Friday, November 25, 2005
Game Notes - vs. Falcons: Time to Go...
That's really the only way to describe that game. Once again, the Lions fell flat on their face in front of a national audience. The O looked completely stagnant, the D couldn't stop the run, and in general everything looked bad. In reality, this game was almost a mirror image of any of the last several Lions games. The biggest problem with it was that many of us held out hope that the Lions would rise in their traditional Turkey Day fashion, and play a solid game against the Falcons.
If there was anything good to come out of the game it's that Mooch is almost certainly not going to be back next year. Heck, if the rumormongers have any truth to their reports, he may not be around by Monday. And lets be serious about this, the issues here relate more to coaching than any individual players performance. The offense is so predictable and so stagnant that we used all three quarterbacks, and other than that horrible looking duck that Garcia threw, you would have no way to tell one's performance from another. They all throw the same stupid short passes on third and long because - you guessed it - they're coached to do it. I mean when it was just Joey, it was easy to say he was the problem. Then when Garcia did it, it was well, maybe that was his only option on the play too. But then to see DanO do it too... Shoot, that kid is so green that he ONLY does exactly what he's told to do. You draw the conclusion.
How can anyone justify what they see Mooch's O do? KJ had his first 3 carries in the first quarter go for 26 yards against a team that has given up a lot of rushing yardage. Then he gets only one more carry the rest of the game? In the one game where the Lions should be running the ball, they only manage to run it 13 times? It looked like KJ was benched after committing a false start penalty, but then later, Bryson fumbles and his reward appears to be more playing time in the next series? This makes no sense whatsoever, other than realizing the Bryson is one of Mooch's favorites, and apparently, KJ is not.
If it was only that Mooch has his favorites, and he wants to play them, that would be one thing. But then we heard the sideline reporting by Pam Oliver when Jeff Garcia came in that made me want to puke. To paraphrase, she said "When Mariucci told the receivers that they were making the switch to Garcia, he told them they had to be quicker in and out of their routes and step up their game out there."
When Aikman and Buck heard that, they seemed absolutely amazed. I believe Aikman commented "They waited until NOW to start coaching the receivers?"
Sorry, but if that was an accurate description of what Mooch said on the sideline, it comes across to me as "Now that my guy is going in, you WR's better start playing hard." Again, if this is accurate, it is the single worst thing I have ever heard come from any coach's mouth. It implies that the players didn't have to try hard when one player was on the field, but they had better give it their all when the coach's favorite gets out there. Completely inexcusable.
And the broadcasting crew had it right whit their point about waiting to coach the receivers. The receivers were horribly bad in this game. Fox had the drop count at 6, but my personal count was a bit higher at 9. In a game where the 3 QB's went a combined 25 for 48 (52.1%), drops accounted for 18.7% of the pass plays. Elimination of drops would have raised the completion percentage to over 70% and guaranteed have had a significant impact on the outcome of the game. Heck, even on the one TD play, the ball hit iRoy in the hands, bounced off, bounced off a defender, and THEN iRoy caught it. And then he had the nerve to do that ridiculous meditation thing in the end zone. Hello iRoy, your TEAM was down by 20 points - hardly a time for a TD celebration.
And that, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with this team. Getting excited and celebrating about the wrong things. Completely forgetting the game plan. A complete lack of discipline - they had 3 more offside penalties.
Personally, I was screaming at the refs when those offsides were called as that Atlanta center should have been called for illegal procedure about 15 times. That head bob / swivel thing he does is simply illegal, and he needs to get flagged for it. I was waiting for Shaun Rogers to simply take a paw and biff the guy upside the head before the snap when he moved his head like that again, just to prove a point. I'm not excusing the offsides calls, but the league has to do something about that type of movement. Either it's legal and you completely throw out the rules on the O-Line having to be set, or you start penalizing the Falcons.
Beyond that, the D couldn't stop the run - heck they couldn't even slow them down. Dunn ran for 116 on 17 carries. Duckett ran for 72 on 19, with a lot of those coming when the Falcons went into their 'run-out-the-clock' offense. It looks like Mora inherited that from Mooch, so Falcons fans might want to get a bit worried about that tendency in the future - run out the clock instead of going for the jugular. But it really didn't matter since the Lions simply couldn't stop them from running whenever they wanted. It appeared to me the problem was the linebackers as they were not filling the holes and not wrapping up tacklers. Earl Holmes may not be as fast as a lot of fans would want him to be, but he sure does know how to fill the running lanes and wrap up the ballcarrier. And he was sorely missed in this game.
Another painful thing to see was Dre not being able to use his right hand at all. He would have had 2 more picks in this game if he had 2 working hands. His presence was immediately felt as the Falcons completed only 2 passes all day to their receivers. Of course Alge Crumpler made up for that by snagging 7 for 104, as none of our LB's or Safeties could cover him.
This was a painful game to watch, especially after the indigestion from eating all that turkey. We can only hope that a change is made, and made soon, that gives this team a fighting chance to win. It won't as long as Mooch is coaching.