Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Wildcard Playoff Game - Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

Off season.

The Detroit Lions lost their one and only playoff game of the 2016 season 6-26 to the Seahawks in Seattle Saturday night. The game was every bit as bad as the score indicates. Now that the Lions off season has officially begun, we can start discussing free agency, the draft, and a number of other football related things. But first, the numbers from this lopsided game.

Matthew Stafford was 18 of 32 (56.25%) for 205 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Lions also managed an impressive [sarcasm] 49 yards rushing, 15 of which were from Stafford himself. The Lions created no turnovers of any kind but did manage to make both field goals attempted. Meanwhile Roberts returned 4 kickoffs for an average of 19 yards, had he not returned any the average would have been 25 [obviously]. Why he brings the ball out of the endzone I'll never know. One more equal stat, both QBs were sacked 3 times each. Overall, the Lions were out coached, out played, and out officiated (7 penalties for 68 yards vs 6 for 40); failing in every aspect of the game.

Stafford has been struggling since his finger injury a month ago, never more so then in this game. However, the defense hasn't got much of an excuse for their play, allowing Wilson 23 of 30 (76.667%) for 224 yards 2 touchdowns and of course, no interceptions. Worse yet, they allowed Rawls, who has been averaging just over 1 yard per carry, to rush for 161 yards and a TD on 27 carries. There was another 16 yards gained by 3 other players as well, with a negative 3 yards for Wilson the only bright spot to be found.

Fans will be loud, insisting on Caldwell be fired, but the Lions had already announced last week that Caldwell would return for 2017. So unless they pull a Matt Millen and fire him anyway in a couple of weeks like they did Marty back in 2003 for Mooch, I think it's safe to say he will in fact be here for next season. Now whether all the coordinators make it back remains to be seen. I myself would like to see DC Austin replaced, the Lions defense managed to compile the worst stat for completion percentage allowed in NFL History. What coaching moves are to be made we will find out about in the coming weeks, just don't expect the head coaching position to be one of them.

The Lions experienced a large number of injuries in 2016, apparently replacing all their training room equipment and some of the personnel didn't help in that regard. I had typed a number of sarcastic remarks here but erased them all, you're welcome.

So now Seattle moves on to week 2 of the playoffs, I think they'll head to Atlanta, had the Lions won they'd have played in Dallas next week... instead the winner of the Packers / Giants game will fly into Dallas, that should be interesting. Obviously I am trying to avoid discussing the Lions off season... in fact I think I will continue to avoid it, for another week or so. There is a lot of work to do before I can start discussing the off season and I have to finish that before blogging about it. So let's all calm down, take a deep breath, hopefully watch the Packers lose tomorrow (am I right?). There's plenty of time to discuss the off season in the coming weeks and months, easier too when everyone has finished railing against the team after this debacle of a playoff game.

Next up, assuming there is no coaching changes to discuss, it'll be time to take a look at Lions' free agents. Salary cap space available will take time to compute, as around 5 of the acquired free agents signed and kept have NLTBE (Not Likely To Be Earned) bonuses in their contracts, meaning we won't know the final tally on bonuses earned for a while yet, and that doesn't count the NLTBE bonuses of the free agents the Lions had re-signed last year. So the salary cap figure for a few months will be all estimates, regardless of the source. Those big into the draft will be trying to figure out who will be available when the Lions pick, at around pick number 21 (through up to 24 but not beyond that, what with the loss tonight). Yep, a lot of off season to discuss, just no more of it tonight.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Game 16 2016 - Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers @ Home on Sunday Night Football


The 9-7 Detroit Lions lose to the Division Winning 10-6 Green Bay Packers 24-31 in the final game of the season on Sunday Night Football. Since the Redskins lost earlier in the day both teams make the playoffs. The Packers will host the New York Giants next weekend and on Saturday night the Lions will play the Seahawks in Seattle as a wildcard team, 6th seed. Should the Lions win, they will head to Dallas the following weekend for the right to advance to the conference championship game. The Lions losing streak must now be over or the Lions off season will begin.

Matthew Stafford was 26 of 41 (63.4%) for 347 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Zach Zenner and Golden Tate managed only 76 yards rushing. The offense did enough earlier in the year to get the team into the playoffs, but the Lions have lost the last 3 games straight, all played while Stafford has a brace on the middle finger of his throwing hand due to the dislocation there.

Meanwhile the Lions defense allowed Aaron Rodgers to go 27 of 39 (69.23%) for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns with no turnovers. There was also 153 rushing yards allowed. The defense has definitely not been holding up it's end of the game, but it was good to see Slay back in the backfield, if only the rest of the players were able to show up as well. Still, the Lions were in the game for a very long time until they were unable to keep the pressure up on Rodgers, at which point he was unstoppable.

There was the usual questionable officiating and the odd coaching decision here and there, but overall this season was going well due to Stafford being able to pull off great drives in the 4th quarter to come back to win close games. The other parts of the team just aren't stepping it up to cover for him while his finger (hopefully) heals up. The lack of a run game, the lack of giving their QB time (such as Rodgers tends to get), the lack of perfect execution across the board, makes every game a lot trickier to win. Still, the Lions are only 3 wins away from the superbowl, so doing more, just a little bit more, from here on out, is what needs to be found. Can the coaches find it? Can the players? Heck, can the training staff? We (the fans) will start to find out in only 6 days.

There are a ton of points I could make about the game, such as the time the Packers snapped the ball quickly to get a 12-men-on-the-field flag thrown on the Lions when they thought they were about to get a stop, but it'll all come back to the Lions simply need to play near perfect games in order to win. This game was not one of them. The next one hopefully will be closer (to perfect), for the Seahawks are not playing great either. There is a chance for the Lions to win this next game, perhaps even a better chance then the Packers will have against the Giants. I for one am looking forward to it. If the Lions should win, I'll even be looking forward to the Dallas game, as I think the Lions can compete in the dome in Dallas, barring further injury. But I am getting ahead of myself, the Lions need to spend the next 5 days preparing to beat the Seahawks in Seattle then fly out there and win that game. They and we can not afford to doubt a win, nor can we or they look ahead to Dallas, it's playing one play at a time correctly, it's preparing one day at a time well, that will make these playoffs worth playing in.

We've waited 2 years for the Lions to get back into the playoffs, they are now there, enjoy it. I am.