By: Eric Thomas
Sunday’s Lions game against the Vikings was bad, but it also seemed familiar. Please don’t misread that, I am not saying “same old Lions.” It’s different team with young talent, and they will be good under this coach in the future. The trouble for these Lions is that they have the same fan base. I know I’ve seen this movie before.
My problem with the Lions’ embarrassing 20-13 loss was not that lie of a score; my problem was that they didn’t even seem competitive. The futility of having a team that doesn’t belong on the field is a pit in your stomach that most fans here still know. They got a chance to revisit that on Sunday. I missed the first score, because I looked down at my phone to make a note about something. They spent the rest of the afternoon behind.
I take Jim Schwartz at his word, the team played hard. But it’s hard to not notice that there is a lot of first round talent on the field. Nick Fairley had a tackle but continues to line up in the neutral zone, and doesn’t add nearly as much as fans hoped when he was picked in the first round. Brandon Pettigrew, in the offseason, apparently forgot how to play football. Schwartz took time in his postgame presser to commend the fans for staying loud and not leaving the game. I agree. Maybe many of them were sadists.
It makes no sense that the team is this talent starved. There is simply no excuse for it. The Lions gave up two kick returns for touchdowns in two consecutive weeks, the first time that has been done since WW2. Funny how the Lions never set the good records, isn’t it?
What needs to be buried is the concept of drafting the best player available. It makes a lot of sense when you draft in the top 5 but not if you are any lower. The failure of the “draft the best player” strategy was on full display for all to see at Ford Field on Sunday. If you add in a place that you don’t need help, it makes your weaknesses all the more glaring. You gain nothing when Ryan Broyles rides the bench and Riley Reiff comes in as an extra lineman. Bill Bentley is starting. Wouldn’t it make sense to draft a starter higher? Wouldn’t the fact that you have to start a rookie mean that you have a glaring need at that position?
The Lions are so bad defensively its almost ironic comedy. The defense denied a the Vikings touchdowns for much of the afternoon, but no one watching the game walked away feeling good about the defense. The Vikings marched down the field with ease, seemingly always stalling in the red zone. The only thing that prevented a total blowout was Christian Ponder’s accuracy. None of his ten incompletions had anything to do with the defense.
Can the Lions turn it around? Sure they can, but it doesn’t seem likely. Jim Schwartz was asked if a special teams coaching change is necessary, a suggestion he shrugged off like it was ridiculous. He’s right, the problems with team aren’t scheme they are talent and that problem is baked in the cake. There is no solving this problem. Their glaring weaknesses only got worse in the offseason. Maybe we should have asked if they still had Aaron Berry’s phone number. Oh wait; he signed a two year deal with the Jets.
Before anyone suggests it, it would be a mistake to call for Martin Mayhew’s head. He needs to adjust. The same philosophies that brought the team back from historical ineptitude aren’t going to work when trying to make the next step. I am fine with him learning this on the job, because he has earned the right to make mistakes.