Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts on Lions-Packers

The final score was Packers 28, Lions 26.

The Lions are now one of only four winless teams, and can kiss their delusional playoff dreams goodbye. The streak of road losses (24 in a row) and Lambeau losses (19 straight) both continue. And worst of all, the Lions ability to lose games creatively continues.

The spread in this game was Packers by 14.5, and I along with 60% of Las Vegas picked the Packers. Amazingly, the Lions had several chances to win this game. In fact you could argue the Lions should have won this game. But alas, these are the Lions. Creative losing is their forte.

Here's what went down:


-The main story of the game was Time of Possession. Detroit held the ball for 37 minutes and ran 78 plays of offense, compared to 22 minutes and 40 plays for Green Bay. That's the way to beat a great quarterback - keep him on the sideline.

-How were the Lions able to do that? By sustaining drives. Shaun Hill was excellent on third downs; the Lions converted 10 of 17. Five of those were completions to Pettigrew; another one was a long TD to Calvin; and two other times Hill ran for the first down himself.

-Shaun Hill played a great all-around game. 34 completions on 54 attempts - that's 63%. Hill's career completion percentage is 61%. No Lions quarterback from the past decade has a career completion percentage of higher than 58%. (The lowest? Stafford's 54%, just a notch lower than Harrington's 56%.) Lions fans are not accustomed to the efficiency and accuracy of a quarterback like Shaun Hill. He just completes a higher percentage of his passes, plain and simple, and that makes a world of difference. It keeps drives going.

-In fact, here's the stat of the day - Nick Harris only punted twice in this game.

-Hill threw for 331 yards (his 2nd 300 yard game of the year - Stafford had only 1 such game in 10 starts last season) and 2 TDs, both to Megatron. Hill also ran 4 times for 53 yards and threw 2 interceptions; one of them was a bad throw, the other one was not his fault as Jahvid Best fell down. Overall, Hill finished Sunday with more fantasy points that every NFL quarterback except David Garrard.

-Best was responsible for two costly turnovers. One on the interception which killed a Lions drive in the red zone, and another on a stupid fumble which gave the Packers a 12 yard field and an easy score. Best ran for 50 yards on 12 carries, and caught 5 balls for 34 yards. He showed great speed once again, but the offensive line played its worst game of the season in terms of run-blocking.

-Back to Shaun Hill for a moment. He completed 8 passes to Pettigrew (5 for 1st downs) and 6 apiece to Calvin and Scheffler. Each of those 3 had at least 10 passes thrown their way. Finally, a quarterback who understands balance! Hill threw at least 5 passes that were completed for more than 20 yards. Has any Lions quarterback ever done that?

-Kevin Smith made his triumphnat return to the backfield, and looked as worthless as ever. 7 touches for about 30 yards. He had no speed, no power, no nothing. He almost fumbled a handoff and he dropped two screen passes. He should be cut. Waste of a roster spot. Ugh.

-Calvin played his best game of the season. He owned Charles Woodson and navigated double-coverage quite well. It helped that the ball was actually being thrown in his direction.

-Overall, this was the best performance by a Lions offense in several seasons. Converting third-downs, extending drives, and keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. Gained 431 total yards and achieved 24 first downs. You could easily argue that if not for 13 penalties, the Lions would have won this game.


-In the first half, Aaron Rodgers was deadly. His first pass was a 29 yard touchdown. He was 8 for 9 for 131 yards and 3 TDs at halftime.

-In the second half, Rodgers was ineffective, but because of a pick-six and a fumbled kick return, he only attempted 5 passes in the third quarter (2 for 5 with an INT) and 3 passes in the fourth quarter (2 for 3 with another INT). We held Aaron Rodgers to 12 completions - you can be sure that will be his season low.

-Detroit actually had a great chance to win this game with about 6 minutes to go. Schwartz chose to punt the ball from the Packers 37 yard line on 4th and 9 (what he should have done was run the ball on 3rd and 9 to set up a managable 4th and short) and by trusting the defense, Schwartz doomed the Lions. But maybe it wasn't a terrible decision. To keep the ball Green Bay was going to have to run for first downs. They hadn't done that all game (just 40 rushing yards prior to the final drive). But when it mattered, Detroit couldn't tackle, and fullback John Kuhn rumbled 7 times on the last drive for 34 yards and 3 first downs and time expired.

-Detroit's defense was once again opportunistic. We intercepted two passes and caused two fumbles, both on kickoffs. Detroit recorded two sacks (Suh and Delmas) and created a decent amount of pressure on Rodgers. Suh now has 3 sacks, more than any other DT in the league and more than any other rookie in the league. Can you say Defensive Rookie of the Year?

-The question I have after this game is this: Does Green Bay's running game really suck, or was Ndamukong Suh just really dominant? It was either one or the other. Brandon Jackson just couldn't go anywhere. Was Suh clogging the holes, or was Jackson too slow to get past the first level of defenders? I'm not sure. We'll have to see a few more games to determine if this is a trend.

-Overall, I knew Detroit was going to lose this game, but couldn't believe how close they made it. Before the game, my brother asked me what Detroit's chances of winning were. I answered: zero percent. And realistically, we never led, and never really threatened to lead. But we sure made it interesting. And that's exactly what the Lions are. Interesting losers.


-Shaun Hill is inarguably better than Matt Stafford.

-Our offensive line isn't bad, it's just inconsistent.

-The Lions' biggest weakness isn't the secondary; it's the linebackers.

-Jim Schwartz is now 2-18 as a head coach. Worst 20 game start in Lions' history.

Stay tuned for Week 4 Wrap Up.


  1. I'm so frustrated, because it seems like the Lions are on the cusp... I watched St Louis last night, and they seemed to know how to work with what they had. The lions are so close right now... They've lost (not counting the MN game) but an average of 3 points a game.

    And here's the rub - if the ref's rule Calvin Johnson with a touchdown in week 1, I think they have the confidence to beat the Eagles and the Packers this week...

    I can't decide if that one ruling changed the Lions future more than the Colts sitting out last year changed the Jets future.

  2. hmm, good thoughts. it is very frustrating.

    i think the colts sitting out was bigger, because it led to the Jets making the playoffs which led to them actually believing they deserved it which led to them being the cockiest team in the history of the nfl and somehow that cockiness is translated into wins.

    the calvin call probably changes us from a 6-10 team to a 3-13 team. not a huge deal. but it will make us draft in the top 5 again, which means another huge salary in the books. but ultimately, the lions future was sealed the day we drafted matt stafford and guaranteed another decade of losing.

    if we dont beat the Rams sunday, it will be the most devestating loss of my football fan life.

  3. i'd like to see your thoughts on the news that Mike Illitch will be buying the pistons: