I was sick today. Down on the knees in worship of the porcelain deity. While it wasn’t the Lions that made me sick today, it certainly was toss-worthy yesterday. For the Lions Congregation, a couple of guys essentially said we’d see the “same old Lions.” I was skeptical. All season, the phrase had yet to cross my mind. While the NCMV (Near Comeback Moral Victory) was classic Lions — it was also typical of a team that is close but not quite playoff ready.
This week it was not even close.
In typical inept fashion the Lions literally fumbled away the game with their usual boneheaded plays — even the Defensive Line got in on the act, erasing a fumble. The officiating, as usual, was horrendous — Raiola makes what could be his first ever pancake block and they call him for holding on the play. He wasn’t, they were just sure it couldn’t possibly have been a great play. The Lions DB’s didn’t even have to touch the Minnesota wideouts to draw a pass interference (not even illegal contact) while the Lions WR couldn’t draw a flag unless the opposing DB mugged them so well they got their wallet from their inside pad pocket. Even then… The Refs were calling so little (on either team at one point) that the game got very very out of hand. That crew damn well better have heard about it today. You’re not calling it right if you have offsetting personal foul calls more than 3 times in a game, much less 5 minutes.
The whole game was sloppy for both teams – late hits, clipping. Yes. Clipping. When is the last time you saw someone actually get clipped? Horrible, horrible performance by players, coaches, refs. period. All of them.
The Vikings walked away with a win, and they deserved as the less awful of the teams taking the field. I would not feel good about the path Minnesota is on any more than the path the Lions are on after that game. Minnesota got the win that was predicted, but they didn’t “get well” in the least. The only thing they found out is that when they play 11 on 5 Adrian Peterson can still run, and Favre can throw the ball to guys that don’t have a DB within 30 yards of them. Even Shaun Hill and Maurice Morris could have pulled that off. Well, maybe…
Specifics, you ask? Okay… here’s just a select few nuggets of negativity before we get to what I liked (yes, I did like some things about this game. No, I’m not crazy.)
- Jonathan Wade – just get it over with and sign someone, anyone. Re-sign Bly. I don’t care. Houston still looked okay – not great. Wade was picked on constantly yet again, and the only plays he really made were bad ones. Not. Good. If Aaron Berry were healthy he’d be getting a look as a starter right now, but he’s not. And what does it say about Spievey that Wade and Aplhonso Smith are ahead of him? Yikes.
- It wasn’t just Wade. The Linebackers outside of Levy (who didn’t look 100% healthy) also did zip. zero. nada. all game long. Smith held onto one gift wrapped Favre INT which was a miracle in and of itself. (not the INT, the fact he didn’t drop it.) Levy only gets Kudos because he was mostly on the tight ends, who were held in check over the middle when he had them.
- I was serious about 11 vs 5 when Minnesota was on offense. I knew the secondary and LB were weak but ye gods – give us Paris Lenon back it’s that bad!
- Dropped passes. Poor runs. Even before Best went out, the running game was going nowhere. But the passing game could have been — they just need to feed it to CJ until they triple him (he can beat the double – he did a couple of times in this game) then start running against the lighter fronts. Best wasn’t getting a lot of room — Morris had none.
- Pettigrew made up for last week’s great performance with some key drops against Minnesota. He needs a lot more consistency.
- Shaun Hill is trying really hard to make sure he kills his positive win record as a starter before Stafford comes back. He is also proving why he is a backup, and not starting. Those two end zone INTs were just awful decisions, and bad plays by the thrower and receiver. He just doesn’t see the field the same way Stafford does.
- Clock management and play calling by the coaches. Quit being stubborn about the run. Go max protect and throw it up there with a run mixed in. Anything is better than slamming into the line over and over.
- Hill’s trouble with end-zone INTs are why Schwartz kicked the FG at the end of the half.
- Logan’s fumble was his only big error so far. And it was a real zinger of a one too. Good thing he’s been returning well — and even had a nice gain on his one offensive play. It can happen to anyone, but the timing was an awful momentum switch the Lions never got over.
I could go on and on and on about the negative, but there was some positive as well in the game.
- The defensive line continues to play well and pressure the quarterback. Even getting some average linebackers and secondary behind them will lead to a solid defense soon. (crosses fingers Lions will finally find those)
- Corey Williams took full advantage of his time in Green Bay with Favre and was doing a great job reading him all game. Nice INT too.
- The defensive line continues to take advantage of being singled due to other members needing to be doubled — and still guys like Suh are beating the double team.
- Sammie Hill continues to improve, and is a legit “starter” in that 3-man defensive tackle rotation.
- CJ finally caught a few passes before the last quarter — they need a “Randy Ratio” to him ASAP.
- Sheffler stepped up again with a nice game.
- Derrick Williams finally showed up at WR. The Lions need to pass more often
- Even though things would be looking not so great if Hill was the long term starter, he isn’t. Morris isn’t the long term starting RB. In the past, they would have been the starters — but not any more. Stafford and Best will both be back, and if the defense can also get a little healthier we may see some good things as the Lions get into the back half of the season.
- Minnesota, Green Bay, and Chicago on the road in the first 4 weeks of the season. That is brutal no matter how you look at it and but for one ridiculous “process” the Lions would exit 1-3.
Green Bay will be a brutal game against a top tier team (even without Ryan Grant – Aaron Rodgers makes that offense click). Still, it must be taken for what it is and how well the Lions hold up against a far superior team will be a possible barometer for how they will play when they face a team closer to their level.