The Lions traveled to Oakland in their last season at the Colosseum. The plan was to use an Air-Raid offense (like Arizona’s) to sink the Raiders’ ship in the Black Hole for one last time. Instead, Jon Gruden utilized Derek Carr to do exactly what Matthew Stafford was supposed to do- raid the secondary and win the game.
Before we get too far, Stafford threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. The blame is NOT on him. Any time you throw for over 400 yards in a game, the result should be a victory. This game didn’t turn out that way. Let’s look at the three takeaways from the final time the Lions play in The Black Hole-
1. The Offense Showed Up
As said earlier, Stafford threw for 406 yards, three scores, and a pick. He was only sacked twice. Of course, one of those sacks came at the end of the game on 2nd and goal, but, there have been many games where Stafford went down more than twice. The line protected Stafford, but only allowed 90 yards rushing. Josh Jacobs ran for 120 yards on his own. Yikes.
Despite the run game problems, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones combined for 258 yards receiving. If you had either receiver and/or Stafford (Or, in my case, all three!), you had to be in the money on Draft Kings and FanDuel. It was a good day in fantasy football.
With all that being said, there was a problem. 24 points weren’t enough to win, and in today’s league, 28 is the typical number that’s good enough. Criticize Darrell Bevell all you want, criticize Logan Thomas all you want, criticize the offensive line all you want. The real problem lies in the next two points-
2. The Defense was Nowhere to be Found
The Lions defense allowed 470 total yards and 31 points to a Raider team that averaged 22 points a game coming in. If we take that average with how many points Detroit scored Sunday, the Lions should have walked away with a 24-22 victory.
While the fourth and goal play from the one-yard line is not officially a point, it must be addressed. Be critical at every single man on the field all you want, but if the defense allows the average score of the team, the play doesn’t happen. Your problem lies on the defense, not on a botched play.
Nine points more than average means that the Lions allowed two more scores than normal. Consequently, the defense allowed two scores in the 4th quarter, with touchdown passes from Carr to Foster Moreau and Hunter Renfrow. The secondary is a problem too(It was even with Quandre Diggs). The trenches are also becoming a problem. This problem lies with a coach, and it’s not Matt Patricia… Yet.
3. It’s Time to Question Paul Pasqualoni
The defense has allowed 27 points per game, with the only impressive game being against Philip Rivers and the Chargers. The team is being outscored 217-204. Sure, a -13 differential is not the worst in the NFL, but the product on the field, so far, is astounding.
They rank 31st in Yards per game, 424.1. They have allowed over 1,000 yards rushing through eight games. No, Chris Johnson (CJ2K) is no longer in the NFL. The game is now more passing than ever before. Both parts of the defensive scheme are not working.
Sure, the Lions hired Patricia specifically to help on the defensive side of the ball. But, as a head coach, the responsibilities are more than just on one side of the ball. There’s a guy that handles that. His name is Paul Pasqualoni.
After eight games, the focus becomes less positive and more critical. The expectations heighten on your team and the games mean more. Patricia can do all he can to fix what he’s best at, but it’s up to Pasqualoni to make the final call. The defense needs to be fixed.
At 3-4-1, the Lions travel to Soldier Field to face a team that looks to be falling short of expectations, the Chicago Bears. Just ask our @theriot326.
Mitchell Trubisky looks to be a shell of himself and Chicago has lost as many games as they did last year (five, including the double-doink). Unlike Detroit, the offense is the struggle, and Matt Nagy is constantly having to defend his decisions, something that coaches on the hot seat do.
Both teams have obvious problems and both problem sides will be facing each other at the same time on the field. At Noon CST Sunday, both teams will be looking to save their season and any wild card hopes. We hope to see a classic at Soldier Field this coming Sunday.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images