My Concerns With The Detroit Lions
There have been some things that I like about this new coaching regime, like the fact that most of this year's draft picks look to have more potential than any Lions drafted in the Millen Era not named Ernie Sims, Shaun Rogers, or Calvin Johnson.
For the most part, I'm willing to give Jim Schwartz a two or three-season pass. With that being said, if he is so smart, why are we making the same stupid mistakes?
I'll start with the special teams. First and foremost, Schwartz has to axe Stan Kwan at the end of the season; there is no excuse for the abomination the Lions call special teams.
Secondly, does Schwartz not realize that not one person who the Lions have trotted out there has even resembled a competent kick returner?
We started the year with Aaron Brown taking kicks, but the Lions figured they would get more production out of Derrick Williams. Well, it hasn't happened and Williams' stats are actually worse than Brown's. On punt returns, we have Dennis Northcutt—do I even need to say anything else? It's Dennis Northcutt.
Meanwhile, the Lions had a good college kick returner on their practice squad in Tristan Davis and they cut him. I also wrote an article earlier in the season about the many good free agent return men out there.
However, the Lions still stubbornly continue to handicap themselves on special teams and on offense since they're getting horrible field position. So I guess Schwartz is okay with the fact his team will never have good field position.
Next up, we have the Jeckel and Hyde units in the offense and defense. People are quick to point out how horrible the defense is, but I've actually seen some improvement on that side of the ball. On offense, they were getting better and better, but have started regressing since Stafford's injury.
Maybe I've watched one too many Lions games this season. Maybe I'm starting to look at the world through the eyes of a boxer who has taken one too many hits to the head. The fact of the matter is, Scott Linehan is making me miss Mike Martz. There, I said it, but please hold all stones, rotten tomatoes, and other projectiles until the end of the article.
I just don't believe in Scott Linehan at all; I'm willing to give him till the end of next year to show me something, but right now, he really isn't. Yeah, it's the players' first year in his system, but his system looks like crap.
Martz had guys like Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey looking amazing. With Linehan, it seems like even with teams loading up on Calvin, nobody else can get open.
Sure, a lot of that falls on the players, but how much? Are we saying that Jon Kitna is that much better than Stafford? Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald that much better than Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt?
Well, Kitna is sitting on the bench in Dallas, probably for the rest of his career. Dennis Northcutt is statistically better than Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald combined this season, mostly because McDonald hasn't played, but still both Northcutt and Johnson beat out Furrey.
You might say that Martz had horrible play-calling, well so does Linehan. Linehan's isn't as bad as Martz was when it comes to running, but everything else Linehan does boggles my mind. No, we aren't the most talented team, but that shouldn't mean the play calling should be crappy.
I swear that I sit there every Sunday feeling like a physic when the Lions offense is on the field. The worst part about it is the plays I'm predicting don't match the situation the Lions are in on the field.
Case in point, if I see a 3rd-and-short, I predict pass because that's what this genius usually dials up, no matter how many times it burns us. Even if they are in a position where they have to go for it on fourth down if they don't convert, it's still a pass! Martz had a better system point-blank, and it showed, because after he left we went from a top-10 offense to crap.
Linehan has managed to take us from crap to crap, but we're all okay with it because we have low expectations. If he hasn't done something with this offense by the end of next season I want Martz back ... with a clause in his contract that says he must run the ball at least 20 times per game!
Now the defense; yes the defense has been bad, but I honestly think they have been getting better and better. I don't have the stats to back it up, but I do know that the offense has been horrendous since Stafford came back from injury.
That means that we have been putting our bad defense out on the field far more than we should have to. The Rams put up 17 points on us, yet our offense was only able to manage 10; are we really going to put that on the defense?
Then there is the Seattle game, which we could have run away with if the offense had been able to put together anything after our amazing start. It didn't happen, though, as Stafford turned the ball over five times.
I don't care if it was Pittsburgh's defense on the field; if your quarterback throws five interceptions, you're probably not going to win.
Last but not least is the Vikings game, where we were only able to put up 10 points. Yet again we're putting our bad defense out on the field and saying "win the game for us."
Of course it didn't work out, you're supposed to hide your weaknesses, not say "here is our weak spot, take your best shot." Then again, over the last few weeks the offense hasn't exactly looked like our strong point.
The offense also has less of an excuse than the defense, even if Stafford missed a couple of weeks. On defense, we're signing people off the street! We'll sign a guy, he'll get hurt that week, we'll put him on injured reserve, then begin the cycle all over again.
Right now Cunningham is getting the benefit of the doubt because he has far less to work with. Kwan and Linehan, my patience is already beginning to wear thin.
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