Sunday, October 29, 2017

2017, Week 8, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Detroit Lions @ Home

Ju Ju'd

What happened to week 6 and week 7 you ask? Well, in week 6 the Lions lost to the Saint in New Orleans by a score of 38-52. Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to write up an article about that game (hardly have time to write this one in fact). But had I wrote it there would have been much more talk about the coaching staff, and how they aren't doing their jobs to my satisfaction. Then I'd have gone on about how week 7 is the Lions bye week so perhaps some players can get healthy and perhaps the coaches will take the time to self evaluate and improve their own (and thus the players') performance(s). Then there is tonight's Sunday Night game in which the 3-4 Detroit Lions lose to the 6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at home by a score of 15-20. Now mind you in the 3rd quarter the Lions had a chance to take the lead by kicking what would amount to a chip shot field goal but instead chose to go for it on 4th down, and failed. Then, a few plays later, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, the Steelers 20 year old rookie wide receiver, took a short pass 97 yards for a touchdown. The Lions late in the 4th would once again get within 7 yards of the end zone and would once again go for it on 4th down and once again fail to convert. If you're keeping score that's 6 points in field goals not taken in exchange for two failed 4th down attempts. They lost by 5. Now who's decision do you think it was to not take the points? If you want to know why the Lions lost this game (and perhaps the 2 before it as well) then look no further then the HC, OC, and DC. Caldwell, Cooter and Austin (sounds like a bad law firm) have taken poor coaching decisions to a whole new level. More on this later.

Matthew Stafford was 27 of 45 (60%) for 423 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The Lions managed 71 yards rushing. They managed 5 field goals and would easily have had 2 more had the attempt been made. But I digress. Ben Roethlisberger was 17 of 31 (54.84%) for 317 yards a touchdown and an interception. If it weren't for the fact that Ju Ju had a total of 193 yards it would've been a very good defensive stand. But Ju Ju did have 193 yards, with a long of 97 yards, and the game ending first down to run out the clock as well. There were too many times he was wide open, since Bell only had 76 yards rushing it should have been obvious to all concerned that Ben was going to have to throw to move the team down the field, so why was their #2 WR (a 20 year old Rookie in his 8th game of his career) able to get open and make so many yards? Because the defense was wrong, that's why.

If I had the time I'd really lay into the coaching decisions, both in the past couple games and in today's game... but I don't have that kind of time. Overall I thought the offense did fairly well considering the OL has been made up of guys I don't even know (today's right tackle was cut from I think it was Dallas' practice squad a while back for example) and even with the failure to make any TDs did enough to win. Despite Ju Ju's 97 yard pass play the Lions defense also did enough to win. I mean, sure, one more completion on offense or one more pass play defended by the defense might have also won the game, but the decision to not kick two field goals was the defacto reason the Lions lost. It's a stupid reason to lose a winnable game. A reason that I hope does not happen again. Ever. With this coaching staff. It's near unbearable to overcome everything only to have stupid coaching tricks cause the team to lose.

Next week the Lions play in Wisconsin on Monday Night Football against the Rodger's-less Green Bay Packers team. It should be an easy win. Something tells me it will be much more difficult then that. And, if the Lions coaching staff helps too much, could become another heart breaking loss. Here's hoping lessens were learned, of some kind, before it's too late.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

2017, Week 5, Carolina Panthers vs the Detroit Lions @ Home


The 3-2 Detroit Lions lose to the 4-1 Carolina Panthers 24-27 in a lopsided game that was no where near as close as the final score. If you gave out game balls to the losing team the only two guys who would deserve them would be TE Daniel Fells and K Matt Prater, in my opinion. None of the other players stood out and for that matter, neither did any of the coaches. There was so much that went wrong during this game that there isn't much in the line of positives to write about. Very lopsided indeed.

Matthew Stafford was 23 of 35 (65.71%) for 229 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions though he did fumble twice (one recovered by Robinson of the Lions) and Stafford was sacked 6 times. Stafford detractors will be saying that he needs to be more aware of the rush, that he needs to just get rid of the ball instead of taking the sack, and so on. Stafford defenders will be saying that the offensive line needs to pass block better, that the receivers (be they WR, TE or RB) need to get at least some separation to get open, and that the play calling was not conducive to winning the game. I would say that both sides would be right. I understand that Stafford is playing tough, standing tall and trying to give his receivers as much time as he can to get open, desparately trying to win the game. But, he (and his coaching staff) need to admit the OL is not capable of blocking regularly for either the pass or the run and do whatever can be done to mitigate the problem. Be it more roll outs, throwing the ball away instead of taking the sack, re-designing the playbook, or just benching guys for lack of production. Something, anything, as Stafford is getting whomped, he's limping, bleeding, and at times, rushing his throws while at other times taking too long to get rid of the ball. The running backs make a great play then fail the next 6 times (or whatever number it is). The blocking is even more lopsided. In the end Fells caught both touchdowns in what many will call garbage time and Ebron had only 1 catch and many drops, again. Ebron is also not playing like a first round pick. I could go on and on and on about the offense, but, let's look at the other side for a moment.

Cam Newton was 26 of 33 (78.79% which is amazing) for 355 yards 3 touchdowns and no interceptions one fumble (recovered by them) and sacked 3 times. The time of possession was around 35 minutes (to the Lions 25) and the only good stat for the Lions defense is they held the Panthers to just 28 yards rushing (Lions offense had 50 yards rushing). At one point the Panthers had scored 24 unanswered points leaving the Lions to score their only 2 passing touchdowns in the 4th quarter in a failed attempt to come back. The Panthers backup tightend had 5 catches for 175 yards, nearly a team record. The defense will get a pass because they played so well the first 4 games of the season, but really, they don't deserve a pass, they need to find what went wrong and get it fixed or the season will be over before the bye week. Then again, maybe that's just me being upset about the loss and how lopsided the score was until the final minutes.

Now I'm not saying there wasn't a good play here, or a great play there, by the Lions, but there was so many bad plays it kind of ruins the good ones. It is most certainly time for the Lions coaches to figure themselves and their team out, and find ways to have more of the good plays and far fewer of the bad ones... on both sides of the ball. It's time for players to step up or sit down, and no, I'm not actually talking about the quarterback. Even though he does need to be coached about some of the things he is (or is not) doing too. Make Ebron a healthy scratch in favor of playing Fells, that might get his attention. Shuffle the OL if you have to, or find plays they can actually block for, or coach them into doing better, or gee, I just don't know, but any QB who has to play behind this OL is going to need a whole lot of ice if he can even walk after the game no matter who is taking the snaps. Maybe it's the OL coach? Not sure. The WR coach has some work to do too, the WRs are not getting open. Not even getting a step of separation most of the time. Or is it the playbook? The play calling? Not sure on this either, but I do know that something must be done. At the same time the defense who was playing very well needs to get back to doing that, as this game exposed them badly and it can't be something they fall into when you need them to keep the team in the game. No, they shouldn't have to do that by themselves, I just covered that, but until such time as the O does come around the D needs to compensate.

In the end, the game was a Panthers win from the 2nd quarter on, it was completely lopsided despite the final score, and hope for future wins was severely diminished after watching the game. Only Fells and Prater should sleep well and feel good about their game after this.

Next week the Lions play the Saints in New Orleans. If they play like they did today they will lose by 3 or more scores. The bye week is the week after but I suggest they shouldn't wait for that week to fix things, they need to work on it now. I'm sure they are actually, I'm just not sure if they are capable. Probably they are, but forgive me if I have some doubts.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017, Week 4, Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Just Enough

The 3-1 Detroit Lions defeated the 2-2 Minnesota Vikings 14-7 in a hard fought away game. The offense, defense and special teams did just enough to garner the win. In fact, it could be said that the defense had to do even more then their share in order to make up for some issues elsewhere. The officiating was also fairly relaxed (and no, I'm not complaining). All in all, it's hard to get upset over a win, a tie for the lead in the division, and a team who was only 5 inches (or 3 seconds) away from being 4-0. Let's hope the team does just enough to make the playoffs this year as well. For that matter, more then just enough would be better yet.

Matthew Stafford was 19 of 31 (61.29%) for 209 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Ameer Abdullah rushed for 94 yards (before leaving the game injured in the 4th quarter) and the only touchdown of the game. The offense also managed a 2 point conversion in the 3rd quarter. Neither team scored any points at all in the 1st and 4th quarter. It was pretty much a defensive game on both sides, with the Lions defense notching 4 fumble recoveries (3 of the Vikings fumbles and 1 of Staffords) with no interceptions and 2 sacks. The Vikings did not recover any fumbles and got no interceptions (though it was a close thing a few times) and sacked Stafford 5 times, hurrying him many more times, and hitting him in excess of 15 times. Prater hit 2 of 3 field goals and the Vikings missed their attempts. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was just enough to win.

By the way, their backup QB Keenum was 16 of 30 (53.33%) for 219 yards. The Lions defense held their running game to only 87 yards and one touchdown, but, in a non-contact run their rookie running back Cook went down with a knee injury... word is nearly a complete ACL tear. He'll likely be out for the rest of the year and possibly into next season. Lions played without their 1st round pick (Davis) at MLB and an hodge-podge offensive line that is really having issues run blocking and pass blocking. Not sure what they are good at actually. Getting injured for sure, but one would think they could do at least one type of blocking adequately... then again, the Lions won, their tied for first in the division, and so I guess it was just enough.

Next week the Lions play the Carolina Panthers at home. I have a feeling it'll be another 1 score difference game, just not sure who will be healthy enough to play so I'm also not sure which team will come out on top. The homer pick is the Lions, but my mind is telling me the Panthers just might do just enough to win instead.