The Detroit Lions Week 16 loss in Cincinnati may have ended their playoff hopes, but here’s why this year’s failures will help shape next year’s success.
The Detroit Lions were eliminated from playoff contention after last Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Although being eliminated by a 5-9 team that was dominated by the Chicago Bears 33-7 just two weeks prior was not only painful to watch, it was downright embarrassing. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
This team had no shot at a playoff run had they gotten in. It would have been yet another one-and-done. Also, had they made the playoffs it’s more than likely that head coach Jim Caldwell would return again next year, seeing as how he would have brought the team to the playoffs three out of the last four years.
It’s safe to say more than half of the Lions fan base do not want to see Caldwell return. Perfect example of why occurred last Sunday. There were less than four minutes to go with Detroit down 19-17, it appeared wide receiver Golden Tate hauled in a pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford on third-and-28.
The officials initially called it an incomplete pass. Replay showed that Tate looked to have maintained possession of the ball long enough for the call to be overturned.
The season was on the line, there was absolutely no reason why Caldwell shouldn’t have challenged the ruling on the field. Instead, he sends out punter Sam Martin without a second thought. End result, Lions lose 26-17 and Coach Caldwell all-but signed his own pink slip.
It’s commonly noted by current and former players that Caldwell is a leader of men. We know he’s highly respected in and out of the locker room. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to any wins in January.
So yes, the statement that up to this point Caldwell has brought the team to the playoffs twice in his three years in Detroit sounds really good. It really does. But in reality, it’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
Now to address the Jim Bob Cooter situation. The Lions’ offensive coordinator needs to be gone, simple and plain. He couldn’t get an offense going with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. There were many games where the offense couldn’t to heat up until the second half. Which by that time, they were already down by 10 or more points. His play calling was predictable each and every game. His overall performance, not acceptable.
Another result of not making the playoffs means the team will be bumped up a spot or two in this years NFL draft. Which probably won’t make too much of a difference, but it’s something to be noted.
Overall the truth of the matter is this team isn’t in the position to be a serious contender. They show glimpses of greatness, but nothing they’ve been able to sustain over the course of an entire season. With the right coaching hires, a couple more solid drafts by general manager Bob Quinn, and a few necessary free-agent signings, the football team from the Motor City could turn into a real threat in the NFC.
If there’s one thing people can say about Detroit Lions fans, they’re unbelievably loyal – and extremely patient. But that patients is running out. Moving in the right direction would be to replace key members of the coaching staff and make players aware of what the expectation is going to be from here on out.
Ending a season with a winning record and a playoff appearance isn’t enough anymore. For me personally, I’m young enough to have never witnessed the Lions win a playoff game my entire life. That’s pathetic, point blank period.
I’m a fan of this team to the core, I bleed Honolulu blue. And as much as I wanted to sit down and watch a playoff game with my family in January this year, I know that missing the playoffs will be better for the team in grand scheme of things.
Sometimes you have to be sore today, to be stronger tomorrow.