Detroit Lions : Five Questions After Week 2


Sep 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron (85) scores a touchdown on a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In a move of either curiosity, or possibly masochism, I decided to open up the flood gates and field questions from Lions fans. I knew that it wasn’t the best idea due to the temperament of the fan-base after Detroit’s gut wrenching loss to Minnesota on Sunday. I posted on both Facebook and Twitter with #AskASideLion, and asked fans to submit questions, with the best five to be answered in this article.

Many questions, as you would expect, were aimed at Lions OC Joe Lombardi. Many questions were directed toward Matthew Stafford.  I selected five of them. If you wish to submit questions for next week’s Ask A Side Lion, use #AskASideLion. Here are this week’s questions:

#1. Who, in your opinion could replace Mathis? via Emily Johnson

There is not a replacement for Mathis on the roster. The Lions drafted CB Alex Carter in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. It was doubtful that Carter would be able replace Mathis immediately, but he was expected to see significant playing time. Two seperate ankle issues (the first in rookie camp and the second in training camp) have put a halt to any such plans. He is on the IR-Designate To Return list, meaning that he isn’t able to practice for six weeks and isn’t eligible to play until Week 10. Rookie Quandre Diggs has seen some action, but mostly at the nickel position.

Right now, Mathis needs to improve, as well as the defense as a whole.

#2. When does Lombardi start taking serious heat? Jim Caldwell was a (relatively) successful OC, does he need to start taking over the offense more? via Dan Webb

Coach Jim Caldwell has a history of being notoriously vague when it comes to team information. I wouldn’t hold your breath if you are expecting Caldwell to publicly demote Joe Lombardi. Caldwell is incredibly faithful, maybe to a fault at times. Lombardi calls the plays and Caldwell signs off on them. Caldwell wants Lombardi to do his job and gives him the reigns.

However, I can’t expect the sluggish offense to remain sluggish while Caldwell stands by. If the offense continues to struggle I expect Caldwell to quietly begin to have a bigger role in play calling. He may not publicly lead on that a change has been made. After all Caldwell does have two Super Bowl rings as an offensive coordinator (Indianapolis and Baltimore). He would be just as responsible as Lombardi if he does nothing to intervene.

#3.  Is it a realistic possibility the Lions select Connor Cook in 2016? via Chris Robbins

I fielded a wide range of questions regarding QB Matthew Stafford. This one was perhaps the least condescending of the bunch. NO. I don’t think it’s realistic that the Lions use a high draft pick on a quarterback as they will have many other needs, most notably an heir to Rashean Mathis, Linebackers, and possibly defensive lineman in 2016.

However, I have maintained for the last few seasons that they should be drafting a mid-round quarterback to groom. There are two main reasons for my feelings on drafting a mid-round guy. For one, you can develop a solid backup whom you can teach the way you want them taught. If there is an injury to the starter, you can at least have confidence in your backup. The second reason is that grooming a young quarterback for a few years can give you potential trade value at a later date.

Like it or not, Matthew Stafford will be the quarterback for the Detroit Lions for at least the next few years as his contract and performance make him nearly impossible to trade.
#4  Are the lions losing due to “too much accountability being held”…at what point do the lions realize that they need the best players on the field regardless? via Ken James

This is an incredibly complex question that only a few people truly know the answer to. I will give it my best, but it is purely my hypothesis.
After playing well in 2014 filling in for Tulloch when Tulloch went down with an ACL injury, it appears that LB Tahir Whitehead has fallen out of favor. The team concedes that it is performance based, but anyone watching can clearly see that Whitehead routinely outperforms Travis Lewis, yet Lewis has been getting the starts.

Against Minnesota, Whitehead took 17 snaps in relief of Tulloch. The Lions have been working with multiple personnel packages, or at least that is what coaches have claimed when asked about snaps among the linebackers.

The other position of contention is at running back. Joique Bell has earned the respect of coaches and teammates alike. However, through two games, it is clear that he is not the best running back in the stable. Actually, it’s tough to gauge much in the running game for two reasons. The first reason is the dreadful play of the offensive line. The second reason is lack of carries. Only 16 carries against San Diego and only 13 against Minnesota. Ameer Abdullah needs to see the ball more, but until the offensive line improves, it may be a good thing that he hasn’t gotten so many looks thus far.

#5. Why not let Matthew Stafford just run a Peyton Manning style no huddle offense? via Michael Kaufman

I think that Stafford needs a healthy mix of snaps from under center and shotgun/no huddle. He isn’t Peyton Manning, and coaches do not have that sort of trust in him at this point in his career. Jim Caldwell made a big impact during his job interview when he mentioned that he had reviewed every snap that Stafford had taken in the prior season (2013). They definitely put the handcuffs on Stafford at that point.

But here we are a season later and it seems as though those handcuffs have been exchanged for a straight jacket.

Stafford’s most dynamic plays during his career have came with the deep ball. Again, we elude to the offensive line and their inability to pass protect. We have already seen in both games that the no huddle has been more effective than their traditional offense. I would expect that we will gradually see more no huddle formations until the offensive line gets themselves together. LaAdrian Waddle coming back this week helps out tremendously as Cornelius Lucas has been used and abused by opposing defenses.

Next: Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos: 5 Questions with Predominantly Orange

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