If the Lions want success, something has to give or someone has to go
"The coaching staff needs to secure 25 yards by putting a returner in who will take a knee, it is as simple as that."
If there is one team in the NFL with a more convincing excuse to lose games due to injuries than the Detroit Lions, it’s the Chicago Bears. Missing their starting QB, RB, and multiple defensive starters the Bears flexed their ability to overcome by dominating the trenches on both sides of the game.
Lions faithful were reminded today that this is still the NFL, and there are no teams that you can overlook. So where is the blame to be placed?
Is it the offense? The Lions spent their second straight game with a slow start in the first half scoring a measly 3 points with only one drive inside the Bears 30. It also didn’t help to leave points off the board at the end of the second half. A miscommunication between Tate and Stafford led to an easy interception, stopping any chance for an end of half field goal. Three points that the Lions would’ve benefitted from 30 minutes later. The Lions went 4 for 12 on third down on offense and 0 for 1 in Red Zone attempts. After an early injury to Dwayne Washington on a 5-yard gain, Theo Riddick took over and ran for only 31 yards on 11 carries (2.8 YPC). Marvin Jones played well for the most part, aside from a drop, with 74 yards on 5 receptions. The only offensive contribution to the scoreboard seems to be the two point conversion in which the Lions utilized the dusty concept to find Tate to bring the game within 3. If the offense is to blame, it is due to the slow starts and mental miscues, but I believe that is a blame that falls on solely this loss and the first half of the Packers match up. Across the rest of the season, the offense has been spectacular and is playing at a high level, so I do not think the Lions offense is the majority of the blame for the 1-3 start.
How about the defense? 111 rushing yards allowed to third string running back Jordan Howard and Brian Hoyer throwing for 302 yards and 2 scores is not what many expected from the Bears team that is widely regarded as the worst roster in the NFL. While the thing holding the Lions’ defense back the most is really their injuries to starters Ezekiel Ansah and DeAndre Levy, there is little excuse for the inability to tackle at the second level. Sporting the league’s worst rushing defense in terms of yards per carry (5.1 coming into Week 4) the Lions were carved up on early downs today allowing Hoyer to stretch the field with play action. The bright spot in this front seven is UDFA Kerry Hyder, who has recorded a sack in every game this season including one this week in Chicago. But one play of pressure isn’t enough to win games. This front seven has failed to create pressure in key situations allowing for a ton of big plays abusing the weak secondary that has had major problems defending the middle of the field all season. While oft-injured, it is little excuse for the lack of discipline and pressure as the Lions are showing signs of disappointment early in the 2016 season and the defense deserves quite a bit of the blame.
After speaking briefly on the Detroit Lions Podcast, go check them out on iTunes, they brought up some great points about the idea that this coaching staff needs some work. With Caldwell on the hot seat and Teryl Austin failing to produce on the defensive side, maybe the Front Office needs to take a look at the leadership of this organization. Coaching impacts a lot more than many perceive at this level. Drilling discipline into these players is of utmost importance as two back to back penalties (the false start on Ebron and illegal forward pass by Stafford) instantly killed a key first-half drive giving the ball back to Chicago with solid field position. The Lions reached ten penalties today which is about nine too many as far as I am concerned.
I say nine because there is no way Tahir Whitehead should have been flagged for DPI early in the game. No contact and no face guarding and the Bears end up inside the Detroit 5 yard line. Aside from the punt return touchdown late in the fourth quarter, I have no idea what Andre Roberts is doing and why he continues to take kicks out of the end zone. The coaching staff needs to secure 25 yards by putting a returner in who will take a knee, it is as simple as that. Poor coaching, in my opinion, deserves a huge amount of the blame and there needs to be some changes.
There are a lot of problems stopping this team from winning games but the one silver lining is that every game has been within one possession. Finding success early can be the solution to some of these problems and maybe we are all overreacting. Hopefully, that is the case. Either way, something has to give, or someone has to go.