Monday, October 03, 2005
Game Notes - @ Bucs: Where the problem lies...
Well, this last game showed me about everything I needed to see to truly understand why the Lions are in the predicament they are in. And here's a hint - it isn't Joey.
I'll make this as simple as possible for the less feeble minded Lions fans out there. For 3 1/2 quarters, we keep running the ball into the middle of the line, putting ourselves in 3rd and longs, and walking off the field after another 3 and out. Then FINALLY when the chips are down, and we are out of timeouts and it's obvious we have only this last possession, we open the offense up. And what happens? We march almost 90 yards showing the offense we all KNEW we had, only to get screwed over by the refs on a bad call at the end.
To put it plain and simple, WHY IN THE HECK DID IT TAKE 3 1/2 QUARTERS FOR US TO OPEN IT UP?????
That is coaching my friends, and that last drive told me everything I needed to know about who is to blame for the Lions 1-2 record.
It wasn't a great day for Joey prior to that final drive. Before the last drive, Joey was 7 for 13 for 66 yards on the day - far from what we would want our QB to be. There were 3 drops already - one by Bryson and 2 by Roy. Edit: I originally mistakenly had the CRog drop listed here, not on the final drive. My bad... (Although the NFL stats will probably somehow say that there was only 1 drop for the entire game, but I digress...) That means that Joey was on target and should have completed 10 of 13 passes. One of them would have been an EASY 68 yard TD that Roy dropped.
Irregardless of the drops and what happened earlier, we were losing with 5:15 left in the 4th quarter. The O wasn't moving the ball running or throwing. Joey was in line to be set up as the scapegoat. There was almost no evidence that the problem had anything to do with anything except Joey.
Then the strangest thing happened - we had that final drive. Down by more than a FG, we had to score a TD to win it. There would be no chance for a second possession due to the clock. And the Lions come out for the first time all day in 3 WR sets. We saw an O that moved the ball with relative ease against one of the best D's in the league. They should have scored two different times at the end of that drive, save a blown replay call and a rookie not dragging his toes. Some will argue that the Bucs were in prevent D, and that's why we were able to move that easily, but that's just not factual. The Bucs played the same basic Cover-2 they always play. The Lions actually ran 2 consecutive running plays into the pile in the middle fo the drive, and were bailed out of that stupid play calling by a good KJ2 catch on 4th down. The evidence is there - the Lions can move the ball when they spread the field and start throwing it.
And the biggest suprise? In the final drive, Joey goes 8 for 14, with three of those incompletes being the final 3 plays. It also includes a CRog drop on a 3rd down play. That's 8 for 11 on the final drive for 71 yards prior to the hose job. Not even accounting for the drop, Joey should have been 9 of 12 for 83 yards and a TD. All while the Lions were in a 3WR formation. A formation that the Lions hadn't run consistently all year until that point.
Edit: As was pointed out to me, the Lions went into 3 wide one other series, but it was so brief that it really didn't register. The last series of the first half, The lions went 3 wide on a 2 play drive in which Joey was 2 for 2 for 41 yards before Pollard fumbled. If anything, it makes this argument even stronger...
To put it another way, the 3WR O is the offense we all thought the Lions should be running this year. Stretch the field and take advantage of the personnel we have. And suprise, suprise - when we ran it, it worked. And that's when you have to start asking questions. Why haven't we seen that O before? Why do we keep running the same runs up the gut that weren't working? Who is calling the plays?
I feel like I have to defend Joey because of what I keep hearing people say. I HATE this. I AM NOT A JOEY SUPPORTER. I just call it like I see it. The issue in this game was play calling - not Joey, not the O-line, not the D, but play calling. Go back and re-watch the game and ask yourself why in the HECK we are running yet another dive into the pile on 1st and 10, then again on 2nd and 10...
Argh... I hate playing this game - what would JH have done if it weren't for the drops. I grew up learning "If if's and but's were candy and nuts we'd all have a happy Christmas". Unfortunately, in a game like this, you have to in order to prove a point. Here is the summary in simple bullet point form:
- If Roy doesn't drop that first pass, he has a 68 yard TD, EASY.
- If we don't get hosed by the replay ref, Pollard catches a 12 yard TD, and 2 more pass attempts aren't even there.
Joey's actual game stats: 15-27-137-0TD, 55% completion
Joey's revised game stats: 17-25-217-2TD, 68% completion
If his final line is like the bottom one and the Lions win, NO ONE save the absolutely worst Joey haters is calling for the kids head.
And this brings us back to the main question - why haven't we seen this until this point?
It's coaching, and that's Mooch's responsibility.
I understand the need to have a balanced attack, to keep running the ball so that the D has to be honest. But Mooch seems intent on using the run to set up the pass, when with this team it should be the exact opposite. Use the pass to set up the run. Use those stud receivers to stretch the field AND THEN let KJ run through all the open daylight.
I used to be firmly in Mooch's camp. I'm now seeing the light that he may be too inflexible for the good of this team. I only hope he comes to the same conclusions I have about the O, swallows his pride, and opens it up.
This team needs it.