It’s was a big week for the Detroit Lions this Sunday as they traveled to Philadelphia to go up against the streaking Philadelphia Eagles. While the Lions didn’t anticipate playing in an early “Snow Bowl” with a reported 4-6 inches of snow on the field, the Lions in typical “Lions fashion” lose to the Eagles with a final score of 34-20.
Now let me start by saying that this loss goes to the entire team, no blame should go on one person or group. Everyone from the offense, to the defense to the coaching staff are to blame for this loss. The only person I don’t blame in this game is kick/punt returner Jeremy Ross and don’t worry you will learn why I don’t blame him later in the article but for now I will talk about who is to blame for this loss.
I will start with the defense. When it comes to the good part of the defense, you have to remember that the Lions did a good job of containing the Eagles offense for three-quarters. They constantly gave the Lions offense multiple opportunities to increase their lead, the Lions offense just didn’t capitalize on those opportunities.
My problem with the defense came in the fourth quarter, they completely fell apart in the fourth quarter. I said in my pre-game article that the Lions defense wouldn’t be able to hold the Eagles for four quarters and I was right. However, I had a problem in the way that they collapsed defensively. At the end of the third quarter, LeSean McCoy only had 68 rushing yards, he finished the game with 217 rushing yards and two touchdowns, which means the Lions allowed him to rush for 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind he didn’t have to work for those touchdowns, the Lions defensive line was easily dominated by the Eagles offensive line, so McCoy had plenty of holes to choose from. Then to make maters worse, the tackling was horrible, I understand that the weather conditions affected the defense but if you go back in this game, there were plenty of times that the Lions had a chance to make a play on McCoy, Brown or Polk and they simply couldn’t make the tackle.
Then don’t get me started on the secondary, while quarterback Nick Foles did commit his first interception of the season in this game, no one can deny that corner-backs Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis were torn apart constantly in this game. They allowed wide receiver Riley Cooper to look like a pro-bowler and DeSean Jackson caught a wide open touchdown.
Now again, I will say I don’t blame this loss on one person or group, this was a team loss from the offense to the defense. While I feel that the Lions defense was horrible in the 4th quarter, I still have to credit them for containing the Eagles offense for the first three-quarters. They gave the Lions offense multiple opportunities to win this game and capitalize on their lead and the Lions offense didn’t do it.
Which leads me to the Lions offense, who I give 60% of the blame to in this game. I have said all season long that the Lions put themselves in unnecessary situations every week, sometimes they lose and sometimes they win. When the Lions win, it’s not a big deal of by fans, when they lose, everyone likes to point out the flaws. I point out the flaws every week, win or lose, starting with the turnovers.
The Lions turned the ball over THREE times in this game and they were all fumbles. Now again, I understand that the weather conditions were horrible with the snow but that’s no excuse to turn the ball over THREE times. Honestly, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it if this was the first time the Lions had issues with turnovers but unfortunately the Lions have turned over the ball for 16 times in the last five games. That’s completely unacceptable. The first two fumbles took place by Joique Bell but the worse turnover came in the fourth quarter when center Domnic Raiola and Matthew Stafford had a communication error on the snap. The problem I have with that turnover is the fact that it could have been avoided, I felt Stafford had a chance to jump on top of the ball and save the turnover but instead he tried to pick it up and make a play which allowed the Eagles to recover it. If your Stafford you have to understand the situation and the weather conditions, he should have just jump on the ball and covered it. Yes the Lions would have had horrible field position but at least they would still have the ball and opportunity to make up for it.
The bottom line is that Lions continue to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers. I say it every week, the Lions can’t continue to turn the ball over multiple times and think they can get away with wins like they did against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season. I understand mistakes will happen but right now, the Lions are averaging around 2 turnovers a game.
The turnovers aren’t the only problem, I say again the Lions put themselves in horrible unnecessary situations every game, one of the problems are the turnovers but the other problem is their in ability to score despite having a good offense. Every week the Lions struggle to score. The Lions score 20 points in this game, but they only scored ONE offensive touchdown. The other points came from kick and punt returner Jeremy Ross who returned both a kick return and punt return for touchdowns. If Ross doesn’t score off those to kick and punt returns, the Lions would only have eight points to show for in this game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had five fumble snaps, only had 148 yards passing and zero touchdowns. Then to make matters worse there were a lot of dropped passes by receivers, varying from Dorin Dickerson, Nate Burleson, Joique Bell and Brandon Pettigrew. All of it is unacceptable and it all led to the Lions being unable to sustain lengthy scoring drive all game long.
The run game wasn’t great either, it obviously hurt not having running back Reggie Bush on the field but that’s still no excuse. Bell did a good job of establishing the run game in the first half but unfortunately in the second half, Bell stopped finding holes to run through which also hurt the Lions ability to score.
Lions also did a horrible job with the penalties today, seeing that they had 9 penalties in this game. Now some penalties I felt were bad calls by the referees, for example the so-called holding call against Ndamukong Suh and the roughing the passer call on Nick Fairley. However, the other calls against the lions such as off-sides and neutral zone infraction are just unacceptable.
I also have to blame the coaching staff of the Lions as well. Lions played solid football in the first half, then they came into the second half like they hadn’t play the game before. I don’t know what halftime adjustments were made but whatever adjustments they made backfired. The only area I can’t complain about is special teams and I have to say I am loving the consistent play by Jeremy Ross. I say again, he was the reason Lions were even able to score seeing that he returned both a punt and kick return for scores. He also did a great job last week against the Packers.
At the end of the day, it was a bad loss. For those who want to blame the weather conditions, that’s your right but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the weather was ridiculous and some may even say that they should have postponed the game but the point is the Lions had a chance to win this game multiple times and they didn’t execute on those opportunities. I’m sure you know the saying “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” well that’s how I feel about bad weather and football. Basically meaning, that if the game doesn’t get postponed because of weather then you need to be prepared to step up or step off, from what I saw the Lions stepped off which is why they lost to the Eagles.
Moving forward, the Lions once again put themselves in unnecessary situation because with this loss, the Lions are now in jeopardy of being tied with the Chicago Bears again if the Bears win tomorrow against the Dallas Cowboys. Now the good news is, even if the Lions and Bears end up tied again, the Lions still win the division because they swept the Bears during the season. However, this goes back to the Lions putting themselves in unnecessary situations. I say it every week, the Lions should be 12-1 right now with complete control of the NFC North and fighting for home field in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them they aren’t doing that, mainly because they put themselves in unnecessary situations in games against Arizona, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia which is they loss and have themselves a current record of 7-6. Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying, I am not looking for the Lions to be perfect, I am just looking for them to live up to their potential which is just about limitless.
Nonetheless, the Lions are still in a position to go to the playoffs and while this was a tough loss, there is no time pity yourselves if you’re the Lions because you still have to finish the season strong. So I encourage the Lions to head home, eat some soup, drink some hot tea, make some much-needed adjustments and get ready for their next game against the Baltimore Ravens because you can bet they will come ready to play. By the way, I am still waiting to receive a phone call from the Detroit Lions organization offering me a job on their staff.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com