I had so wanted to write something positive about the Detroit Lions. But other than just a few moments in the game, they looked more like a team playing for the number one pick in the NFL’s 2019 draft.
That may be a bit harsh after only just one game but it really isn’t one game. It’s more like 416 games (number of games since the Lions last made the playoffs).
Since that time, the Lions have had 10 head coaches, including Matt Patricia, former defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. It’s kind of hard to find consistency when not one coach since Wayne Fontes (who was the last coach to have the Lions in the playoffs) stays any longer than 3 years.
The Green Bay Packers have had 16 head coaches…since 1919…and just four since 1991 and have made the playoffs 20 times since 1991, winning 2 Super Bowls.
The New England Patriots, whom the Lions are trying to emulate, have also had just four head coaches since 1991, made the playoffs 19 times and won 5 Super Bowls in 9 appearances.
What were some of the goals the Lions wanted to obtain in 2018?
- Improve the running game – Last time the Lions had a 100 yard rushing game was on Thanksgiving Day against the Green Bay Packers. Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards that day. Coincidentally, Bush was the last to rush for over a 1,000 yards in that same year and the Lions haven’t had 100 yard rushing game nor a 1,000 yard season since. To bolster the running attack of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, the Lions signed LeGarrette Blount, a 6-0, 247 lbs. running back making him one of the biggest backs the Lions have had in recent years. In his eight year career, Blount has topped 1,000 yards twice. I’ve given up on the Lions having 1,000 yard rusher, I just want to see the Lions average over 4 yards per carry!
- Keep Matthew Stafford upright – Well Monday night’s game didn’t have them going in the right direction on that goal. Stats for Monday’s game show that Stafford didn’t get sacked but he was hit several times. Twice he was shaken up and even taken out for a series having getting sandwiched between two Jets defenders.
- Keep turnovers to a minimum – Again, not going on the right direction. Stafford threw 4 interceptions, one being run back for a Jets TD and Kenny Golladay had a fumble that he recovered. Rookie QB Sam Darnold, despite having his first NFL pass intercepted and returned for a TD, looked far more poised than the Lions 10 -year veteran QB Stafford.
- Protect the Home Field – Not sure this is actually one of the stated goals but over recent years, the Lions haven’t done a very good job playing at home. Since moving to Ford Field in 2002, the Lions have a 59-69 record at home, winning just a little over 46% of their home games. In that same time frame, the Patriots went 107-20 winning nearly 85% of those games. The Packers? 89-38-1 at home winning just about 70% of their games since 2002. If the Lions could win at least 6 home games a year and go .500 on the road, that gives them a consistent 10-6 record which at least gives them a shot at the playoffs.
I don’t say that this one game is going to be an indicator at what is going to be indicative of the season. It’s just one game and all teams have stinkers throughout the season. Maybe it’s a good thing the Lions got it out of the way early!
The Lions are not out of it. But the NFC North is a super-competitive division with all four teams having top-tier quarterbacks…and yes, I am including Chicago Bears QB Mitch Tribusky with Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins. Out of the four, Tribusky is more a game manager than the rest but he more than held his own in the 24-23 loss against the Packers at Lambeau.
I just hope the Lions get their stuff together and start playing quality football.