Normally, I wait a day or so before I write about a disappointing loss. But this time, the Lions had it in their grasp and literally let it slip away.
And it’s not a single player or coach that is too blame for all of this. It is a culmination of players and coaches that are to blame.
Let’s begin with linebacker Tahir Whitehead. Lions have the Bengals in third and long and just about everyone knew the Bengals were going to throw a screen pass, particularly Whitehead who had it read perfectly.
Instead of wrapping the player up, he chose to go for the big hit and Giovani Bernard bounced off and ran for 12 yards and picked up a critical third down.
Next up, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. He didn’t call a bad game. In fact, I thought it was one of his more balanced attacks where the offense gained 87 yards rushing and 207 yards receiving. However, the Bengals took away Golden Tate, the Lions most dangerous receiver and Cooter did absolutely nothing to free Tate up.
How do you not find away to get the ball to the most effective player, who leads the league with the most yards after catch?
And finally, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. He blew the challenge call when the Lions had a third and 28 and Matthew Stafford connected with Tate for a 48 yard catch. However, the ball was loose and referees called an incomplete pass. With less than 3 minutes to go and you are fighting for your playoff life, why not challenge the call? It was close enough to be have the call reversed. Use everything you have available to you.
Caldwell failed the Lions and the fans the most by not challenging that call.
The Lions are not that far away from being a playoff team. And I’ve been a fan for a very long time and I am not running away from them now.
Caldwell did bring some sense of stability when he was hired in 2014. He has gotten them into the payoffs twice in that time but never got past the first round.
It’s time he goes.
In fact, it’s probably time for GM Bob Quinn to blow up the coaching staff. I’d like to see Teryl Austin move in to the top spot and the Lions keep Cooter as Offensive Coordinator since he and Matthew Stafford have such a great connection.
But if you are going to blow up the coaching staff, you might just clean house. And this would be a golden opportunity to have Bob Quinn get an elite and imaginative staff to bring a fire the Lions haven’t had since the days of Wayne Fontes.
How about dipping into the New England Patriots staff and get Josh McDaniels? He has a year of head coaching experience and has been a productive offensive coordinator in two stints with the Patriots as well one year with the St. Louis Rams.
Want somebody fresh? Go after David Shaw, Stanford’s head coach. He has put up some impressive records offensively and would bring some imagination to the Lions offense.
I suppose this is a gut reaction to yet another heart-breaking season. But I also witnessed that the Lions DIDN’T WANT THIS GAME! And that falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, Jim Caldwell.
Yes, the stoic manner he has, the calm, reserved manner and the emotionless persona has pretty much sucked the passion from the Lions game. Football is an emotional game and the head coach has to find that fine balance of when to use it and when not to. Unfortunately, Caldwell chooses never to tap into emotion when it’s needed.
Outside of blowing up the coaching staff, the Lions aren’t that far away from having a really, really good team. Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback and they have good receivers in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron (though he needs to work on hanging on to passes) and the promising rookie Kenny Golladay.
A few weeks ago, I was promoting the fact the Lions need a big running back in order to grind out games. But with the emergence of Tion Green over the past few games, I don’t think we need to. We can lose Ameer Abdullah and have Theo Riddick take over as the primary back and beef up the defensive line.
Ziggy Ansah needs some help…and while I applaud the Lions for picking up Dwight Freeney for the playoff push, he isn’t a permanent solution. Haloti Ngata is on his last legs and Ansah needs a partner in crime to get pressure on QB’s.