three cups deep: resignation

>> 12.07.2009

2009 September 13: Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola (51) reacts during a 45-27 win by the New Orleans Saints over the Detroit Lions at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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No, I don’t mean that I’m resigning.  I mean we’ve reached—honestly, passed—the point in the season where we have an thorough understanding of what this team is and what this team is capable of.  They can give any team on any day a pretty good ballgame.  Sometimes, they can pass like a really good passing team.  Sometimes, they can run like a good running team.  Sometimes, they can bottle up the run.  Sometimes, they can rush the passer.  Coverage?  . . . well, sometimes other teams’ quarterbacks throw bad passes.

Unfortunately, it never all happens in the same game.  That’s just not good enough to beat anybody but the dregs of the league, and it’s certainly not good enough to go on the road and take out the #2 team in the AFC.  The offensive line, finally, got some decent push in the middle of the line—and what do you know, Kevin Smith had 12 carries for 54 yards in the first half.  With Stafford and Megatron both mostly healthy, they proved they’re too talented to contain.  The run defense was pretty stout, too; Cedric Benson carried the ball 36 times, but gained only 110 yards (3.06 YpC).

However, Stafford was simply off his game.  Almost all of his 26 throws were high and behind; most of the eleven completions required heroic effort by his targets.  The lack of offensive consistency simply killed the Lions on Sunday.  They were doing all the right things, getting breaks, and playing well, but just couldn’t complete drives.

The whole game turned on one of those drives.  Just before the second half, the Lions stalled in Bengal territory.  Schwartz sent Jason Hanson out to try a 55-yarder, outside, in December, in Ohio . . . and he hit the crossbar.  The Bengals came back the other way in a heartbeat, and hit a 39-yarder of their own.  Instead of going into the half down by only four, the Lions were looking up from the bottom of a 10-point hole.  They put the game on Matthew Stafford's shoulders, and that proved to be their undoing.

Pass defense was as good it’s been all year, with Julian Peterson bringing heat, and Buchanon, James, Delmas, and Henry making plays in the secondary.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop Chad Ochocinco forever, and in the second half he blew the game “open”.  At that point, the Lions abandoned the run, and . . . well, you’ve heard this story before.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's simply not enough ability on this roster.  There is some: a few incredible young talents, a few cagey veterans who are defying their age, and an impressive amount of heart.  These guys can feel how close they are—you can tell they came out of the locker room thinking they had a real chance to win.  They didn’t stop fighting, all the way to the end, and that tells you something about these Lions; even if we’re resigned to the notion that they’ll go 2-14, they sure as hell aren’t.

3 comments:

Weston Corbitt December 7, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

First, I'll say I am glad that the Lions have far more fight in them than they did last year. Secondly, consistency comes with talent and practice. I'm sure once out of one hundred I could shake a defender and score on the goal line. When you get better players, their talent will show more and on a more consistent basis. I am still excited about this core of talent we are building, but realize we need more to win ballgames.

Pacer December 7, 2009 at 11:18 PM  

Hi Ty-an infamous Canadian Prime Minister (Pierre Elliot Trudeau) once said "the universe is unfolding as it should". I know that is hard on yourself and other Lions fans but I never thought the season offered anything more than 4-12-maybe at best. Nonetheless, there is reason to believe a core is being built and an identity established. There are now leaders on this team in important positions, namely Stafford. Assuming a reasonably healthy 09 for CJ and Brandon and a decent draft the Lions will be able to look at 6-8 wins next year.

Best of all I like the draft of 09 and am pleased that the 08 draft has shown that some players, while not all of them starters, can play. Assuming they resign Foote to at least 2 years (Peterson is still under contract), they have their defensive leaders.

Tough year for a fan like you-but keep being that fan as you and others like you are my window to the Lions world. 2010 looks like this-a maturing 08 and 09 draft class, a reasonable 2010 draft and some free agents can make them respectable. Oh yeah, 14 players on IR-probably won't happen again and hopefully the plethora of nagging injuries will be less also. They needed cohesion, luck and more talent for 2009 and they got none of those.

Keep the faith.

Anonymous,  December 8, 2009 at 12:18 AM  

I see an outside shot the last two weeks of the year (especially if the Lions can pass well against the 49ers and Cutler is off his game).

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