Sunday, December 31, 2017
2017, Week 17, Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers @ Home (Season finale).
The 9-7 Detroit Lions beat the 7-9 Green Bay Packers 35-11 and the first time they have swept the Packers since 1991. This is the second 9-7 season in a row, but this time it was not enough for them to make the playoffs. How large is that stupid loss to the Steelers now? Or that called TD that wasn't against the Falcons causing 10 seconds to be run off the 8 second game clock when it overturned? Or any other game that could have or should have been a win but was not for whatever reason. So even though it was another winning season the 2017 season can be summed up in one word. Fail.
Matthew Stafford was 20 of 29 (68.97%) for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. This makes his 7th season in a row of exceeding 4,000 yards passing, only Drew Brees has more (11 or 12 I think it is). This was also the only game Stafford ever has had with 3 passes of over 50 yards in it. Proving it could be done if the plays were called and/or attempted, but were not until the playoffs were out of reach. That means too much conservative play calling when it matters. Another data point in that vein is the trick play called for a 2 point conversation which ended up with Tate III throwing a 2 point conversion to Matthew Stafford. Despite all these beautiful records, the offense for the Lions in 2017 has but one grade. Fail.
Hundley was 14 of 24 (58.33%) for 172 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The Lions defense also allowed 103 yards rushing and recovered 2 fumbles (well, 3 fumbles but one was Agnew recovering his own fumble so I'm not counting that). The Lions defense went from a top 10 defense (primarily from it's run defense at the beginning of the year) to 32nd by year's end. The turning point was exactly due to one player. Ngata. The pro-bowl DT was healthy for the first time as a Lion to start the year and was playing like a pro-bowler, then he got injured and put on IR and the defense never was the same again. How can a defensive coordinator not be able to counter for the loss of one guy in 3/4 of a season? This isn't the first time Austin lost a pro-bowl DT and failed to do anything after that... same thing happened when Suh left the team (they did get Ngata, but he was playing injured the entire year and was not himself). Apparently, and as I have said often, Austin can NOT field a decent defense against a winning team unless he has a pro-bowl and healthy defensive tackle on the team playing the majority of the snaps. So the grade for the 2017 defense? Fail.
I haven't too many complaints about the special teams coach other then why wait until week 17 to do a trick play that helps score points? Was that a head coaching decision or something self inflicted? Special teams won't get a failing grade, but I'm forced to go no more then B+ because of those two questions.
Now after reading my post(s) you might think I want all the coaches canned. But, there are issues with that. You see, new coaches mean new systems, new playbooks to learn, new language, new problems even. The talent may no longer fit. The time for everyone to sign on and be able to execute can often be measured in years not games. I'm not looking forward to a whole new coaching staff, not at all. But, at the same time, the current OL coach was the TE coach until Lombardi was fired then he was moved (and the not so great OL coach at the time was canned along with Lombardi). I don't think he is the answer at OL coach. Cooter is a great QB coach, but he needs training on how to be an OC, and perhaps, maybe, he could be worked with by hiring an assistant with play calling experience to help him learn his position that he was never properly taught. As for the defense, I do not want Austin back unless we have a pair of pro-bowl caliber DTs on the roster. But I don't want a whole new defense either, just a DC who is not afraid to blitz. So perhaps let Austin go and promote one of the assistant coaches to DC, such as the DB coach maybe. Does that mean I want to keep Caldwell? Well, it would make my choices easier, but it's also possible that Quinn will bring in Patrica (the Patriots current DC) as the head coach and he could do the things I suggest above. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Patricia That is, fire Austin, promote the DB coach to DC. Replace the OL coach. Bring in an assistant to properly train Cooter in the art of play calling... and perhaps just perhaps Patricia won't go for it on 4th down when in field goal range and only 2 points down... maybe he'll take the points and the lead and not lose that game giving the Lions a wildcard game. Perhaps he can even find ways to improve other aspects of the game and win the division, especially in a year in which Rodgers is out for most of it and the other two teams in the division are going to backup QB plans of their own due to injury or ineffectiveness. Anyway, that's my say on the coaching issue at this point in time.
I have a lot more to discuss on the players, and will, but until the coaching decisions are made that can wait... what's the point of replacing half the OL if the OL coach remains. What's the point of getting a top notch RB if the OC always calles run plays on 1st downs and can't call more then 20 run plays a game. What's the point of getting a DT if... oh, well, we need one anyways... but if we need a pro-bowl ready made DT to make Austin's D work it would have to be a very expensive free agent and not just a draft pick. (could or should be both is Austin stays). Anyway, I'll get into player eval and other comments later, after I see what the coaching situation is.
Have a good New Year's everyone, see you on the flip side.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 5:30 PM