Many can question the final play from the line of scrimmage in the Lions 44-41 loss in overtime against the Titans, but the game should never have come down to the final play. Giving up big plays on defense and special teams sure didn’t help but the Lions looked sluggish on offense for the second week in a row as they failed to finish drives with touchdowns, instead settling for field goals on their first two offensive possessions. Why are the Lions struggling to score touchdowns? I believe it has to do Matthew Stafford and the with the three interception he threw against the Rams in week one.
Has anyone seen the confident Matthew Stafford who fits balls into small windows with pinpoint accuracy since week one? The answer to that question is no. This is mainly because he hasn’t attempted very many passes like that since week one. Stafford has an ability to make throws that only a handful of quarterbacks can make in the NFL, but he hasn’t tried to make those throws since his three interception game against the Rams in week one. We haven’t seen very many deep balls from Stafford, and we haven’t seen any jump balls to Calvin Johnson. Is Stafford scared to throw the ball deep? Has he been told to stay away from those throws by the coaches? Whatever the reason, Stafford hasn’t been attempting the passes he needs to make for the Lions offense to be explosive again.
If the Lions want to win ball games they can’t rely on their defense, whose secondary might be the worst in the NFL, but they can rely on the arm of Stafford and the talent they surrounded him with. They must utilize Calvin Johnson and trust that he’s going to make the plays he’s been making throughout his career.
A prime example of what the Lions are capable of is through the events that occurred after Stafford left the game with an injury on Sunday. Lions’ backup quarterback Shaun Hill came into the game and made plays down the field to the best receiver in the NFL, and to the talent surrounding Johnson. Why were the Lions so successful after Stafford’s injury? Because they had to call plays down the field and execute them. Before the Stafford’s injury there were very few plays called that were intended for huge chunks of yards down the field. If Shaun Hill can make plays down field, then so can the supremely talented Stafford who has perhaps the strongest arm in the NFL.
They Lions’ offense has more weapons than any Lions team in the past, and with the resurgence of the run game, thanks to an explosive Mikel Leshoure, the Lions finally have another dimension to their attack. However, if the Lions continue to play it safe they will continue to lose football games. Football is all about making plays and that’s something the Lions will be unable to do if they don’t even give themselves the chances to make big plays down the field.