I am a Lions fan. I was born in Detroit and have followed this team since the 1970s. In all that time, losses have been in abundance and playoff wins have been rare (actually, just one and none in 25 years). So one needs to keep that in mind in considering my “analysis”.
Last night’s collapse against the Green Bay Packers highlights a problem with the NFL draft. Because the Lions have been bad for most of this century, this team has accumulated some very high draft picks. The list includes Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron, and Zeke Ansah. All were taken in the first round. All have made contributions to what little success the Lions have had in 2015.
But in the last two minutes against the Packers, all were poorly utilized by the Lions coaches. With about two minutes left, the Lions had a first down. All they needed was one more first down and the game would be won. The Lions, though, decided to give the ball to Joique Bell three consecutive times. Rather than utilize Stafford, Johnson, or Ebron to finish the game, the Lions utilized an undrafted running back who had no chance of getting a first down. Hence the Lions had to punt.
Initially that didn’t seem like an awful choice. But after a Devin Taylor penalty, the Packers had one last play. And this play was a Hail Mary. Almost everything about the Lions strategy on this play was bad.
First, their best pass rusher – Ansah — was placed at midfield in case the Packers tried to lateral their way down field. So the Lions — all by themselves — took Ansah out of the play. And it worked. Packers did not lateral on this play.
What the Aaron Rodgers did do is heave the ball 60+ yards to the end zone. He could do this because the three-man rush chasing him were unable to keep him contained.
Now if the Packers are going to throw it to the end zone, and everyone knows that is where the ball is going, it is helpful to have someone there for the Lions who can catch the ball. So having Johnson and/or Ebron in the end zone would have been great. But they were on the sidelines watching the play. In their place were players too small to stop the Packers tight end from boxing them out and catching the ball.
In sum, the Lions were given talent by the NFL’s draft. But the draft couldn’t give them coaches who knew to put the damn talent on the actual field to win the game.
So really, if the NFL wants the losers in the league to get better it needs a different kind of draft. We need a reverse-order draft for decision-makers. Until that happens, the Lions are not going to get a coach that has a chance of being successful. Remember, Detroit is where coaches go to die. If you coach in Detroit, you are highly unlikely to ever work as a head coach again in the league. And that is because the Ford family has a habit of hiring coaches who are not very good.
And therefore, all the talent in the world is useless to Detroit. The Lions simply have no idea how to use whatever talent it employs.
P.S. And yes, this entirely a rant not well defended with objective information. If you wanted that.. well, we don’t always get want we want. Welcome to life as a Lions fan. :)