Detroit Lions: This Is The End


Last week I put together a piece called “Should Detroit Lions fans have hope?” It was a nice little article where I made a case for hope being something fans should have, and conversely, hope being something fans should run away from. In the end I polled readers on which side of hope they’d like to be on. 77% percent of voters decided they would devote their emotions to hoping the Lions had a massive turnaround and made a run.

For the first 15 minutes of Sunday’s game, that 77% had their moment in the sun as the Lions opened up a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and looked unstoppable. Posting 160 total yards and running two drives that made the Lions offense look like the elite unit you’d always hoped they would be. Then things took a turn for the worst.

The Lions did again to their fans what they’ve done so many times before. They made them believe and then ripped their still beating hearts out of their chests moments later. That team that posted 160 yards in the first quarter went on to post 114 yards combined in the next three quarters. The Lions also allowed Matthew Stafford to get sacked seven times and instead of forcing the ball down field as they did when it was too late, they turtled and went back to the same old dink and dunk offensive scheme that got them in this 1-5 hole to begin with.

Oct 25, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick (25) evades a tackle from Minnesota Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo (34) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Vikings win 28-19. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a picture of Theo Riddick taking a pitch on 3rd and 13 in the fourth quarter of a game the Lions are only down by eight points in at the moment. This play seems so minuscule in the grand scheme of the game. But this is the play that hammers home the final nail in the coffin in my opinion. It was this moment that the entire coaching staff collectively said “we have no idea how to adjust to this Vikings defense.”

The Lions staff continued to leave Stafford hanging out to dry when they continued to dial-up play action plays that frankly left Stafford unprotected and unaware. On four of the seven sacks that Stafford endured on Sunday, the quarterback was dropping back and in most cases had his back turned to the defensive line while executing the fake. The clear option at this time was to put Stafford in the shot-gun formation where he can see whats in front of him and have time to go through his progressions. The Lions waited to do this on their final drive and went into the red zone.

I ask myself every week “What was it that we saw?” I’m referring to myself and my fellow colleagues that attended camp and studied preseason and saw what we thought would be a very good team that was ready to take the next step. Little did any beat writer, analyst or radio host know, the season would be over in week seven.

Fear not Lions fans. This team can still do exciting things in 2015. They can win some games and put up a highlight or two. But it will all be in vain when the final second elapses in week 17 and reality sets in that the Lions are missing the playoffs for the fourth time this decade, will be going through personnel changes yet again and drafting high in April.

Mike Payton is an Editor at SideLion Report. He is from Holland, Michigan by way of Warren, Michigan. He considers himself to be obsessed with the Detroit Lions. Mike’s work has been featured on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio and Mike is also a weekly contributor on It is what is with Sean Baligian on ESPN 96.1 and a contributor for The Holland Sentinel. Follow Mike Payton on Twitter@SLR_Mike

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