issue(s) and almost got the win because of it. I call b.s. Nearly every fan knows you don't run Riddick up the middle over and over especially if you have other options, and many a fan watched the game last week and knows there is a way to defeat the Packers... that being to rattle Rodgers and his iffy offensive line by getting pressure. So blitz, and play the rookies, stop the mandatory start of veterans only and waiting until it's too late to give the rookies some play time. It's going to cause the entire season to be a waste of everyone's time.

We can assume that Cooter made the Riddick decision, and we can assume that Austin made the non-blitz decisions, and they may have. But there is still one guy who can over rule them... the head coach. All that remains to find out is if he over rules them before the game starts or at half time. Is he the problem or the thing that gets things sorted out for the 2nd half? You could say though, since he can do either, the fault is his and his alone for not demanding things differently.

Not everyone is going to agree with me, and that's fine. I'm only pointing out how I see it. Next week the Lions play the Bears away. Perhaps that match up will work out better for the Lions and perhaps they can win the game despite the coaching... or will it be because of the coaching... we shall see next Sunday afternoon.

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