Nov 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. Tampa Bay won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions Pursuit of the NFC North Crown: Week 13

Each week SideLion Report will be doing a weekly blog on the areas the Detroit Lions need to improve as well as an opponent preview for upcoming games as the Lions chase the NFC North crown. If you’ve missed our previous posts check out the links below!

Week 11: Tackling and Execution

Week 10: Focus and Secondary play

Tampa Bay Buccaneers summary

Tackling

There were some missed tackles here and there in week 12, but for the most part the Lions showed that their poor tackling in Pittsburgh was more of a result of the inclement weather than the Lions inability to wrap up. That’s at least one positive against Tampa Bay.

Execution

The Lions did not improve in execution. In fact, they regressed. Although the Lions’ pass rush was a little more effective this week with the return of Ziggy Ansah, the Lions offense turned the ball over five times. Matthew Stafford had four interceptions, although not all of them were his fault. He either threw a good ball that bounced out of his receivers hands or placed the ball in a bad spot and/or made a bad decision. Regardless of the turnovers that weren’t on Stafford, he has played his worst football of the year the last two weeks displaying an array of overthrows, bad decisions, and poor ball location.

Week 13 Areas for Improvement

Win the Turnover Battle

In the last two games the Lions have had: Five interceptions from Matthew Stafford, two fumbles combined from Kris Durham and Reggie Bush, countless drops by receivers which have resulted in odd bounces for interceptions and stalled drives, and zero forced turnovers on defense. The Lions have been beating themselves plain and simple. Clean it up and the Lions don’t find themselves in the midst of a two game losing streak.

Don’t Give Up On Plays Before The Whistle Is Blown

I can think of a few instances when Chris Houston has given up a big play and followed it up with a blown tackle resulting in a long touchdown. If Houston makes a tackle on those plays, offenses will have to try their hand against the Lions stout red zone defense instead of a sure touchdown. The difference between a win and a loss can come down to the smallest details. Whether that be a tackle on a blown play or making a concerned effort to bring a pass in or hold onto the ball during the run. Those plays are the plays the Lions need to turn losses into wins over the next five games.

Find An identity

Who are the Detroit Lions? Losers of two straight against inferior opponents. A team that can’t seem to motivate themselves to play with a division title in their hands. The Aaron Rodger led Packers wouldn’t have any problem winning games they are supposed to win. My challenge to the Lions this week is to find an identity. This team needs to decide now if they are going to take the division on Thanksgiving and never look back, or waste their talent away and blow another season.

*Secondary play and offensive line- While not our focus this week, these two units have regressed the last two weeks and will find themselves on our list with an asterisk until they improve.

Next Opponent: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Showdown

It appears the Lions won’t be playing against Aaron Rodgers according to Mike McCarthy. Who knows if this is a smoke and mirrors trick, but Rodgers or no Rodgers, if the Lions can’t motivate themselves to play then they will get beaten. It happened in week 17 in 2011 with the Matt Flynn led Packers and it will happen again. The Packers are beat up and haven’t won any of their last four games and there shouldn’t be any reason for the Lions to lose this game at home.

Next Lions Game Full schedule »
Sunday, Nov 99 Nov1:00Miami DolphinsBuy Tickets

Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford NFL Week 12 NFL Week 13 Ziggy Ansah

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