Hey guys. I sent my buddy an email this morning when he asked what I saw happened on Sunday, and whats going on. After sending it, well I figured it was worth discussion.
As for the Lions… Sheesh. What a difference 2 weeks makes.
To keep a long story short, here is what I see.
The Lions, are a fragile team of mental midgets. What I mean by that is, look at how good they can look against some teams, and then how bad they can against others. Seattle straight bullied them. Minnesota straight bullied them, and then some. They punched the Lions in the face, and the Lions turned tail.
I think the Lions once again, went into the “we arrived” mode once they beat Miami. Ricky Jean Francois and a few others commented that the team was not sharp in practice leading up to the game against Seattle. Well, I think trading for Damon Harrison helped the defense, but it cost the team their mental edge. I think the players felt like “ok, now we have our guy, and all is well”. Then stopped working and got straight up worked against the Hawks.
Then come to this week. Bob Quinn had said the Lions wouldnt trade Tate for anything less than a 4th. They got a 3rd from Philly. Trading Tate was the right move. Tate was very fair with the Lions, and he was a good player for sure, but he didnt have the Lions over the top by ANY stretch of the imagination. The Lions got worked against Seattle with Tate. Tate had told the Lions that he wouldnt hold out or miss practice or anything, but when his contract was up he wanted to be paid comparable to what other WR’s are getting. He was right, but the Lions werent going to pay 17 million for a WR who is over 30. They tried to negotiate an extension but couldnt, and rather than lose him for nothing with iffy prospects on the season, Quinn traded him for what should be a player next year. Plus it recovers the 3rd they gave up for trading up to get DeShawn Hand, who has been a great player already.
Well, a bunch of players began bitching that the Lions gave up on the season. And then in Minny, it was clear from the very beginning the team had no mental edge. Stafford was terrible. Oddly enough, the Lions have now shown they can run the ball, and teams are loading up to stop the run. Minny was literally running 8-9 man fronts, and daring the Lions to pass. And guess what? They couldnt do it. It reminded me of the 46 defense. They jammed up the entire line and dared you to pass against it. Remember the only QB who beat the '85 Bears? Dan Marino. You know how he did it? Exploited the fact that the Bears could be spread out with quick passing and he gassed their front, and ran the corners ragged. Guess what the Lions and Stafford tried to do. Tried to run. Then took long drops and got sacked the entire game. Then pissed and moaned because they didnt have a short passing game.
We’ve gone back and forth on this, but i have to say, Im losing faith in Stafford. I think he is very talented. With Stafford though, there’s just always something isnt there. In the Minny game, it was 17-6 in the beginning of the 4th. Lions still had a chance, as the defense wasnt great but it was stopping Minny especially in the 2nd half. Stafford has a scramble, and then for God knows what reasons, decides to puss out and pitches the ball to Kerryon, who wasnt ready, and fumble. And scoop and score. Ballgame. It was a boneheaded decision. Absolutely indefensible. It also reminded me of another QB. #9 in fact. Used to play for years in Dallas. Only won 2 playoff games in his entire career, as good as it was. He had a reputation of playing very high level football, and then going into absolute braindead moments that cost his team. I told Johann, Stafford just went all Tony Romo.
Stafford had 5 straight games where his QB rating was outstanding. After a disasterous game against the Jets, Stafford was able to right the ship and played great. Then, he loses his head against the Hawks, fumbling because he STILL cannot put 2 hands on the football when under duress, and then throws bad picks when trying to scrape together a comeback.
I know theres a lot of unfair stats being tossed at Stafford. Some of its right, like the Stad Padford gimmick. Its true, he piles up numbers late in the game when teams are playing soft coverage. He has had a good amount of comebacks with teams caught trying to run clock. However, Joe Lombardi (ex OC from Caldwell) had an article come out where he said that he felt hamstrung with what he could do with Stafford. I had already been following this pattern before, but what he said kinda hammered my suspicion. Check this out.
Lions OC’s with Stafford
Linehan - Fired because he was repetitive with playcalling, and for never being able to implement a solid running game post Jahvid Best. Who can ever forget his 3rd and 1, and lets go 5 wide with no backs so teams can blitz.
Lombardi - Fired because of repetitive playcalling, and low offensive output
Jim Bob Cooter - In serious hot water as a Caldwell holdover, and because once again, even with Kerryon Johnson, there is very basic playcalling and repetitive playcalling. Now with Tate gone, the Lions looked clueless on 3rd down.
If you notice something, every OC is in trouble for repetitive playcalling. Everyone makes a big deal about the subjective stat how Stafford doesnt beat “winning” teams. I say subjective, because he has beaten winning teams when we played them, then they finish 8-8 and it doesnt count. However, how about Staffords record against elite teams? Its really bad. My feeling is, because elite teams know our tendencies. They know what we are calling before we do. And heres what Im hitting at. Staffords limitations arent physical. Its mental. I think Stafford gets too comfortable, and Im going to use the word, lazy. When Calvin was here, anytime Stafford wanted an out, wheres Calvin. When Tate was here, anytime Stafford needed an out, wheres Tate? When theres something going on and you cant put your finger on it, and when its usually consistency, it usually is a mental thing.
Now, the Lions biggest problem? A complete lack of leadership. Ive been worried about this for awhile, but now I really am. They asked one of the Lions guys on a radio interview casually, who are the leaders on the Lions. His first answer? Um… Well you know Stafford. Uh, Jarrad Davis is kinda getting there, and then he stammered through a few more half answers. Thats clear answer for, the Lions lack leadership.
Stafford has had 10 years to lead the Lions. He still cannot answer a question without saying “Um”. Its become a comedy bit in Detroit, songs made up of Stafford saying “Um”. When you are 21, thats ok. When you are 31, you need to be able to step up and answer the bell. Stafford is the same QB he has been in years 4-10. Moments of brilliance, wrapped up by moments of sheer stupidity and lackluster play. Every time you think he is coming around, he goes right back in the tank. Now, couldnt you say the same thing about the Lions the past 6 years? Just about the time they start putting it together, right back in the tank. Then once the games dont count anymore, they win again.
Im telling you. The facts are piling up, and Im tired of trying to see my way around it. Stafford = Tony Romo