Oh, what could have been.
We can only hope that this could be the low point of the Schwartz era.
After building off that great win over the Redskins with a very solid effort against the Jets, all signs pointed towards the Lions finally getting a road win. Sure, Stafford was out and Shaun Hill was coming back from an injury, but this was the winless Buffalo Bills the Lions were playing.
To tell you the truth I didn't expect the Lions to blow them out. The Bills were playing everybody tough, because after all nobody wants to go 0-16 and they need to play better against the teams where they have a realistic chance of victory.
With Hill being a little rusty and the Lions coming off that emotional loss last week, I expected one of those tough, sloppy games with the winning score in the low 20s. The game would be in doubt until late in the fourth quarter, but in the end the superior talent of the Lions would pull it out.
I was right about the sloppy part and the Lions almost pulling it out, but I was wrong about the tough part as far as the Lions were concerned.
That was the worst effort we have seen out of the Lions this year and maybe the worst since Schwartz took over. I know those Bengal and Raven games were pretty bad last year, but that was more a talent issue.
I'm not even going to go into how the Lions couldn't run against one of the worst run defenses in the game, or how the only reason it didn't get worse was because of a couple of penalties called on the Bills special teams.
I'm not even going to talk about how Shaun Hill threw the ball away on the two-point conversion, or how Jason Hanson makes that field goal.
No, I'm not here to pile it on.
There are plenty of words written about this game already, so what I am going to do is assign some homework to the Lions coaching staff. This isn't due now, right after the Cowboys game the coaches will have plenty of work getting ready for the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving.
Hardly seems fair does it? A short week and all the Lions have to do is figure out a way to beat the Patriots.
This homework assignment is due after what looks like another turkey will be put to rest in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
While all the national writers are whining about how the NFL must put an end to their misery by taking away the Lions Thanksgiving Day game, Martin Mayhew has a little work for the coaches that he wants done.
First, I want Cunningham and the defensive coaches in the film room. I have no complaints about the Lions defense and their game plans; in fact, it's because they have been so good that I am giving them this extra work.
You know what they say, the more you do the more they want. Mayhew can make it up to them by promising plenty of pumpkin pie and leftover ham for sandwiches.
This won't be a game plan for the Lions next opponent, the Chicago Bears, at home. What I want them doing is looking at game film of the Lions offense.
Brian Billick did something similar in 2004 when he hired a long time defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to help coach the offense. While I'm not saying the Lions have Gun sit in on the offensive game planning, it might be pretty helpful for Jim Schwartz and Mayhew to sit in a film session with the Lions defensive coaches while they dissect the Lions offense.
I don't have any of the Lion offensive coaches there because I want the defensive guys speaking freely. Schwartz can be the messenger and he will have Mayhew to back him up.
Besides, the offensive coaches will be pretty busy themselves because they will be watching tape of how the Colts, Saints and Patriots run an offense. Don't bother showing them the Ravens or Falcons, the Lions simply are not built that way and we don't want Linehan getting any more stupid ideas.
After Schwartz sits down the defense and has a little time to digest it with Mayhew, they can meet with the offensive coaches. I have a feeling they will want some answers to some very tough questions.
One of my first questions would be about how that was a great play Calvin scored on against the Bills when they got him free on a linebacker. But I want to know why they didn't run it until the last minute of the game. Couldn't they run that in the first half when it might have opened things up a little?
What I am making clear to the offensive coaching staff is this is just not getting the job done. The Lions have invested heavily on the offensive side of the ball, and I know Stafford has been out, but Hill is playing well.
It seems like the only reason we ever score is because of superior talent.
It's not that the Lions can't run the ball or Calvin is double covered all the time. It's if we can't run the ball, why haven't we improved and why are we always so quick to accept our fate with Calvin?
This offense needs to attack from the moment they get on the field, not slop around and hope one of the stud players makes a big play. Offense is about imposing your will over the other team, and too often it looks like the Lions will roll over and play dead.
Now this isn't a tragedy happening here. The coaches can still get this on track and they have the time to do it yet this year. But don't let them overlook the fact that Martin Mayhew is sitting in that room with them because, in the words of Jerry Jones, "people will suffer" if it doesn't get fixed.
Last week, I mentioned that Jim Schwartz had the same 4-20 record as Jimmy Johnson and was only a game behind Bill Walsh after 24 games. What I didn't mention was both Jimmy and Bill lost their 25th game. Actually they both lost the 26th game too. Walsh didn't get another win until his 28th game and was seriously considering retiring from coaching—so history is still on Schwartz' side.
But it sure is tough to watch.