Detroit Lions: What’s wrong with this team?

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: George Iloka /

Now that the Detroit Lions have lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 26-17, it’s all over except the crying for the team’s 2017 season.

The Detroit Lions came out flat against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 26-17 defeat that put their 2018 season on ice. The team will finish the season hosting the Green Bay Packers in a game the NFL schedule makers would never have suspected to be determining draft order and not playoff status.

This loss stings. The Bengals were 5-9. Their coach announced his departure from the team. They were blown out in the two previous weeks by the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears. The Vikings are a playoff team, but the Bears are not. Yet, the Lions, fighting for their playoff lives, with their season on the line, couldn’t pull out a victory.

While the Bengals might not be a bad team, they have a losing record. The Lions can’t expect to win a playoff game if they can’t come out and dismantle a team with a losing record that hasn’t put up more than a single touchdown in the past two weeks.

Now that we’re on to the crying part of the season, what’s wrong with this team? Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate seemingly knew the season would be ending during an interview with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press at the beginning of December. Asked why he said, “I have it in my head, but I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. So, I’m gonna just keep it to myself.”

Hopefully, Tate shared that information with someone. Maybe Lions general manager Bob Quinn consulted Tate after those comments. Right or not, the organization should be looking for answers anywhere they can find them.

This team was on the cusp of achieving that elusive playoff victory. Well, it seemed that way. They have talented players on both sides of the ball. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is in his prime, cornerback Darius Slay is headed to the Pro Bowl and wide receiver Marvin Jones

achieved his first ever 1,000-receiving-yard season. Still, they failed to earn a playoff spot.

We’ve been harping on the running game and lack of a 100-yard rusher all season long. Could that really be the only thing missing from putting this team over the edge? The running game is a big issue. We knew when the season started that it would affect the outcome.

Next: Is Josh McDaniels the Detroit Lions next head coach?

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell’s never been a coach with a great running game. And if success on the ground is holding this team back, we only have to look at Caldwell’s history of coaching the run to know the change that needs to be made to fix the problem.