Monday, September 14, 2009

IF Not = 45-27 Loss

IF Not = 45-27 Loss

September 14th, 2009 | by detfan1979 |

There are some great thoughts/comments on the game in the comments of the last post, so be sure to check them out. I’ve decided to keep the “initial thoughts” format that I used for the preseason games, since it has received a good response. Also feel free to point out in the comments what you agree/disagree with — as well as points I may have missed. For a great drive-by-drive summary, check out Pride of Detroit.

  • Lets start off by acknowledging something that is often understated in NFL circles: Drew Brees is literally the “next Dan Marino”. His team’s defense has consistently let him down in New Orleans (maybe until this year, who knows?) but he is a Hall of Fame caliber QB. No questions. He is quick, accurate, and has an uncanny sense of pressure and where his options are on the field that he rarely gets sacked. He is just too quick, and has too many offensive options to go to. Brees is also one of the NFL’s most accurate passers, which is even doubly amazing considering the Saints do not play a dink-n-dunk WCO style, but a downfield passing attack (which generally makes it harder to be accurate). It is not a shame to have Brees hang up 45 points; MUCH better defenses than the Lions will see the same or more points put up on them as they reel into their locker rooms after the game going “there was no way to stop them.”
  • Along this line, remember the Saints had (still have) the #1 offense in the NFL. The Lions had the 32nd ranked defense last season. One ifseason isn’t going to close that gap.
  • I really liked that getting down 14-0 early didn’t kill the Lions’ spirit, nor panic the coaches.
  • An already thin secondary was hurt further with Buchanon out at the last minute; Wow is Eric King not a starter. Anthony Henry has still got it though. William James looked better than King; If Buchanon is out against Minny you may see James in versus King for the base package.
  • Dizon made some decent plays while in, as did Levy (especially knocking Bush away from the ball so it could be recovered by the Lions on the muffed punt).
  • Hill looked pretty good out there for a rookie from a small school; watch out if him and Cohen both take strides forward next season.
  • Gun was in a no-win situation out there. When he dropped guys back to stop the long ball, Brees had plenty of time and gashed the Lions with the short-pass and the run. When he brought anyone up to stuff the run, Brees would adjust quick and strike deep.
  • The Lions cannot get pressure against a good Oline without blitzing right now. Fortunately, Brees is the best QB leading the best offense the Lions will face this season. So this should, by rights, be the most lopsided game. I mean it. Seriously. Stop looking at me like that, of course I’m fine…oh, forget it. Just trust me on this one. Lions will lose a lot of games this year, but none of the rest by this much.
  • Love the fumble recovery TD. How long has that been? Same with the INT, and the big Punt and Kick-off Returns. It’s nice not seeing the Lions start on the 20 or deep in their territory every play.
  • I said in Lions congregation IF the Lions could get push with the Oline and bleed the clock, they could keep Brees and the scoring machine of the Saints O off the field. It didn’t happen, and it is a big reason they lost.
  • I also stated on here before that the Lions wouldn’t start winning until Stafford started settling down, and got past the initial bevy of Rookie mistakes. It’ll take more than one game before he stops getting over-excited and over-throwing open guys.
  • Speaking of Stafford, he was obviously jittery — but of the three INT’s, the first one was the most boneheaded. The second (later confirmed in Staffords post-game interview) he went to pump-fake and just lost control of the ball, which flew out into a whole mess of surprised defenders. The third one he was pressing too hard to make a play.
  • For the record, I consider those INT’s 1/3 Rookie “Oops”, 1/3 “Bad throws happen”, and 1/3 “Gunslinger”. The first third should decrease as he learns, the 2nd fluky one happens to all QB’s (unless it becomes a trend, then I reserve right to change my mind.), and the third one we’re going to have to learn to live with because that is the type of QB he is.
  • BTW — Keeping on Stafford, would his stats look so bad if that officiating blunder (no reason to blow the whistle, just let the play finish out. Big mistake by the officials as he was clearly in-bounds) of the bogus call-back on the TD stood? Stafford’s Stats would then read: 16/37, 1 70-yd TD, 3 INT, 208 yds. CJ would be 93 yds, 1 TD. Not gaudy by any means (see Brees, Drew for that) but a decent first game for a rookie trying to duke it out with the top offense in the game while his team sports a less-than stellar defense.
  • People have panned the special teams coverage, but the Saints have an excellent return game normally; As far as special teams the Lions certainly showed that the returners and coverage teams could make plays when it counted. A little more consistency on the coverage units will come as a higher talent level filters through the roster in the next couple of years.
  • I loved the 4th and 1 fake to Felton after using him to pick up the 3rd and 1 earlier, and then tossing to a wide-open Kevin Smith for the walk-in TD. That was sweet.
  • I hated how they worked the goal line package after the blown call on the Cj almost-TD. That was sour.
  • Overall feel: This game was competitive into the first part of the 4th quarter, when Brees finally managed to get enough onto the lead to make the game untenable. However, the Lions were a couple of missed opportunities (the short yardage goal-line game should see a LOT of work this week) from making it even closer.
  • Last season, teams pulled up in the 2nd quarter and cruised. The Lions had the Saints pushing hard into the start of the 4th. All things considered, that may not be a W for the record, but it is a win for progress.
  • It bears repeating that saying the secondary entire defense is “thin” on talent is like saying Fat Albert was “a little big boned”.
  • The Offensive Line needs to go back to the Pre-season and find their “push”. Maybe next week, but I’m doubtful…

Overall, it was an enjoyable game to watch for me. I really felt the Lions were “in” the game through the end of the 3rd — and I expected them fully to be blown out by halftime. I could also see where there was a lot of potential as some of these young players mature to capitalize on the opportunities the defense and special teams created; at least the opportunities were there.

I also have a strong sense that the coaching staff will actually change-up what wasn’t working, and keep tinkering until they find what (if anything) works. At least on Sundays, it appears there will be a stop to the insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result a la Rod Marinelli). In other words, I expect our secondary to continue to get scorched because…umm..because for the most part they just aren’t that good. But I don’t expect to see the Lions get gashed for a long TD on the exact same play by 3 different teams 3 weeks in a row because their “way” is the “right way”.

Next week will allow us to begin to see what was game specific, and what was a pattern. For instance, I’d like to see them get Pettigrew on the targets of the passes more than Heller, who had two key drops. More pressure on the QB would be good as well.

What are your thoughts on the game? What did you like? Dislike? optimistic? Think we are heading off to break to the 26-game record losing streak that the 76-77 Bucs hold?? {Lions are at 18 and counting} Throw in your comments! I like to reply to the comments, and get some dialogue going — and love the different perspectives and viewpoints they give.

A special THANK YOU to all readers new and old who follow the site. Your support is very much appreciated!!

Rating: 9.7/10 (6 votes cast)
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10 Responses to “IF Not = 45-27 Loss”

  1. By D.Samwich on Sep 14, 2009

    I think we saw some improvement in this game. Also agree with you on the coaching change which I think will be the biggest ifseason improvment. I really think there were 3 spots where the officals really let us down. Of course CJ’s TD. But there were what looked to me like 2 holding calls on NO that lead to immediate touchdowns which of course didn’t get called. I haven’t been able to rewatch the game but, there was 1 late in the 4th where Pearson was dragged down by the linman on an end around and the runner ran it right in for a TD. There was also another I think in the 3rd camera shot from the back of NO’s line where you can clearly see one of thir lineman almost yanking the jersey off are defender, breaking them for a big gain if not a TD. If the officiating hadn’t been so bad I think this game would have been much closer.

    Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  2. By Dean Price on Sep 14, 2009

    Great insight as always. I, too, felt that even with the (expected) defeat, there still was progress made.
    - Um, why did we use a #20 pick on a fancy new tight end and then not use him? It would have been nice to see B. Pettigrew provide some of the same spark that Shockey gave to the Saints.
    - Everbody knows the D is the weak spot. However, it was great to see A. Henry making plays. Now, where was J. Peterson, our new probowler linebacker? I don’t remember hearing his name at all during the game. I hope that was a fluke…
    - I do hope the O line finds their push against the Vikings; otherwise, Kevin Smith is going to have a hard time reaching 1000 yards this year.
    - Finally, in spite of the reduced level of talent, the D really did have more than a couple of nice stops. Can’t wait until we get an infusion of defensive talent.
    Go Lions!

    Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  3. By KCLionfan on Sep 14, 2009

    The Lions did about as well as expected, if you look at it honestly and objecttively. Something I would add to your observations: Seemed like they finally made in-game adjustments, the sign of intelligent coaching.

    The smart fan will look for progress, not bash them after one game.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  4. By RIP on Sep 14, 2009

    “But I don’t expect to see the Lions get gashed for a long TD on the exact same play by 3 different teams 3 weeks in a row because their “way” is the “right way”.” LMAO. That was my worst night mare from last season.

    The game was much in improved as far as entertainment. If it wasn’t for STs and the and the defensive TD, the offense may have scored only 10 points. This was due to a lack of a running game and a rookie QB.

    The out-of-bounds call on Johnson may not have been called if played in Detroit.

    Wondering if Brown is caught from behind again this year by a slower player on his kick return. Still loved the return, but 7 points would have been nice instead of 3.

    Agree with your INTs breakdowns. The consistant inaccuracy portion of his game blew me away. The recievers did a nice job of getting separation on thier routes. The throws were routinely not there. I doubt Linehan will put up with this. If this continues, I believe he will feel the presure more from his OC then from the outside of the locker room.

    Considering they were away and going against the No. 1 offense, this was a very entertaining game for me (although when I played I was 100% against losing).

    Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  5. By nubsnobber on Sep 15, 2009


    Another way to think about Drew Brees.

    Other than 1984, Drew Brees’ season last year was better than ANY of Dan Marino’s (or any other NFL QB) in the history of the NFL.

    Enough about the referees. They had a bad first game, too. And it was. The Lions will get better.

    How would you like to be Rod Marinelli right about now? Lost your first game. Check. Starting messiah throws four picks. Check. Starting middle linebacker is confirmed as being out for the season. Check. Your GM wants to sign re-hashed ex-Buccaneers like you did at your last job. Check. 0-16 ???

    Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  6. By chiefger139 on Sep 16, 2009

    stan kwan has showed progress on our special teams week after week. That was a one bright spot on sunday. We didnt give up any td’s and we actually got good position on some returns. Didnt see a bunch of penalities on kick offs either. Now if we can just have some resemblence of a defense and some sort of running game we can be competitive. Face it we need turnovers and they might as well start blitzing, hoping they can get some, see us being out passed and out run every game unless it dramatically changes next week. It really makes me wonder how we became so horrible on defense, was shaun rogers that good and now that hes gone weve never recovered since? well fat boy is suspended now for 4 games once again, so guess dumping him was the right thing to do, but it seems ever since he left we just cant compete.

    Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  7. By Isphet on Sep 16, 2009

    I felt bad for Gunther too. I feel like he’s only playing with checkers while the Saints were playing with chess pieces. Same board, just crappier pieces. Oh well.

    Saints – playing with chess pieces.
    Gunther – playing with checkers.
    Marinelli – too busy licking the “cherry squares” on the board to make in-game adjustments.

    With Rogers gone, watch how often the other team has an O lineman 3-5 yards past the line of scrimmage, blocking the Lions’ Linebackers. The LBs need free reign to make plays, not get swallowed up by 300+lb Offensive Tackles.

    So in that regard, Rogers was great to have on the team. Yeah, he was lazy, took plays off, and is generally a pain in the rear. The Lions need more bulk and talent in the center of the D-line. Until they get that; they won’t be very good defensively. I’m not a big Rogers fan myself, just saying that’s how he helps a defense even though he’s a lazy P.O.S.

    Nubs, I wondered about Marinelli too. If the Lions win a game before the Bears do, I wonder if the media will start counting Marinelli’s losing streak instead.

    Man I would LOVE to see a win this weekend against the Vikings. That would shut the media up for a while. And all the haters.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  8. By chiefger139 on Sep 16, 2009

    Hey the NFL is finally giving us some help LOL

    Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  9. By StreetWorm on Sep 17, 2009

    After watching the first game I’m thinking our entire season is really going to depend on the development of our O-line, and seeing our history at the O-line position this probably isn’t a good development.

    Over the past 2-3 years we’ve been expecting our offense to really pick up the pace for our defense, and with good reason. Besides Sims, every 1st round pick we’ve taken has been for an offensive weapon for…well, as long as I can remember really. And the payoff for this has been a pretty miniscule offensive performance. If you really take a look at the game our offense put up 10 points, taking away Delmas’ return and our special teams. This is especially pitiful because our defense and special teams truly did perform above expectations, at times at least they put the offense in position to score and to stop the bleeding.

    Considering that this is Stafford’s rookie season there really isn’t a reason to expect he will be able to step up and compensate for poor offensive performances. The only way that will happen is (1) the development of a running game and (2) better pass protection. However, neither of these things are going to happen if the O-line doesn’t find a way to open some holes for Kevin Smith.

    However this issue may be insurmountable for a couple of reasons:

    (1) The saints just gave every team that plays the Lions a cheat sheat on how to rattle Stafford. Those saying that the offensive playbook needs to be opened up are completely aloof. The only thing Linehan can really do is call screens and short-yardage plays because he needs to protect his young QB from getting demolished by defenses that will be constantly attacking him and coming at him from every angle imaginable.

    (2) Teams are going to take the lead on the Lions early. Period. When this happens they will then focus on plugging up the run during the first half to make the Lions completely one-dimensional in the second half. There isn’t much the O-line can do if the opposing D is completely stacked against the run.

    The bottom line — Get ready Lions fans because it’s going to be a long season…

    Rating: 2.0/5 (1 vote cast)
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