Monday, October 31, 2005
Game Notes - vs. Bears: Broken Record
I'm beginning to feel like a broken record when I describe the Lions Offense this year. It's had the same problems week after week, even when players are changed for whatever the reason may be. Here is the quick summary of the issues:
- Questionable decisions by the Quarterback
- Shoddy pass and run blocking by the O-Line
- Bad route running and dropped passes by the receivers
- Little to no running game
- Overly conservative and predictable playcalling
It should be painfully apparent now that the Lions have significantly more problems than just the guy under center. I've been chanting this mantra all year, and it looks like the bozo's reporting for the newspapers are finally coming to the same realization. Joey Harrington was an easy target because he has that 'blue skies' personality where he is naturally the eternal optimist. So the fans and press crucified him as the sole problem with the Lions and Mooch was more than willing to lay the blame for his inept offense on Joey so he could continue to bring more of his 49er players and coaches to Detroit.
The problem for Mooch is that everyone is finally starting to see that the emperor has no clothes.
About a week ago, one of the posters in The Den decided to venture to the 49ers message boards and ask the people there what they thought about Steve Mariucci. What's funny is that they repeated almost verbatim what the criticisms of Mooch have been here in Detroit. To paraphrase, here's what they said:
"He's far too soft with his players and practices."
"He is ultra conservative and unimaginative with his offensive playcalling."
"His system needs a superstar WR to bail him out."
"He's a snake-oil salesman who the media has a hard time pinning down on anything."
"We'll never win a Super Bowl with him as coach."
Sound familiar? Only too eerily so – especially on Halloween. I could get into the details of the train wreck on O this week, but we all know them too well. The dropped passes that killed drives. The short passes on 3rd and long. The poor throws that were nowhere near the receivers. The poor blocking causing the QB to get hammered all game. The lack of much running room for most of the game. The ridiculous sideways 'pass'. The interception in Overtime. It all sounds like a broken record. The only difference is that Joey Harrington wasn't out there to be the scapegoat for the rest of the offensive inadequacies.
One final point on the O issues before I move on as just don't want to beat a dead horse too much. Scott Mitchell was benched and never started another game for the Lions after throwing an ill advised interception that was returned for a TD in overtime. After a nearly identical situation, Jeff Garcia was asked if he felt OK, and if he thought he would be healthy enough to play next week. You draw the conclusion...
The Defense again played OK, not great. For most of the game, they kept the Bears in check, save 3 key series, all of which resulted in points by the Bears. The 99 yard drive was just unthinkable. Boss Bailey dropped two easy interceptions, both of which could have been returned for TD's. The first was on the Bears first pass of the game. Think that may have completely changed the tone of the game? The other was on 3rd down, immediately before a FG. Kenoy also dropped an interception.
It's also readily apparent to me that the D misses Dre Bly much more than it misses Shaun Rogers. I think that's more to do with the depth and backups at those positions than the individuals involved though.
And then there were the quick whistles that negated potential fumbles. The long pass play to Bradley was close to being a fumble at the end, but the whistle blew. It likely would have been ruled as being caused by the ground, but it was still a quick whistle. The swing pass to Thomas Jones that was ruled an incomplete and not a fumble due to a quick whistle was heinous. Using any definition that the NFL has, that play was a fumble, and it was picked up and returned for a TD. Again, the Lions got hosed by incompetent officiating. What was funny is that after that play, someone must have gotten hold of the officiating crew and reminded them to not blow the whistle until the play is over, as they sure didn't blow it on the Garcia 'intentional grounding' pass.
What may be the most frustrating aspect of the game was one that I read this morning after Drew Sharp reported it. To quote: " The St. Louis Rams beat Jacksonville Sunday without the benefit of their starting quarterback, top two receivers -- all three of them former Pro Bowlers -- and two defensive starters. And, yeah, their head coach told them last week that he's out for the remainder of the season due to a bacterial infection striking a valve in his heart." Other teams can do it, but the Lions can't. I'm tired of the excuses.
But once again, the excuses keep flying in LionsLand. Mooch had his typical 'woe is us' press conference after the game, deflecting all criticism, selling his snake oil, and trying to put a positive spin on the Lions prospects. Even with the lack of plays being made on both sides of the ball, the game was still within grasp. Truth be told, there still are 9 games left in the season, and in the watered down 'parity' of the NFL, anything is possible, even a 9 game Lions winning streak.
But if history is any indicator, I wouldn't bet on it.