Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kicking Themselves

I had a great time at Ford Field with my brother - it was an exciting game and went into overtime.  What more could you ask for your money?  Oh yeah - the home team pulling out the win instead of choking away a loss.  Now, don't get me wrong -- The Lions were very close to an upset victory over the Jets.  They almost outplayed them long enough to win, but couldn't quite pull it out.  I had hoped they were ready to take the next step, but they aren't there - yet.  With the injuries they sustained in the process of losing to the Jets, I'm afraid it will be next season before we see if they have what it takes to pull out a win against a heavily favored team and close out an opponent and hold onto a lead late. 

Stafford is possibly done for the season, Shaun Hill isn't healthy yet, and Jason Hanson may not be healthy for a while.  Avril and Houston both were out for the fourth quarter and we could see the impact they were making on the field be pronounced when they were not on the field and their replacements didn't quite play up to that same level.  Here's hoping they aren't out too long.

Of all the injuries during that game, as soon as Hanson went down so did the kicking game.  Lions punted twice from Hanson's FG range during the game because they essentially had no kicking game without him.  Teams don't have roster space for a backup kicker, so any team in that situation would pretty much be stuck.  The Jets pinned their comeback on the leg of Nick Folk.  The Lions could only push for TD's instead of adding to their lead.

I think this led to the offense trying to do too much, and hurt them overall.  Sure, there were a lot of injuries and mistakes -- I won't re-catalog them all here -- but Hanson's had the most dramatic effect on the game.

Stafford was showing once again why he was the starting QB when healthy - throwing for 240 yards and two TD's against one of the league's top defenses.  Despite that, he needs to stay healthy to do so and it is obvious that he has an issue or 3 (as in grade 3 shoulder separation? Three shoulder injuries in the last year?) with his shoulders that needs to be addressed in some way.  When Healthy, as I've discussed in the past, is a tricky phrase because a player like Stafford does no good on the sidelines -- its time for them to maybe shut him down, do what needs to be done to keep him on the field in necessary.  It was great to have him back, but if there was too much of an injury risk they need to start rethinking how soon he returns to playing. 

The aftermath of this game will be felt for the rest of the season as well.  If Drew Stanton is starting, and not all the players dinged up come back, then you are looking at what were two projected road wins for the Lions against the struggling Bills and imploded Cowboys suddenly being much more in doubt. The upside is, the Lions can continue to develop their young talent, and Mayhew will likely have more premium draft choices in 2011 to continue stocking the roster for a playoff push next year. 

If they can only stop kicking themselves and take that next step that is.

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