Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: Good, Bad & Ugly

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Detroit Lions’ fans, many of whom were weary, bleary-eyed and irritated after staying up late to see the Detroit Tigers blow a golden opportunity to grab a 2-0 ALDS series lead early Sunday morning, received a gut blow when it was determined that Calvin Johnson would not suit up in Green Bay.

It almost felt like the Lions were already in a hole even before the opening snap, especially in a place where nothing has gone right and the breaks haven’t gone Detroit’s way in 22 years. Indeed nothing went right yesterday, another Wisconsin loss, 22 to 9.

No Megatron=No Offense

We saw the dimension lost in the offense when Reggie Bush was injured during the Arizona game. The offense still struggled a bit in the Washington win without Bush. But sans Calvin, it was even worse. Everyone was concerned about the first-team offense in the preseason. It struggled greatly, mostly due to Calvin playing in only one offensive series in the entire preseason. Many explained the offense struggles away with the fact that once Calvin is in there, his double and triple-teaming will lead to openings for others. This was mostly the case.

We’ve given Martin Mayhew much praise for finally addressing the secondary and adding Bush to create a dynamic in the offense, but one thing he failed to do in the offseason was add a legitimate veteran wide receiver. Though CJ has been durable during his career, often playing through injuries, Nate Burleson was a question mark coming back from a broken leg. For that very reason, another receiver should have been added. It turns out the concerns for Nate were legitimate, but for completely different reasons.

Much was made about Matthew Stafford‘s inability to throw to wide receivers in the preseason without Johnson. Those concerns were valid on Sunday.

Defense

Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Its a recurring theme for the defense. They have played well in all five games this season, win or lose. They did allow a couple of big plays, the long Randall Cobb run and the 88-yard James Jones touchdown, but if the Lions’ offense was able to have a pulse, they could have gone toe-to-toe with Green Bay.

Simply put, the defense kept the Lions in the game probably longer than they should have been. A three-point halftime deficit considering how lousy the offense played in the first half was extremely laudable.

Penalties

The defense was even more impressive because of the bad breaks Detroit was receiving via the officiating. The penalties, which were largely gone in last week’s victory against the Bears, were back in force, however many of the early ones were pure garbage. Ndamukong Suh was called for a questionable tripping call which turned a failed Packers’ third-down conversion into a first down. Not too long later, a phantom holding call erased a failed fourth down conversion for Green Bay. The defense buckled down to force two field goals, when they otherwise would have gotten off the field.

We can complain about penalties all day, but the officiating did eventually even out in the second half and the Lions could do nothing.

Bottom Line

  • It was a rough and frustrating  weekend for the offenses of the Motor City Kitties. The Tigers were held scoreless for the final 17 innings of the weekends ALDS games with Oakland and the Lions held to just three points in Green Bay until garbage time.
  • On a related note, as a fan of both the Tigers and Lions, I now thoroughly hate the colors of green and yellow.
  • Every year when the Green Bay road game ends, I am slightly disappointed that another year goes by and its yet another loss up there. But then I am also a little relieved that its done and over with and the Lions can move on with their season. Its always better to get this game done early.  Detroit will get a second chance against Green Bay on Thanksgiving and are still in first place at 3-2, tied with Chicago. So things could be worse…
  • The schedule-maker did not do the Lions any favors in the early part of the season. Not only will they have four road games in the first six games, but it will be the second straight week where their next opponent was able to scout them from their couch. The Packers were off last Sunday and could watch the Lions play the Bears and the suddenly surging Browns played on Thursday, allowing them to watch the Lions lose to the Packers.
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Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Green Bay Packers Matthew Stafford

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