Found December 12, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
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Every week during the season, we’re debating the biggest talking point from the week before about the Detroit Lions. Lions Toss-up, Week 14: The Lions were gashed by LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense last Sunday in the snow to the tune of 478 yards and four scores, with 299 of those yards coming on the ground. Was that performance to be written off as case of treacherous conditions playing a factor, or should fans be worried the defense is starting to give up and fall apart late in an important season? Max DeMara: Given some of the issues looked to be made out of laziness when the game was getting out of hand, I tend to believe there are more issues here than merely the weather, and I’m not giving the team the same free pass Skip Bayless did. Why else would DeAndre Levy refer to the defense as soft after the game? Big plays are big plays. Even in wins the team has been dogged by a shaky secondary which constantly allows chunks of yardage. When those things happen, it’s harder to ask the guys up front to consistently play at a high level mentally and physically, and conversely, when the defensive line is giving up big plays on the ground, it’s harder for the secondary to stay engaged. In total, it’s hard for a defense to stay above water when an offense is constantly turning the ball over. It’s a vicious cycle which looks to be currently teetering on the brink of falling apart again, much like it did late in the 2012 season. Nobody’s pretending like the Lions don’t have talent. They certainly do, and the defense has been much better than it was last year in several key areas (think run defense) helping Detroit win several games they would have ordinarily lost. Despite that, there’s often a mental block with the defense which is re-ignited in games after a few big plays. The Lions will have to respond with a dominating effort against the Baltimore Ravens to prove the Philadelphia game wasn’t yet another tipping point. Andrew Tomlinson: To think the team is “giving up” is a little preposterous. Did the team potentially quit when down 14 points with little time to go in terrible conditions?Possibly, but I don’t think they just decided to stop playing in the fourth quarter. LeSean McCoy is by far the most elusive running back in the NFL and it showed on Sunday, he was able to cut and the Lions weren’t. This is probably a non-answer, but I think it is a little bit of both factors in why McCoy was able to be so successful. It is incredibly hard to run backwards, swivel and cut to a guy running down hill at full-speed while in two-to-four inches of snow, but it sure did look like the Lions let up a bit after the Eagles started to run away with it. Sunday’s weather was a worst-case scenario for the Lions and I do expect the defense to rebound against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night. Chris Burke: I don’t know that they should be worried about the Lions giving up so much as they should about the team’s warts continuing to be exposed. The defensive front really kept that unit afloat for the first 12 games, but with the secondary struggling as much as it has, the Lions may be asking too much of its line. The remaining three matchup will test them, even if a struggling Ray Rice is up first. The Giants have found some success with Andre Brown, and we all know what Adrian Peterson might bring to the table in Week 17. I think we can chalk some of the Week 14 collapse up to the weather conditions — LeSean McCoy clearly had more success planting and running in the snow than did Detroit’s defenders. But if Ray Rice has the same luck, hit the panic button. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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