The Detroit Lions have looked bad recently, losers of five straight games in a row in similar heartbreaking fashion. At least those games came against some of the top competition in the NFL. Against the Arizona Cardinals, however, the Lions finally looked terrible against a worse team. Facing a squad nearly as pitiful as themselves that they probably should have beaten, Detroit was overwhelmed from the beginning, getting completely lit up. This hunt was never close because the Lions have officially thrown in the towel on 2012.
Things are finally starting to wind down for this season, and that's something to give thanks for this holiday season. What else could be learned in between shielding our eyes Sunday afternoon and changing the channel? Here's some thoughts on the 10th ugly loss of the year.
The Lions Have Officially Quit. After being beaten down by the hapless Cardinals and making Ryan Lindley look like a capable starter in the process, isn't it obvious? The only player trying was Calvin Johnson, and the Lions had that all too familiar "woe is us" look all afternoon with every mistake. Clearly, Schwartz's plea for the Lions to keep playing has fallen on deaf ears. You could see it with the unemotional way the defense tackled and the offensive line's inability to look interested enough to block. Matthew Stafford also looked more incompetent than usual in the pocket. Sunday, we found out early after one muffed punt that the Lions had in fact given up. For two weeks in a row, one simple mistake play has negatively impacted the entire team, causing them to eventually lose the game That's a huge indictment on the coaching staff.
What's Stefan Logan Got To Do To Lose His Job Around Here? Another game, another muff and costly mistake courtesy of Logan on specialty teams. This one set up Arizona's first score of the game, and probably turned momentum around for good in the process. From that point on, the Cardinals were off and running. Logan has been terrible this season, and he needs to be replaced after critical mistakes have followed him. Put Mike Thomas in on special teams and see what he can do. It's clear Logan isn't getting the job done, and he shouldn't be the guy for 2013, let alone the rest of 2012.
Maybe Matthew Stafford Has Regressed. Stafford's stat line was particularly ugly Sunday. He tossed three interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns over 50 yards. He only completed 24 passes of 50 attempted, Worse than any of that, though, was watching Stafford's throws sail in the wrong direction while receivers made the wrong cuts. Some of that comes as a result of unfamiliarity with newer players, but shouldn't Stafford be enough of a leader to make plays with whomever is catching his passes? Now, all the questions about the mechanics and dedication are becoming legitimate after another strange effort, this one against a worse defense. The same mistakes keep repeating themselves over and over again from the signal caller. That's not just a coaching problem, it's on the player himself.
It's Time To Put Jim Schwartz On The Hot Seat. We've already covered the ins and outs of this at Lions 101, but another ugly loss, this one to the hapless Cardinals, shouldn't help Schwartz's job security one bit. The Lions aren't serious enough about winning big. If they were, they'd take a hard look at the staff starting now due to the uninspired, unemotional play of the team with nothing on the line. Arizona played with more intensity and passion, and after Schwartz's early week lectures about staying hungry, that's comical. Say what you will about injuries, coordinators and other situations, but things certainly don't look to be getting any better. 2011 is looking like a mere mirage; a simple exception to the usual losing rule in Detroit. It's been up to Schwartz to change that culture completely, and he hasn't gotten it done consistently enough.
Perhaps Martin Mayhew Should Have Traded Up For Patrick Peterson. Though he didn't shut down Johnson like he claimed he would (and really, who does) Peterson's defensive effort wasn't bad Sunday. He played tight defense in the secondary while looking like a more than capable returner with a few nice moves. Had Mayhew made the bold move, perhaps the Lions wouldn't have to feature third rate players such as Jacob Lacey and Drayton Florence in the secondary with Logan in the return game. Talk about killing two birds with one stone on defense and special teams. This offseason, it's time for Mayhew to step up and make bolder moves to improve the things which need improving for Detroit, namely the pitiful defense. If 2012 has proven anything, it's that the strategy of signing of lousy band aids will eventually catch up with you given enough critical injures. Better depth players and starters are needed in a hurry.
Lions? Give Johnson credit for showing up. Everyone else didn't. That's all.
Lambs? Playing particularly poorly was Stafford and the offensive line, which showed a complete reluctance to block The defensive backfield seemed to allow every completion they didn't need to Sunday, and the receivers didn't help their quarterback, making nearly every mistake to cost the offense.
What About The Five Things? Coming into this 4-9 bowl, we said it would be important to see who wanted it more. With better body language and play, clearly it was Arizona. The Cardinals defense was able to outplay the Lions' defense, and looked more inspired and aggressive from the get-go. Patrick Peterson didn't outplay Calvin Johnson, but he played good enough defense and make a nice impact in the return game. Detroit's defensive line didn't do nearly enough to slow Lindley and the Cardinals' offense down, getting their first sack in the second half. Once again, the Lions' decent start went to waste. After grabbing a 7-0 lead, one mistake play turned the entire tide against Detroit like last week and the Lions wilted, proving history repeats itself.
Stalking The Next Prey: Detroit's task of ending their six game slide doesn't get any easier, as the Atlanta Falcons visit Ford Field on Saturday night. The game begins at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Jacob Lacey, Jim Schwartz, Martin Mayhew, Matthew Stafford, Mike Thomas, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Stefan Logan