Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Lions are 4-2. Are they that good, or the NFC that bad? Final thoughts on Lions - Bucs

First off, here's the pertinent links to the live blogging...

No bye week hangover for the Lions: 1st quarter Lions - Bucs thoughts

The Lions continue to bend, but not break: 2nd quarter Lions - Bucs thoughts

We saw Chucky make a face! 3rd quarter Lions - Bucs thoughts

Calvin Johnson earns his keep: 4th quarter Lions - Bucs thoughts

1. Before the season started, if you'd had told me the Lions would be 4-2...Well, I would have laughed, and then looked askance at you. I sure as Hell wouldn't have believed you. Yet here we are, 7 weeks into the 2007 NFL season, the Lions haven't been eliminated from playoff contention, and are solidly ensconced in 2nd place in the NFC Central. So it begs the question, are the Lions legit, or is the NFC so awful that the Lions are scraping by, beating bad teams?

I'd venture a guess that it's a combination of the two. The Lions may be better than we thought, and the NFL, specifically the NFC, blows. Put those together, and you end up with a 4-2 Detroit Lions team contending for a playoff spot in the JV league. (Otherwise known as the NFC)

I think we can safely say that the Lions are no longer awful. They have taken a step up from bad, and are now playing at the a level where the great majority of NFL teams reside. The Lions have reached mediocrity!

In today's parity riddled NFL, you don't have to necessarily out play your opposition. You just need to make fewer mistakes than the team on the other side of the line. Do that, and you have a very good chance of winning more than you lose.

That's what the Lions have done in their 4 wins. Keep mistakes, penalties, and most importantly, turnovers, to a minimum, and convert when the opposition turns the ball over. Today's win over Tampa was that exact recipe. Detroit had fewer penalties than Tampa, and didn't turn the ball over. While Tampa had a fumble and a blocked punt, both of which Detroit turned into points. Win the turnover battle, odds are you'll win the game.

2. Detroit found their long AWOL running game, and a near 50/50 yardage balance. They had only had 131 yards passing, but more importantly, 147 yards on the ground. The combination of Kevin Jones and (Back from injury exile) TJ Dukett gave Detroit their best all around game from the running back position this season. The running game picked up the slack from an off passing attack, rather than vice versa. Shocking, I know... First time in the Mike Martz era I remember that happening.

If the Lions don't need Jon Kitna to throw for 300 yards a game to win, they'll be that much better off in the long run. Unfortunately, that may kill the chances of more than a few fantasy teams...

3. Another interesting development is that former starting tailback Tatum Bell, who requested a trade, then claimed it wasn't true, saying the media "Blew it up" never sniffed the field. As long as Jones and Duckett remain healthy, Bell appears to be the odd man out. He won't be doing much more as a Lion than collecting a check for services not rendered.

4. The defensive line had a great game today. If there not been a mobile QB in Jeff Garcia under center, the Lions would have had at least double the 3 sacks they did put up. Moonball was on the run all afternoon, and had next to no time to set up, and look downfield. The Lions pass rush may have had more to do with the Bucs dink and dump passing game than their own play calling.

As good as the D-line played, let not talk about the back 7, excluding Ernie Sims (He was all over the field), who would have trouble covering my lame ass, let alone NFL quality talent.

5. Next week the Lions travel to Chicago, to take on the resurgent 3-4 Bears. Detroit seems to have figured out how to win at home, where they are 3-0. Now comes the next step, learning to win on the road, where they are 1-2, with the 2 losses being of the "Lets never speak of this game again" variety. At the very least, the Lions cannot lose by 35 points, with the game being over at the half.

You have to learn to walk before you can run. The Lions are still learning to walk, hoping to jog. Next Sunday at Soldier Field is as good a place as any to start jogging.

1 comment:

  1. I had this game so written off as a loss that I spent the afternoon raking leaves with my iPod, figuring I'd see the lowlights later in the evening. So to say I was pleasantly surprised at the final score is a bit of an understatement.

    It almost pains me to type this, but the Lions' performance today - with stellar d-line play and a solid running game - made it look as if Sgt. Marinelli's plans for this team could actually have a chance of coming together.

    But as you said, how the Lions follow this up will be telling. If they go on the road and look totally inept again, the same familiar doubts will creep up again.