Monday, September 30, 2013

Detroit Lions (3-1) week four in review

Am I really writing about the 3-1 first place Detroit Lions? A Detroit Lions team that is 2-0 in their own division, and is suddenly willing to play well enough to start shedding that Same Ole Lions moniker. These are not the Same Ole Lions. This is a team that is finally getting out of his own way,  a team that is not self destructing and a team that went out and made a huge statement with a throttling of the Chicago Bears.

Forget the final score of 40-32. Forget that the Bears were leading the game as the Lions left at least 12 points on the field early in the first half. In the second quarter the Lions offense got itself into gear the Lions defense played strong and they were able to score 27 points and never had to look back.

Sure there are still little things to fix. There are certain things that are a little troubling but we did not see any major issues in this game, and to be fair the Lions have gotten better each and every week. For those of us who have been tough on Head Coach Jim Schwartz we need to realize and acknowledge that. However, this team was once 5-0 and limped into the playoffs in 2011 so things can change greatly from week to week.

This is now a football team that has won in Washington (finally), beaten the Bears (the Lions are 2-7 against them in the Schwartz era) and now one task remains. That task is going Lambeau Field and beating the Green Bay Packers in their home stadium,  something they have not done since Brett Favre became the starter and I was still in high school. That is the last regular season Same Ole Lions baggage to shed. Of course the real work begins after they do just that and that is of course winning a playoff game and for that to be a reality in 2014 they need to get a home playoff game. That might be putting the cart in front of the horse a bit, but rejoice Lions fans we are 3-1 and this team is still getting better.

The Good:

  • The Running Game- 159 yards on the ground on 30 carries and over 5 yards a carry on average. Take away the big 37 yard TD run by Reggie Bush and he was still over 100 yards rushing for the game. The running game opens everything up and teams will have to respect that. Given the talent of Calvin Johnson they'll have to pick their poison for the time being till some DC finds a way to stop both threats.
  • Discipline- 3 penalties for 25 yards. that is an unreal number for this team. I don't think Ndamukong Suh had any and he was very effective in disrupting the Bears offense. He seems happier this year, more in control more grounded. If that is the case he could wind up being one of the best players in the NFL. 
  • Brandon Pettigrew- 7 catches for 54 yards and tough catches, catches that extended drives, tough yards over the middle. He silenced a lot of his critics yesterday and the Lions offense gets better with a productive Pettigrew. 
The Bad:
  • Matthew Stafford- he was not exactly bad, but not sharp. Not a super star, not the guy we have seen over the last few seasons and maybe some of that is actually a positive. However, early in this game he overthrew a few receivers and a few drives stalled. They got it together and he did go 23 of 35 for 242 yards one score and one pick. Not a great day, but maybe not a bad one either
  • Turnovers- one pick and a couple of fumbles. One late in the game when they Lions were trying to close the game out. They need to learn how to close games out and hopefully we see that in the weeks to come. 
  • the kick return game- I still see Lions kick returners making errors and mental mistakes that cost this team field position. It really seems like this coaching staff places little value on the kick and punt return part of the game. We forget about that some when they win, but when they lose we constantly point it out. Yesterday was not a good day for Michael Sprulock. 
With all that being said yesterday was a big step. Before this team can be a legit contender it has to learn how to beat their division rivals at home. The Lions throttled the previously undefeated Bears and that was a big step for them. Many steps remain but we can enjoy this win, and enjoy the week as we build up towards the game in Green Bay.

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