FanPost

Reviewing the Detroit Lions 2009 Season

Hello, Pride of Detroit readers! I recently wrote this post reviewing the Lions' 2009 season. The original is located on my site, called Checking the Numbers. Since I thought you would be interested in the post, I let Sean know about it, and he also thought you would be interested in it. So, here you go, I hope you enjoy it.

 Stafford-v-browns_medium

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Continuing the series of NFL Season Reviews that was begun with the Rams 2009 Review, we will now take a look at the Detroit Lions' 2009 season. As I mentioned in the Rams post, I will try to follow, as closely as possible, the teams in order of the upcoming NFL Draft. At 2-14, that puts the Lions at number two on this list. Rarely would a 2-14 season be considered a cause for hope, but in the case of the Lions, fresh off of a winless season in 2008, I believe that this year is the exception. While still a tough year, Detroit fans got a glimpse of the future, and for a rookie on a team that still needs a lot of help on talent, Matthew Stafford wasn't bad. He struggled at times, but he did show signs of the talent and leadership that made him the number 1 overall pick last year. His highlight came in a 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns where Stafford threw for over 400 yards and 5 TD passes. With that, let's get into the review.

These posts follow a set formula, which is described in this paragraph. First, we will look at the team’s Offensive and Defensive values and ranks for total yards, points, passing and rushing. This will give a general feel for the team’s season. Next, we have a set of tables that compares the team’s points scored and allowed as well as their total yards, and passing and rushing yards, gained and allowed for each game. These values will be compared with the respective opponent’s corresponding averages, with the differences between the team’s value and the opponent’s average calculated. Finally, I included a sum of the differences for the entire season. This should give a good indication of how the team’s various units performed with respect to their opposition as well as which units performed better or worse. (Note: All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com)

With that background description, let’s see how the Lions performed this season. First, we’ll look at their raw numbers in terms of offensive and defensive yards and league rankings.

Team Offense Value Rank   Team Defense Value Rank
Points 262 27   Points 494 32
Yards 4784 26   Yards 6274 32
Cmp 316 --   Cmp 371 --
Att 585 --   Att 545 --
Pass Yards 3168 21   Pass Yards 4249 32
NY/A 5 28   NY/A 7.4 32
Pass TD 16 24   Pass TD 35 32
Pass INTs 32 32   Pass INTs 9 30
Rush Yards 1616 24   Rush Yards 2025 25
Rush TD 9 22   Rush TD 18 26
Y/A 4 28   Y/A 4.4 21
Sacks 43 24   Sacks 26 29

Table 1

Both the Lions' offense and their defense struggled, but the defense appears to be the bigger issue. While the offense ranked in the mid 20s in the NFL in most categories, the defense ranked around 30 or worse for most categories. The biggest issue with the offense was INTs, and with more experience, Lions fans can hope that Stafford can bring that number down next year.

Now that we’ve looked at the general overview, let’s look at the game by game statistical tables. Table 2 contains the Lions’ points scored and allowed in each game next to the opponents’ average defensive points allowed and average offensive points scored. It also shows the Lions’ points scored minus the opponent’s average points allowed and the Lions’ points allowed minus the opponent’s average points scored. For the Diff1 column, a positive number would be good, while for the Diff2 column, a negative number would be good.


Lions Pts Opp D
Opp Pts Opp O
Opp Score Avg Pt Diff1 Score Avg Pt Diff2
New Orleans Saints 27 21.31 5.69 45 31.88 13.13
Minnesota Vikings 13 19.5 -6.5 27 29.38 -2.38
Washington Redskins 19 21 -2 14 16.63 -2.63
Chicago Bears 24 23.44 0.56 48 20.44 27.56
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 20.25 -0.25 28 23 5
Green Bay Packers 0 18.56 -18.56 26 28.81 -2.81
St. Louis Rams 10 27.25 -17.25 17 10.94 6.06
Seattle Seahawks 20 24.38 -4.38 32 17.5 14.5
Minnesota Vikings 10 19.5 -9.5 27 29.38 -2.38
Cleveland Browns 38 23.44 14.56 37 15.31 21.69
Green Bay Packers 12 18.56 -6.56 34 28.81 5.19
Cincinnati Bengals 13 18.19 -5.19 23 19.06 3.94
Baltimore Ravens 3 16.31 -13.31 48 24.44 23.56
Arizona Cardinals 24 20.31 3.69 31 23.44 7.56
San Francisco 49ers 6 17.56 -11.56 20 20.63 -0.63
Chicago Bears 23 23.44 -0.44 37 20.44 16.56
Sum Difference     -71     133.94

Table 2

Although Detroit lost many games, and most of them would not be considered close losses, they did not fair horribly when compared with their opponents' average in this table. The greater differential came in the points allowed when compared with the opponents' offensive averages. The early indication, then, is that the defense is a greater weakness than the offense. This corresponds with what we saw in Table 1 as well. Next, we'll look at a yardage comparison, in Table 3.


Lions Yds Opp D
Opp Yds Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Yd Diff1 Gained Avg Yd Diff2
New Orleans Saints 231 357.75 -126.75 515 403.81 111.19
Minnesota Vikings 265 305.5 -40.5 265 379.63 -114.63
Washington Redskins 381 319.69 61.31 390 312.38 77.63
Chicago Bears 398 337.75 60.25 276 310.31 -34.31
Pittsburgh Steelers 335 305.31 29.69 344 371.31 -27.31
Green Bay Packers 149 284.44 -135.44 435 379.06 55.94
St. Louis Rams 289 372.81 -83.81 362 279.38 82.63
Seattle Seahawks 300 356.44 -56.44 397 316.81 80.19
Minnesota Vikings 297 305.5 -8.5 492 379.63 112.38
Cleveland Browns 473 389.31 83.69 439 260.19 178.81
Green Bay Packers 272 284.44 -12.44 422 379.06 42.94
Cincinnati Bengals 245 301.38 -56.38 321 309.13 11.88
Baltimore Ravens 229 300.5 -71.5 548 351.19 196.81
Arizona Cardinals 282 346.44 -64.44 340 344.38 -4.38
San Francisco 49ers 289 326.38 -37.38 310 290.75 19.25
Chicago Bears 349 337.75 11.25 418 310.31 107.69
Sum Difference     -447.38     896.69

Table 3

Here we see a similar story as well. Although both sides of the ball struggled in terms of yardage, the defense allowed twice as many yards above the opponents' offensive average than the difference between the offensive output and corresponding defensive averages. Now, let's take a look at the yardage comparisons broken down by rushing and passing in the next two tables.


Lions P-Yd Opp D
Opp P-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Pa Diff1 Gained Avg Pa Diff2
New Orleans Saints 198 235.56 -37.56 358 272.19 85.81
Minnesota Vikings 136 218.38 -82.38 153 259.75 -106.75
Washington Redskins 227 207.25 19.75 325 218.13 106.88
Chicago Bears 308 211.38 96.63 125 217.06 -92.06
Pittsburgh Steelers 225 215.44 9.56 262 259.25 2.75
Green Bay Packers 71 201.13 -130.13 328 261.25 66.75
St. Louis Rams 162 235.25 -73.25 212 167.88 44.13
Seattle Seahawks 186 245.44 -59.44 342 218.94 123.06
Minnesota Vikings 204 218.38 -14.38 340 259.75 80.25
Cleveland Browns 416 244.69 171.31 308 129.75 178.25
Green Bay Packers 199 201.13 -2.13 342 261.25 80.75
Cincinnati Bengals 165 203.06 -38.06 202 180.63 21.38
Baltimore Ravens 126 207.25 -81.25 240 213.69 26.31
Arizona Cardinals 121 233.69 -112.69 218 251 -33
San Francisco 49ers 175 229.38 -54.38 226 190.75 35.25
Chicago Bears 249 211.38 37.63 268 217.06 50.94
Sum Difference     -350.75     670.69

Table 4


Lions R-Yd Opp D
Opp R-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Ru Diff1 Gained Avg Ru Diff2
New Orleans Saints 33 122.19 -89.19 157 131.63 25.38
Minnesota Vikings 129 87.13 41.88 112 119.88 -7.88
Washington Redskins 154 112.44 41.56 65 94.25 -29.25
Chicago Bears 90 126.38 -36.38 151 93.25 57.75
Pittsburgh Steelers 110 89.88 20.13 82 112.06 -30.06
Green Bay Packers 78 83.31 -5.31 107 117.81 -10.81
St. Louis Rams 127 137.56 -10.56 150 111.5 38.5
Seattle Seahawks 114 111 3 55 97.88 -42.88
Minnesota Vikings 93 87.13 5.88 152 119.88 32.13
Cleveland Browns 57 144.63 -87.63 131 130.44 0.56
Green Bay Packers 73 83.31 -10.31 80 117.81 -37.81
Cincinnati Bengals 80 98.31 -18.31 119 128.5 -9.5
Baltimore Ravens 103 93.25 9.75 308 137.5 170.5
Arizona Cardinals 161 112.75 48.25 122 93.38 28.63
San Francisco 49ers 114 97 17 84 100 -16
Chicago Bears 100 126.38 -26.38 150 93.25 56.75
Sum Difference     -96.63     226

Table 5

Again, we see that the defense is worse than the offense. However, we also see that passing offense and defense was worse than rushing offense and defense. Of any category, passing defense was by far the worst for Detroit when compared with their opponents' averages. Passing offense was second, but passing defense had a difference of nearly twice that of passing offense.

So, as with the Rams, the Lions still have many needs. As Sean Yuille notes in this post at Pride of Detroit, the Lions have needs at LG and RT. It's possible that they go with OT with the second pick, which should help keep Stafford upright more, and hopefully, reduce the number interceptions thrown next year. On the other hand, my analysis here indicates that pass defense may be a bigger need. It is possible that the Lions take S Eric Berry. I haven't read up on all of the pre-draft stuff yet, so I don't know a ton about him, but I believe I've read that Berry is being compared to Ed Reed. That could be a very good addition to a defense with only 9 interceptions a year ago.

Either way, although the Lions only won two games and it's still early in the Jim Schwartz era, I see signs that they are headed in the right direction.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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