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.


Larry C. Burgess said...

Unc, do you ever do any roster analysis? I see the potential success of a team as three components: 1) the roster, 2) the coaches, and 3) the game plan. Obviously, execution is always key, but hopefully all of the above three elements are in sync and will optimize the likelihood that plays will be made.

What is up with the Lion's roster? One of their weaknesses this year has been the offensive line. An analysis of the top rushing teams will either show that all-pro personnel abound or that a full compliment of linemen consists of 9-10 men who can be used to cover all five offensive line positions. Most teams carry three tight ends to asure that two can be used to beef up the line for added blocking on short yardage situations. One or two full backs are used for added blocking and run support - the best teams have one running back that can play either full back or half back, e.g. Pittsburg and Atlanta.

My point in all of this is to say the Lions have seven offensive lineman - and they're not all-pro caliber in my estimation. Having only this many linemen means there is less competition, less substitution to keep players fresh, and less depth in the event of injury. The end result is less production on the ground and likely more sacks.

Though Bryson had one big play, I see our running backs are all averaging approximately 3.8 yards a carry. I see our QB harried a lot and sacked quite a bit too.

I hate the game plans, but the roster looks inadequate at this key position. The coaching seems out of sync too, but we all knew that.

Larry C. Burgess said...

I hear Mooch was dumped today.

The QB coach apparently did a decent job last year with game plans - was he retained? Will he take over? From what I recall he opened things up when Mooch turned the responsibility over to him for I think the final three games.

Will a new receivers coach be hired? I've been really disappointed with their play, but the game plan has been horrible too, so maybe some changes can quickly be made to both.

What is the status of KJ? Is the injury to the quads serious?

I hope you read my post about the OL. That is something else to be addressed. I think a big part of the problem is simply numbers. Too few players on the OL make it a long day with few options when someone isn't playing well.

Uncle Miltie said...

I have looked at the roster in the past, but it's been a while. I usually take a hard look in the offseason as I try to figure out what the biggest needs for the team are.

Offhand right now, I'm of the opinion that the O-Line needs to be fixed - badly. The line really has been below average since 1991 when Utley and Andolsek were both lost. Barry Sanders hid a lot of the inadequacies through his brilliance on the field. How many times have Lions fans said "If only Barry had the Dallas O-Line to run behind..." IMHO, Jeff Backus should be allowed to leave. I put him in the bottom 5 of NFL starting LT's. In the offseason, Millen needs to find a new starting quality LT, and a decent LG. I have a hard time believing the DeMulling just got bad when he came here - maybe the coaching change will change his play as well. If so, we really only have that position to fill.

Another weak spot is DE. James Hall is a decent pass rusher. Kalimba is a decnet pass rusher. Redding is a decent run stopper. DeVries is a decent run stopper. The problem is we need to combine those 4 players into two players because we're situationally handicapped. Several teams have exploited that to convert 3rd and long situations against the Lions this year when they get the mismatch they want.

Most other positions we need improvement from are related to the age of the starters. MLB, FB, and TE could all use young heir-apparents.

Then there is the QB position. I'm still not sure if JH is the guy or not. Based on what we've seen recently, it's become more apparent to me that the issue on O is coaching, not his play. Unfortunately, there won't be a big change in the O other than the coordinator until after the season. Maybe that's all it will take to turn JH around, but I'm not sure. I tend to think he'd be a phenom if he played for the Rams or Chiefs as their O's are similar to the one he ran at Oregon. But we just don't know.

The biggest change has finally been made in firing Mooch. Nice guy, but wrong coach for this team. Let's see where this goes now...