Every week it’s the same thing from head coach Jim Schwartz.
Whether it is “we just didn’t make enough plays to win”, or “every game in the NFL is close and we just didn’t pull it out”, Schwartz has the same reasons as to why the Lions are 4-9. I mean, it’s almost as if this team expects to play a close game each week, and refuse to put together a dominant performance.
Sure, the NFL has good teams scattered across the league. Sure, there are close games played on a weekly basis. That doesn’t mean games have to be played so close to the vest.
Look at the Monday night game between the Patriots and Texans. Both are two of the best teams in the AFC. Should be a close matchup, correct? New England ended up blowing out Houston 42-14 in one of the more dominating performances of the year.
No matter how good the opposing team is, it’s possible to win all four quarters in each of the three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams). The Patriots did that on Monday against arguably one of the best teams in the league.
The Lions have failed to do that in every game this year. Even in their wins, the team either had to claw back in the fourth quarter for a victory, or let the opponent back into the game because they couldn’t close it out. Even in the seemingly dominant win over the Jaguars, the Lions gave up two late scores to make the game interesting in the end.
They looked to be well on their way to an easy win over the Packers on Sunday night until quarterback Matthew Stafford let Green Bay back into the game with a pair of costly turnovers. The Lions had two long, time consuming drives to begin the contest with a 14-0 lead in what was possibly their best quarter of the entire season.
Unfortunately, four quarters make up a game, and the Packers were the better team in the final three quarters.
It’s like the Lions refuse to exert their will on any team. That doesn’t just lie with the players either. Whenever the team has the lead, it’s obvious by some of the coaching decisions that they are playing “not to lose” instead of “playing to win”.
How many times have the Lions had the lead and gone conservative in their play-calling in the second half? How many times has the defense gone to a prevent, and then given up the lead because they did not play to their strengths.
It took place just this past week. The defense had a chance to get off the field and get the ball back to the offense for the game-tying score. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham calls for the D to rush only three linemen with eight in coverage. When does that ever work, especially with the Lions who have a very suspect back seven? The answer is never.
The players and coaches can use all the excuse they want, but at 4-9, nobody is buying into what they have to say. Whatever they are doing is not working.
Not once in a game this season has the Detroit Lions put together four quarters of good football. Not once have they played consistently in all three phases. Whether it’s the players, the coaches, or even a bit of both, something is lacking that keeps this team from winning on a consistent basis.
If that doesn’t change here in these next three games, people will be losing their jobs, and rightfully so. A 4-9 record after making the playoffs for what is seemingly the first time in forever should not be accepted by anyone.