Don't look now, but all of a sudden, the Detroit Lions are in big trouble early in 2012. After dropping two tough contests on the road, the Lions came home looking to generate some positive momentum against an NFC North opponent heading into their bye week. Instead of having a successful hunt and getting things back on the right track, Detroit laid the biggest possible egg against the Minnesota Vikings. There was little intensity, no passion and plenty of ugly performances across the board in a frustrating defeat.
The key word from Sunday' hunt? Humbled.
Special Teams Needs An Overhaul. For the second straight week, the Lions allowed both a punt return and kickoff return for a touchdown. That's a feat not often accomplished in the NFL, and it's now also a part of the resume of Danny Crossman. Yes, tackling was an issue, as the Lions appeared disinterested to stop the ball carrier, but something has to be said for scheme, correct? It's time for Jim Schwartz to address this problem before any more disasters occur. If Schwartz wanted to make a statement, he'd dismiss Crossman and let an underling take the reigns. Two straight weeks of pathetic special teams play has cost the Lions, and that doesn't reflect well on the coaching staff.
This Offense Looks Vastly Overrated. Matthew Stafford was running for his life. The running game was completely non-existent. the passing game, usually a surefire way for the Lions to stay in games, was stalled. There were far too many dropped passes and miscues, lending to the notion that focus was the major issue through today's game. When the Lions can't throw in addition to run, obviously, there's going to be major problems. If the receivers cannot catch and the line cannot protect Stafford, the Lions will be heading for a losing record. Their high octane offense bailed them out at times last year, and this year, it hasn't happened. They haven't even performed on a consistent basis, which is alarming three games in.
Joe Staley Might Have Been Right. He may have been right about the defensive line being overrated, that is. The Lions haven't gotten much pressure at all on the quarterback in recent weeks, and this week was no different. Only two total sacks and seven quarterback hits against Christian Ponder isn't good enough in a game that Detroit had to have. For a banged up secondary to survive, the defensive line has to excel. It's not happening consistently enough for the Lions, which is causing many of their major problems on defense.
Tackling 101 Should Be Held Monday Morning. All day today, the Lions had trouble with tackling. It was a problem up front on the defensive line against Adrian Peterson. It was a problem when receivers reached the second level, and it was also a problem in special teams. Watching a team struggle with fundamentals which was once considered a playoff favorite is puzzling. Something has to be said and then done about this problem, or the defense will continue to struggle terribly.
Lions? Today's effort was terrible from Detroit's perspective. There was only one touchdown, and the defense didn't play spectacular while special teams was abysmal. Though DeAndre Levy played a good, hard hitting game at linebacker, nobody else is going to be singled out this week, especially after three straight losses.
Lambs? Few players played well, but there was one obvious choice for biggest lamb. Bill Bentley was called for two separate pass interference penalties, both of which were identical. That's a rookie mistake, but Minnesota didn't hesitate picking on him when they needed to. Otherwise, the offensive line as a whole was terrible, as was the receiving core with plenty of drops and inconsistent play.
What About The Five Things? Coming into this game, we said it was important to watch Jeff Backus against Jared Allen. Allen had a sack, and Backus struggled along with his line mates, helping aid in the offensive issues. Christian Ponder didn't throw a touchdown, but he didn't make big mistakes like he did last season in Detroit and managed the game well. The Lions' defense didn't play terribly, but didn't force any game changing turnovers, which helped stall the comeback. The running game didn't produce anything positive, and injuries did play a tiny role, especially with the addition of Ricardo Silva at safety.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions head into their bye week a disappointing 1-3. The Philadelphia Eagles are next on the schedule October 14 at 1 p.m. on Fox.
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