Detroit Lions: First Quarter Grades

Chris StewardContributor IOctober 10, 2009

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 04: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks for a receiver against the Chicago Bears on October 4, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 48-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Four games down, 12 games to go.

A quarter of the way through the season and what have we learned?

Hmmm, Matthew Stafford is better than we (read: I) first believed. He has gotten more efficient with each game, with his passer rating increasing with each game. Also, Stafford has managed to cut down on turnovers after the horrific first two games. I honestly believe he will play Sunday against the Steelers. I'm thinking he is feeling confident about his performance thus far and want to keep the roll going.

Unfortunely, we have also learned the running game is seriously inconsistent. Stafford has only been sacked 10 times in four games with half of those coming against Chicago. Also, with the running game being efficient every other game, that tells me the line CAN play well and be competitive. I can't say for sure the cause of the inconsistency, but I know the talent is there.

We have also learned that the special teams unit, besides the actual kicking part, is horrendous. The return team needs to be returned and the coverage units needs to be covered (ie; buried). It is inconceivable for Chicago to have more return yards than offense. That is insane.

The defense has been pretty good in each game except the Saints game but can we really hold that against them? Against Minnesota, they held Farve to 155 yards passing and AP to 92 yards on the ground. I can't really complain about that at all. If the offense didn't die out in the second half, that was a winnable game. The stats from the Washington game was misleading. Sure, Campbell threw for 340 yards, but 155 of those came on the last two drives when Detroit went to a prevent defense to avoid giving up big plays. The Chicago game was a different scenario all together. The defense only allowed 276 yards, but was that because they played well or their special teams unit let them play arena football with the field position.

So, even with a 1-3 record, I am encouraged by the teams performance thus far especially when you take into account the three teams the Lions lost to are a combined 11-1. Matter of fact, its not like anyone thought Detroit was going into the bye week at .500 anyway. So be patient, I think the team will be a lot better as the season progresses and the young players get more experience and the units gel. Remember, about 60 percent of the roster is new.