Monday, November 14, 2011

Bears Afterthoughts

I've had plenty of time to digest yesterday's blowout loss to the Bears. In fact, I had a full four-hour drive home to mull over what went wrong, who's to blame and what it means for the rest of the season. I did not, however, come up with a way to cohesively write all my thoughts. So here they are in random order.

Block in the freakin' back. Most people saw Devin Hester get two long returns and directed their anger towards the punter and special teams coach for kicking to Hester. I have two problems with this: 1) it's incredibly hard to directionally kick. 2) Hester's touchdown return should never have happened. Not only was there a blatant block in back on the play, but that illegal block also sprung the touchdown. Let's play find the illegal block (it's not hard):
If you found the Bears player on the 35 yard line, congratulations! You are now eligible to be an NFL referee. Maybe you're not convinced, so here's a second view:

Pretty clear here, with the Bears player's arms fully extended in a pushing motion. This causes the Lions player's momentum to go much faster than he wanted, and allowed Hester to get to the outside:
The Lions player cannot slow himself enough to get more than a hand on Hester. The rest is easy for Hester.

The Offense. Well, there's the obvious: Turnovers. And the equally obvious: Matthew Stafford. But the problems run deeper than both. The Lions have score seven or less points in seven of 16 halves this season. This is no longer the offense not playing up to their potential. They're playing consistently inconsistent. Which, to me, means that they just aren't as good as we all believed they were. The turnovers are killer, but the Lions offense failed to rebound when given the opportunities. In their first four possessions of the second quarter, they totalled 13 plays (three three-and-outs) and 18 yards. This includes a drive that started in the red-zone. We've seen the offense stall this badly in the past and it won't be the last time we see it stall this season.

The Defense. Well, the defense didn't play bad, but they failed to make many plays to help the team win. They failed to hold the Bears to a field goal after the Lions' first fumble. They allowed a 3rd and 13 conversion that led the Bears to another field goal and an early 13-0 lead. They did recover a fumble, but that was pretty much handed to them. Everything that happened in the second half was pretty much meaningless as the Bears had pretty much packed it in. They defense played well enough to give the Lions a chance to win if the Lions offense was clicking, but didn't offer the game-changing plays like they did against Dallas.

The Wind. I don't buy it.

The Future. Well, if the playoffs started today, the Lions would still be in the playoffs. The race for the wild-card is basically a four team race: Lions (6-3), Bears (6-3), Cowboys (5-4) and Falcons (5-4). The Lions hold the tie-breaker against the Cowboys, the Falcons have it over the Lions, and the tie-breaker between the Bears and Lions is yet to be determined. The biggest hurdle for the Lions the rest of the way is the schedule. Take a look:

Record of Remaining Opponents
Lions: 36-26
Bears: 30-31
Falcons: 30-34
Cowboys: 27-36

The Lions are the only team in the hunt who has to play opponent's with an overall winning record. In order to clinch a playoff spot, the Lions are going to have to do something that they haven't really done all season: beat good teams.

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