Where did the magic go? Or, maybe that’s the key word in this entire post: magic. I am talking about the Detroit Lions a 10-6 record and wildcard slot in the 2011 season. Was that season a fluke?
Before I rant any further, I must say, the Lions’ defense played a superb game against the Chicago Bears, Monday night. Their ability to hold the Bears to 10 points and cut stupid penalties is proof of their growing maturity and discipline. Ndamukong Suh, Alphonso Smith, Kyle Vanden Bosch and the entire defensive line never gave up.
A pattern is developing this season. It is an old one; and it troubles me. The Lions squander opportunities for touchdowns; and then at best — if they don’t turnover the ball — settle for field goals. No one is ever going to call me a football expect. And, I suppose I have is easy in all of this. All I do is sit on a couch or bar stool with my heart in my hands; watching the Lions revert to the team I knew before.
Call me lazy. Doesn’t it seem like someone is making poor play decisions? Yes, Matthew Stafford has thrown too many interceptions. But, there are just too many situations where Stafford makes play decisions that go against what we saw from him during the 2011 season. He is a talented quarterback with the willingness to put it all out there to win. Last night, Stafford made several runs to gain yardage or to pick up first downs. In 2011, he won games running the ball in for a touchdown.
So, I have to give the offensive coaching staff the “eye” and ask some pointed questions.
Question 1: Why are you waiting to turn on offensive might until there are mere seconds to play in the game? The clock doesn’t lie. A team only has four quarters of time to convert into touchdowns. Bad plays and mistakes whittle that precious time away. Championship-worthy teams know this. They do not wait to make touchdowns. They seize each opportunity, play aggressively and intelligently, put the ball in the end zone, and watch the points add up on the scoreboard.
Question 2: Why pass to score a touchdown when you’re on the goal line and you have Mikel Leshoure? Here’s more context to frame my question. The Lions and Philadelphia Eagles are mere seconds from game end on October 14. The Eagles are up. But, only by six. The Lions have a chance — a good chance — at scoring a touchdown to win the game. Stafford has his team on the goal line. It’s first down. That’s three attempts to get the ball over the chalk line. The Eagles are swarming Johnson and Pettigrew. But, that’s okay. Passing is unnecessary. Just give the ball to Leshoure, get the six, and have Hansen kick the extra point for the win. But, no. For some reason, Stafford wastes all three tries at a touchdown with failed pass attempts, which almost result in turnovers. The Lions settle for a field goal to tie; and then a field-goal for the win in overtime.
Question 3: Do you really think field goals will get Ws? Don’t get me wrong. Jason Hanson is amazing. The guy rarely misses. But, he can’t make up for missed touchdowns. Besides, Hanson is 42. What are the Lions going to do when he retires? Unless, the Lions figure out that touchdowns make Ws; we — the fans — are going to be posting Ls for another decade.
The Lions need to fix their offensive coaching decisions; and fast. I am hopeful — and overly optimistic — that the Lions’ 2012 season will mimic the New York Giants’ 2011 season. Remember how the Giants played so awful in the first half? But, then they regrouped, upset season contenders and won it all.