I realize that maybe it sounded like I was making a goat of Daunte for last week's loss. That really wasn't the whole point I was trying to make. It was really that he is unprepared to be starting, and the Lions passed up an opportunity to let Stanton get some starting time while Dan O was injured and Daunte was learning, and yet still be able to pull him back into a backup role with the minimum of fuss after Dan O is better, or Daunte was up to speed.
Also, the overall idea yesterday was that the Veterans are making mistakes versus stepping up to help in crunch time, which is in my opinion what has sunk this team in its close losses more than almost any other factor.
okay - so what did I like?
I liked the look of the Oline, overall, as far as the running game was concerned. The holes weren't gaping like the ones Carolina was making, but they were there and K. Smith made the most of them, and his opportunity to get the bulk of the load.
Actually, I really didn't see McCollum as an upgrade to Raiola at center. There seemed to be mroe confusion on passing downs, and he wasn't pulling quite as well as Dom does, and while he did decent in run blocking, I think Dom was better out in space on what could be longer runs. Still, it was nice to have a competent backup center. I really think what made McCollum look better, along with the rest of the line, is that the Lions got arguably the best game out of the starting pair of G it has gotten all season.
I disagree that the gameplan was good -- initially, it seemed to be working. But as usual, when it came to in-game adjustments the Lions panicked, misadjusted, and were inconsistent. Had they stuck to the origninal game plan, I fully believe we'd be talking about their first win. Teh gameplan? Keep running Smith!! Had they continued that into the 4th quarter, especially around the time of that fateful interception, then Carolina would have had to bring up an extra guy, leaving CJ or Mac open (or CJ single-covered, which is often the same thing).
Other good things were that the Defense did a decent job stopping the Panthers -- especially early. However, the LB were beyond awful. Nece and Lenon were always sliding so far to the SS run that when the Panthers did a designed cutback to the weakside, the RB was into the secondary as the LB hadn't filled the right fits.
And tackling!!! Note to Travis Fisher: Tackling is where you hit someone and wrap them up with your arms and body, bringing them to the ground. NOT bumping into them and then wondering why they didn't just stop!
Bullocks and Pearson had their work cut-out for them with the gaping holes the RB ahd to wrok with coming into teh secondary, but I saw at least 3 great open-field tackles by Pearson, and 2 or 3 by Bullocks. Many will look at the one he missed leading to the TD (Pearson), but had him and Bullocks not been hitting and tackling beyond well ind the secondary, things would have been MUCH worse. I'm talking 2 200-yard rushers worse.
Coverage wasn't too bad in the passing game, although I'm going to finally go with ChiefGer and say I don't want to see Fisher anywhere on the field unless absolutely necessary -- especially after Keith Smith is healthy.
I have some more thoughts, that I will try to put into coherent bunches/groupings for tomorrow.