Sunday, January 8, 2017
The Detroit Lions lost their one and only playoff game of the 2016 season 6-26 to the Seahawks in Seattle Saturday night. The game was every bit as bad as the score indicates. Now that the Lions off season has officially begun, we can start discussing free agency, the draft, and a number of other football related things. But first, the numbers from this lopsided game.
Matthew Stafford was 18 of 32 (56.25%) for 205 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Lions also managed an impressive [sarcasm] 49 yards rushing, 15 of which were from Stafford himself. The Lions created no turnovers of any kind but did manage to make both field goals attempted. Meanwhile Roberts returned 4 kickoffs for an average of 19 yards, had he not returned any the average would have been 25 [obviously]. Why he brings the ball out of the endzone I'll never know. One more equal stat, both QBs were sacked 3 times each. Overall, the Lions were out coached, out played, and out officiated (7 penalties for 68 yards vs 6 for 40); failing in every aspect of the game.
Stafford has been struggling since his finger injury a month ago, never more so then in this game. However, the defense hasn't got much of an excuse for their play, allowing Wilson 23 of 30 (76.667%) for 224 yards 2 touchdowns and of course, no interceptions. Worse yet, they allowed Rawls, who has been averaging just over 1 yard per carry, to rush for 161 yards and a TD on 27 carries. There was another 16 yards gained by 3 other players as well, with a negative 3 yards for Wilson the only bright spot to be found.
Fans will be loud, insisting on Caldwell be fired, but the Lions had already announced last week that Caldwell would return for 2017. So unless they pull a Matt Millen and fire him anyway in a couple of weeks like they did Marty back in 2003 for Mooch, I think it's safe to say he will in fact be here for next season. Now whether all the coordinators make it back remains to be seen. I myself would like to see DC Austin replaced, the Lions defense managed to compile the worst stat for completion percentage allowed in NFL History. What coaching moves are to be made we will find out about in the coming weeks, just don't expect the head coaching position to be one of them.
The Lions experienced a large number of injuries in 2016, apparently replacing all their training room equipment and some of the personnel didn't help in that regard. I had typed a number of sarcastic remarks here but erased them all, you're welcome.
So now Seattle moves on to week 2 of the playoffs, I think they'll head to Atlanta, had the Lions won they'd have played in Dallas next week... instead the winner of the Packers / Giants game will fly into Dallas, that should be interesting. Obviously I am trying to avoid discussing the Lions off season... in fact I think I will continue to avoid it, for another week or so. There is a lot of work to do before I can start discussing the off season and I have to finish that before blogging about it. So let's all calm down, take a deep breath, hopefully watch the Packers lose tomorrow (am I right?). There's plenty of time to discuss the off season in the coming weeks and months, easier too when everyone has finished railing against the team after this debacle of a playoff game.
Next up, assuming there is no coaching changes to discuss, it'll be time to take a look at Lions' free agents. Salary cap space available will take time to compute, as around 5 of the acquired free agents signed and kept have NLTBE (Not Likely To Be Earned) bonuses in their contracts, meaning we won't know the final tally on bonuses earned for a while yet, and that doesn't count the NLTBE bonuses of the free agents the Lions had re-signed last year. So the salary cap figure for a few months will be all estimates, regardless of the source. Those big into the draft will be trying to figure out who will be available when the Lions pick, at around pick number 21 (through up to 24 but not beyond that, what with the loss tonight). Yep, a lot of off season to discuss, just no more of it tonight.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 1:15 AM
Monday, January 2, 2017
The 9-7 Detroit Lions lose to the Division Winning 10-6 Green Bay Packers 24-31 in the final game of the season on Sunday Night Football. Since the Redskins lost earlier in the day both teams make the playoffs. The Packers will host the New York Giants next weekend and on Saturday night the Lions will play the Seahawks in Seattle as a wildcard team, 6th seed. Should the Lions win, they will head to Dallas the following weekend for the right to advance to the conference championship game. The Lions losing streak must now be over or the Lions off season will begin.
Matthew Stafford was 26 of 41 (63.4%) for 347 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Zach Zenner and Golden Tate managed only 76 yards rushing. The offense did enough earlier in the year to get the team into the playoffs, but the Lions have lost the last 3 games straight, all played while Stafford has a brace on the middle finger of his throwing hand due to the dislocation there.
Meanwhile the Lions defense allowed Aaron Rodgers to go 27 of 39 (69.23%) for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns with no turnovers. There was also 153 rushing yards allowed. The defense has definitely not been holding up it's end of the game, but it was good to see Slay back in the backfield, if only the rest of the players were able to show up as well. Still, the Lions were in the game for a very long time until they were unable to keep the pressure up on Rodgers, at which point he was unstoppable.
There was the usual questionable officiating and the odd coaching decision here and there, but overall this season was going well due to Stafford being able to pull off great drives in the 4th quarter to come back to win close games. The other parts of the team just aren't stepping it up to cover for him while his finger (hopefully) heals up. The lack of a run game, the lack of giving their QB time (such as Rodgers tends to get), the lack of perfect execution across the board, makes every game a lot trickier to win. Still, the Lions are only 3 wins away from the superbowl, so doing more, just a little bit more, from here on out, is what needs to be found. Can the coaches find it? Can the players? Heck, can the training staff? We (the fans) will start to find out in only 6 days.
There are a ton of points I could make about the game, such as the time the Packers snapped the ball quickly to get a 12-men-on-the-field flag thrown on the Lions when they thought they were about to get a stop, but it'll all come back to the Lions simply need to play near perfect games in order to win. This game was not one of them. The next one hopefully will be closer (to perfect), for the Seahawks are not playing great either. There is a chance for the Lions to win this next game, perhaps even a better chance then the Packers will have against the Giants. I for one am looking forward to it. If the Lions should win, I'll even be looking forward to the Dallas game, as I think the Lions can compete in the dome in Dallas, barring further injury. But I am getting ahead of myself, the Lions need to spend the next 5 days preparing to beat the Seahawks in Seattle then fly out there and win that game. They and we can not afford to doubt a win, nor can we or they look ahead to Dallas, it's playing one play at a time correctly, it's preparing one day at a time well, that will make these playoffs worth playing in.
We've waited 2 years for the Lions to get back into the playoffs, they are now there, enjoy it. I am.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 12:42 AM
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
The 9-6 Detroit Lions get buried by the 13-2 Dallas Cowboys 42-21 on Monday Night Football. The results limit the Lions to either beating the Packers in the last game of the year to win the division (and thus making the playoffs) or hoping the Redskins lose so that the Lions make the playoffs as a wildcard team. Considering the beating they just took neither option is all that appealing to most Lions' fans, yet making the playoffs is all fans want at the beginning of the season.
Matthew Stafford was 26 of 46 (56.52%) for 260 yards with no passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, and an interception. Zach Zenner had the other two touchdowns for the Lions. Yet they looked like rookies compared to the Cowboys.
Prescott was "only" 15 of 20 (75%) for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. WR Bryant also threw a touchdown. RB Ezekiel Elliott had two more TDs plus 80 yards rushing. Both Prescott and Elliott are rookies, there should have been no way they were able to take apart the Lions the way they did, but the Lions players and coaches allowed them just that.
The Lions were tied 21-21 at the half, but the Cowboys made half time adjustments and the Lions never scored again. Since the OC for the Cowboys is Linehan, a former Lions offensive coordinator, and the Cowboys DC is Marinelli, the former Lions head coach who went 0-16 before getting fired, it is unacceptable that the Cowboys scored 21 unanswered points in the second half in a game the Lions really needed to win and the Cowboys did not.
Playoffs or not, if the Lions continue to play worse then rookies they won't be winning any more footballs games in the near future. The fans shouldn't have to take it, and the coaching staff shouldn't be allowing it, but most of all, the players should be completely ashamed. I'm not sure though if any of that is going to be enough. Lions play the Packers next Sunday, on Sunday night football, for the division title. The Packers are playing like the veteran team they are, whilst the Lions are not, so there are 6 days to get their collective acts together and I'm not totally convinced it can happen. I want to not feel this way, but I still do. So what is it going to be Lions? Are you NFL championship players? or are you a bunch of rookies? You got exactly one more game to prove it.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 12:20 AM
Sunday, December 18, 2016
The 9-5 Detroit Lions lose to the 10-4 New York Giants 6-17 after making way too many mistakes. The Giants scored a touchdown in the first possession of the game (thanks in part to being awarded a completion that was clearly not one) and they never relinquished the lead, though the Lions had chances to do so.
Matthew Stafford was 24 of 39 (61.538%) for 273 yards with no touchdowns (for the first time this year) and one interception despite playing with a dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand. Obviously the interception was a mistake but an even larger one was when Zack Zenner fumbled into the end zone losing the ball on a scoring drive. I already mentioned the completion awarded to the Giants that wasn't one (that was on the officiating) but the Lions also failed to challenge it, a mistake on the Lions part. I have no problem agreeing with those who believe the Lions left 14 or even 21 points on the field. The Giants have a good defense, but it was the Lions who beat the Lions this game.
The Lions defense really didn't start getting much pressure on Eli Manning until the 2nd half, which helped slow down the Giants scoring. Eli ended up 20 of 28 (71.4%) for 201 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. It didn't help that Slay was injured and sat out much of the game, Jackson was picked on relentlessly from then on... a strategy the Lions never seem to take advantage of.
The Vikings managed to lose their game today, they are no longer a threat to win the division, even if they win their next 2 games and the Lions lose both of theirs. However. Should the Vikings beat the Packers next week it could have a great effect on the wild card teams. The Lions meanwhile play the Dallas Cowboys in their last away game of the regular season, a game that will affect first round playoff bye weeks. If both the Vikings and the Lions win next week the Lions clinch the division. Should the Lions lose to Dallas they can still clinch the division the last week of the season when they play the Packers at home. Two losses by the Lions ends their season and the Packers win the division. Hopefully that wasn't too many scenarios to confuse the issue.
Here's hoping the Lions get healthier, and Merry Christmas everyone.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 5:22 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2016
The 9-4 Detroit Lions narrowly defeated the 3-10 Chicago Bears 20-17 to remain first in the division. This makes the 8th time this season the Lions came from behind in the 4th quarter to win the game, after having led the scoreboard up until the 4th quarter when the Bears briefly took the lead from them. Luckily the game was played in a dome as the weather outside was quite frightful, snowing so hard that players, fans and employees will find it difficult to make it home.
Matthew Stafford was 21 of 35 (60.00%) for 223 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. While he had injured his middle finger on his throwing hand early in the game he wasn't playing particularly crisp before it happened. He was forced to play with a glove on his throwing hand the rest of the game, which was likely at least partially responsible for both some errant throws and for his having to concentrate even more about throwing. One of the interceptions was a great defensive play by the Bears, and came about due to a tipped ball that bounced off of the receiver in the end zone and conveniently landed in the hands of another defender. The other was a very poor choice of a throw that was picked off and returned for 6 points nearly costing the Lions the game.
Meanwhile, the Bears quarterback (Barkley) was 20 of 32 (62.5%) for 212 yards 1 touchdown and no interceptions. The Lions rarely blitzed (again) but when they did it was quite effective. Why it didn't happen more is beyond me, but somehow the Lions pulled off a win so once again my complaints about this will fall on deaf ears. One thing the Lions defense did fairly well with was preventing Howard from gaining too many yards on the ground, limiting him to 86 yards (and 24 receiving).
The Lions played without their starting center (Swanson) and they moved Glasgow the rookie starting left guard to center and played former first round pick Tomlinson at left guard. This was a noticeable reduction in offensive line quality and probably responsible for Stafford's finger injury. They also played without their top receiving running back, but despite not having Riddick the others managed to get 114 yards (15 by Stafford himself) on the ground. The Bears also played without a lot of their starters due to injury, obviously, considering who was at QB, but others on their team stepped up and played a tough game. Whether the Lions played down to their competition or if the Bears were truly that close to being a decent team this year is up for debate, but as a fan just watching the game was once again a frightful nail biting game right to the last seconds. It's the reason why more fans haven't jumped aboard the Lions bandwagon just yet.
In the end, the Lions pulled off the win, taking another divisional game (for possible future tie breaker purposes) and remaining in control of the NFC North. The Vikings won their game today and as I type this the Packers have the lead against the Seahawks so it's a good deal that the Lions did win their game today to not lose ground in the playoff race. Of course, the ongoing Packers/Seahawks game has more at stake then just the divisional record, as Seattle has the 2nd seed spot (or 2nd bye week spot) for the playoffs, if they lose the Lions take that spot for this week but of course the Packers stay on their heals for the division, while if the Packers lose the Lions get another game ahead of them in the division but lose a game on the Seahawks for the bye week in the playoffs. So I am rooting for a tie game, of course.
There was one or two tidbits in the Lions game that I'll add in here, one is that Golden Tate leads the NFL in yards after the catch, which is no small thing. The other is that the officials during the game gave the Lions a penalty for hands to the face when it was the Bear player who actually had his hands in the Lions players' face.
How do officials get it so wrong, and it seems always against the Lions? Truly frightful.
Okay, so, despite it all, the Lions won, retain the division lead, and need to prepare to play in New York against the Giants. They need to get healthy if possible, and play much better then they did this week, for the Giants aren't quite as hurt as the Bears and will give them a run for the money. Not only that, but the Lions are either the 2nd or 3rd best team in the NFC (depending on how the Seahawks do this afternoon), it's high time they started acting like it. That means imposing the teams' will on other teams, not squeaking out a win in the final minutes of the game... even if all wins count the same in the record book. Having some swagger, some confidence, as you go into the playoffs is no small thing, especially if your defense hardly ever blitzes.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 5:36 PM
Sunday, December 4, 2016
The 8-4 Detroit Lions beat the 5-7 Saints 28 to 13 in New Orleans. The Lions never fell behind in this game, for the first time this season. They also won by more then one score, for the first time this year. On top of that, the Vikings lost their game week 12 to put the Lions first in the division with a little extra room to spare, though the Packers are now the team to keep an eye on over the rest of the month. They have Seattle at home next week then play each of their divisional rivals over the last 3 weeks (Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit). It will truly be a race to the finish as far as the divisional winner is concerned, luckily the Lions have already been spotted a lead.
Matthew Stafford was 30 of 42 (71.43%) for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Meanwhile Drew Brees was 31 of 44 (70.45%) for 326 yards and 3 interceptions. The Lions were the better defense on the field today, and Stafford was the better quarterback. I believe I saw a graphic during the game that Matthew Stafford is first in the NFL in red zone efficiency or perhaps it was scoring. Either way the Lions will not be having a losing season this year, as they are already at 8 wins with 4 more games to go. Those 4 games include home against the Bears, away at the Giants and at the Cowboys, then on New Year's Day it's the Lions hosting the Packers for what could be the big finish.
Passes were completed to 7 different players, including Eric Ebron (4 for 38 yards) and two running backs. There were 4 running back with carries in the game if you include Staffords 3 runs for 22 yards, and those 4 managed 85 yards total while the Lions defense only allowed 50 yards rushing.
November's NFC Special Teams Player of the Month (Matt Prater) was 5 for 5 kicking field goals, with a long of 52. That's a good start for December as well.
The whole team (the part that was healthy anyway) showed up to prove they are contenders in this year's playoff race, not just "lucky". With there being no turnovers for the Lions at all, this away game was never in serious jeopardy of being lost. It may be the first time this year where Lions fans managed to keep their blood pressure down and their nails intact.
Next week the 3-9 Bears come to Detroit, they will try to play spoiler as they are no longer in contention for the division lead with only 4 weeks to go. Meanwhile the Packers won and are at 6-6 but hold the tie breaker over the Lions at present so they are only 1.5 games behind. The Packers are ahead of the Vikings now, who also are at 6-6 which makes them 2.5 games behind the Lions due to the Lions owning the tie breaker over them. With all the divisional games yet to be played the number of playoff scenarios are many, but the Lions are in the drivers seat by virtue of their current lead in the division. It's good to be first.
After post edit: Here's the graphic I spoke of https://twitter.com/1PridePrincess/status/805496246706307076 And another new item. First away win after Thanksgiving game since 1974. https://twitter.com/richeisen/status/805196121106546688
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 7:31 PM
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving 2016!
The 7-4 Detroit Lions beat the 6-5 Minnesota Vikings for the 2nd time this year with a score of 16-13 at home on Thanksgiving Day. This makes it 11 games out of 11 that were either won or lost by one score and the 7th win out of 7 where the Lions were behind in the 4th quarter then came back to win. This time though, it wasn't all on Stafford, sure he got the team down the field far enough to get within field goal range for Matt Prater to tie the game, but it was the defense, more specifically it was Darius Slay, who got the interception within field goal range for Prater to hit the game winning field goal as time expired.
Matthew Stafford was 23 of 40 (57.5%) for 232 yards one touchdown and no interceptions. His percentage was the lowest in over a year but then there were a couple of drops, a few passes thrown away to avoid being sacked, and 3 spikes to stop the clock. Without all those things (6 of which were required to win the game) he would've easily exceeded 75% completion. Now even though the defense won the game at the end, they did allow Bradford to hit 83.87% of his passes... an extremely effective day, primarily due once again to the lack of any kind of pressure. If defense wins championships then the Lions may be in trouble down the road.
Why am I mentioning the possibility of the playoffs? Well the Lions are now in sole command of the division, having the tie breaker over the Vikings means they are a full 2 games ahead of both the Vikings and the Packers, three ahead of the Packers should they lose on Monday night football this week. Meanwhile the Lions have a few extra days to get healthy and prepare for the playoff push that is coming up (can you say 'important games in December' anyone?).
The Lions also tied the NFL record for the number of continuous games played with results of 7 points or less. All in all it's a great season so far, and their next game is December 4th in New Orleans. I suspect that to be a very high scoring game, and a tough one to win. But no matter what, you have to watch the game until the final seconds as you just can't count the offense out no matter the score. As unbelievable as that is.
Lions have games away at the Saints, then home against the Bears, away at the Giants and the Cowboys, then finally at home on New Years' day against the Packers. It's going to take a lot of hard work and if indeed any of this season is due to it, some good luck, to continue with the plot the Lions have been following so far this year. Just like today though, I'm looking for to what's next. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 6:00 PM