I just knew it was going to happen...
I don't want to sit here and start this up with any depressing comments or try to rah rah fans about this particular game, like some people. This loss hurt more than any that I can remember since even before the Millen era began, most likely in 2000 when they were a missed field goal away from the playoffs with Gary Moeller as head coach.
When Stafford scrambled out of the endzone and landed on that already hurting shoulder, (he was grimacing in pain even before that) got up and walked off of the field, and Drew Stanton walked on to the field, at that very moment I just knew...
The game was officially over.
I was declaring it a loss at that instance, while my fellow Lions fan buddies were like, "Dude, there is still time left and we have the lead! How could you say that already?" Why? Well, because I've seen enough Lions games to know how that one was going to end, like it always did when the most important player on the team goes out with an injury...with a heartbreaking loss.
Sure enough, I was right. I wasn't even surprised. I expected it even. What hurt the most was not only did we lose the game when we seemingly had that Jets team beaten, but our starting QB went down yet again with another serious injury, probably for another long period of time. It's like watching the same bad movie but with sequels over and over and over again every single year. You may not know how the movie starts, but you sure as hell know how they end.
However, as bad as that game ended, we as Lions fans have to suck it up. We aren't the same ol' Lions despite losing yet again. This team is just too young, too undisciplined, and still lacking some talent to win games without the starting quarterback in there. Once he went out, every bit of momentum was sucked right out of every player on that team, you could see it in their facial expressions. It's very clear that Matthew Stafford is the heart and soul of this entire football team...but can he stay on the field a whole 16 games? Good question.
I believe Stafford isn't the injury prone QB that he appears to be. First of all, last year's offensive line was atrocious and he was running for his life to the point that Schwartz just shut him down early to protect him from harm's way. Those injuries last season were because of the fact that he was only 21 years old ( still growing into that body) and got slammed to the ground by 300+ lineman more than once He could've played more than 10 games, but he didn't. This year, he got rocked by Julius Peppers right out of the gate and I truly believe he was never really 100% when he came back so I guess he technically didn't get hurt again, he was already still hurting from week 1.
Next year, once he's fully healthy and they get better run blockers to get something that even closely resembles a run game, it will take the pressure off of him and help out the entire offense. Biggest issue isn't pass protection, it's not having decent run blocking to have a run game to keep defenses truly honest and off balance. Luckily, that seems to be the only need on offense.
Defensively, linebacker is in need of serious help. Levy is the only guy in that group that's even worth a shit, Peterson is too old/washed up and potentially cost us that game with his stupid play out of bounds. He needs to go after this season. Follett is a special teamer and outside of that, we don't really have anybody to make plays. We need 3 linebackers and at least 1 corner and 1 safety to be totally where we need to be defensively.
Next year's draft will end up being the difference for this Lions team. We are one good draft away from having a complete team. We have everything except good run blockers, linebackers, and a couple defensive backs. Last year it seemed like we needed an entire team and this year it's just a few pieces. Let's be thankful that at least we have a team talented enough to be in every game they play after just 2 offseasons removed from an 0-16 season.
That alone is pretty remarkable.
Again, we were told by numerous Detroit writers and journalists that we can't measure this season by wins because we were still a few pieces away from competing for a playoff spot. Of course nobody wanted to listen to that and who knows, if Stafford never got hurt we might be 6-2 instead of 2-6, but the reality is they were right all along. This season was about progress and even though it doesn't seem like we made any, we actually made quite a bit of progress. We proved to every team we played so far that we can compete to win and we cannot be taken lightly anymore. The wins don't reflect that, but this team isn't in that position just yet to measure a season by wins. After the 2011 draft and few good free agent signings, every team in the NFC North better watch out...
THE ROAR WILL FINALLY BE RESTORED!