Monday, September 15, 2014

How to fix the Detroit Lions

First off let me give a very little bit of credit to Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew who took on a job no one else in the NFL ever has. They took over a team that went 0-16, and got them back to being a team that could go 8-8 and contend for the final spot in the playoffs. With that being said, it simply is not good enough for the long suffering fans of the Detroit Lions. I get that 1-1 is hardly the time to start panicking and no one should over react to a loss on the road to a tough, playoff caliber team. However, the team's problems go much deeper than a 24-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Much like Jim Schwartz was not the man to get the most out of the roster or to lead a team to a Super Bowl, Martin Mayhew is not the man to assemble a roster able to contend for a Super Bowl title. Let us not forget he was Matt Millen's assistant and the Lions hired him, after promising the fans a nationwide search. Look over his draft record, it might not be as band as his predecessor but it is bad enough to cost him his job.

Sure, I am not a NFL personnel expert, but I do know this if you fail to address your team's undeniable weakness the game will expose that weakness 100 percent of the time. It is a lesson Mayhew and the Lions should have learned a few seasons ago, but the failure to adequately address the defensive secondary this past off season is being exposed first by the Giants (to a small extent) and yesterday by the Panthers, and by the defense hating gods that have dropped so many of the men picked to be a part of it. However it is the lack of depth that is truly being exposed and who would not, right now, trade TE Eric Ebron for a shut down corner? Let us also mention the return of the Lions not being able to tackle, just one of the constant issues with this team over the last few seasons.

Sure, a big chunk of the story is the Lions had too many turnovers and missed two field goals, but this is a team that has bigger problems. Mainly the decision making of its franchise QB. In the first half the offense moved he ball fairly well (even though it failed to score) Matthew Stafford was distributing the ball to many different receivers. After they scored their only TD and the game was on the line he repeatedly tried to force the ball to Calvin Johnson. It is poor decision making and in year five of his career (not counting the year he was injured) we know what Stafford is and it does not look like any amount of coaching is ever going to change that.

Martin Mayhew is the man that made the call to draft Stafford and that looks like it wasn't the best choice. He is also responsible in full for the composition of this roster and it simply is not good enough. However he is not the first person that should be fired. That should be Tom Lewand, the bean counter who was hired after the win less season to be the team President. IN his time here he has a DUI conviction, and has made such a mess of the Ndamukong Suh contract situation that he has priced his team out of the ability to afford him or moved him for pieces to rebuild the team.

I'm not even going to mention the walking wounded at best condition of the secondary two weeks into this season. There is no depth and once again the Lions missed the boat on a chance in the lat draft to add depth at a position that needed that plus talent. They completely bungled the Chris Houston situation and that is something you just cannot get away with in the NFL.

He was also at least in part, responsible for hiring Jim Schwartz which was the wrong choice. He was also part of the decision to hire Mayhew and that looks very much like a huge mistake. The antiquated owner of this team has passed and now it is time for the Lions to rebuild from the top down. Lewand should be fired immediately the Lions should find another man, maybe who knows something about winning football, to lead the team. They should then fire Mayhew and possible even the coaching staff but we can give them a little more leeway since this is the first season of Lions misery.

Then and only then will this team be in a position to rebuild itself into a perennial playoff contender. The problems with this team are the decision making process and that never seems to change. While I like Jim Caldwell and the way he seems to be able to motivate his team, especially at half time, I do not trust in the med that hired him because they have proven over and over again that they do not know how to make sound football decisions.

To put an exclamation point on that Nate Freese won a competition to be the kicker on this team. 49 yards in the NFL is not that long of a kick and its not like he missed those attempts by inches. He is just another example of poor decision made by the powers that be within the team. Nate Freese is not ready for prime time, and that is yet another roster move that must be reevaluated this week.

These men built an offense that is loaded with talent, yet were able to score one a fullback no less. While I like a loaded offense I like a complete roster better, and I know it is a complete roster that wins playoff games. Lewand and Mayhew have shown they are unable to build that. The Lions cannot afford to be patient anymore, look at the reaction across social media to their first loss of the season (and remember none of us expected them to actually win this game).  The fans of this team, who support it week in and week out, are tired of the Football for Dummies approach this front office seems to revel in.