I figured that a follow-up on my post each week could be relevant, so I have decided to start doing a follow-up to discuss my picks, and see how everyone feels after the fact. In review, my key player picks were Shaun Hill on offense, and DeAndre Levy on defense. I also mentioned that if Levy left the game, that Turk McBride and Zack Follett would be secondary keys to a Lion victory this week. As we all know, the Lions lost 35-32 after what looked like a promising chance at a late comeback. All in all, the Lions played surprisingly well, but just for discussion's sake, let's review what I said yesterday, after the jump.
First of all, I said that Shaun Hill had to pass for over 60% completions for the Lions to even have a chance in this game. That statement was not wholly true, as the Lions DID have a very good chance to win this game. However, I have read several opinions stating that the Lion's receivers are not doing their jobs, and that was the reason that Hill was not passing for >60% completions. I have to disagree. I watched both games, and I witnessed several passes attempted by Shaun Hill, in both games, that were way off target, behind, high, or into coverage. Hill was 25 for 45 in this game (55.5%), and I only saw a few dropped passes. At best, 15 of Hill's incomplete passes were all on him, and 2 of them were intercepted. Sure he passed for 335 yards and 2 TDs, but take away Jahvid Best's 154 yards and 9 receptions, and Hill is 16 for 36 (44.4%) for 181 yards and 1 TD (to CJ). Jahvid Best was out of this world good this week, and STILL it was not good enough for the Lions to win. Why?
The reason, in my opinion, is that Shaun Hill was so inaccurate when he wasn't dinking and dunking to Best, that the Lions were 1 dimensional on offense. The whole offense WAS Jahvid Best, and as soon as the Eagles figured that out (at some point in the 2nd QTR) they ran off 28 unanswered points. Hill seemed to bounce back when his back was to the wall and it was time to play hurry-up in the 4th QTR, but it was too little too late. I believe that I was correct in my reasoning that Hill would prove to be the key player to a win or a loss for the Lions this week, and I can only wonder what could have been had he not thrown 2 INTS, and had he passed for >60% completions. Maybe we would have still lost, but maybe we would have won too. I believe if Matt Stafford had been under center, we would have beaten the Eagles this week, and that is a very good thing in respect to the progress that our team has obviously made.
Secondly, I said that DeAndre Levy would be the key to a Lion victory for our defense. I was under the impression that he would play when I wrote my post, but apparently the coaches wanted to hold him out a bit longer, erring on the side of caution. As such, Landon Johnson started and played the entire game at MLB. My main concern was stopping Mike Vick from running wild on us, and our defense did a very good job in that regard during this game. Vick ran for only 37 yards against the Lions this week, and I give the credit to our entire D-line and to our OLBs for that. I said that Landon Johnson would have to play a stellar game to stop Vick, if Levy did not play, and he only recorded 1 tackle. I do not think he did a good job of holding his ground in the middle of the field, as LeSean McCoy had 3 rushing TDs and 120 yards rushing. That said, he did help to contain Vick, even if it was just by being on the field.
I also said that Turk McBride and Zach Follett would have to step up in a big way in order for the Lions to win this week. McBride played a very good game, often getting to Michael Vick and putting a good amount of pressure on him throughout the game. He had 1 tackle, 1 sack, and he forced Vick to fumble, so I think he was very good in relief of Cliff Avril. Zack Follett made just 2 tackles, and I am not so sure that he played well enough to warrant mention, other than the fact that his 2 tackles were good ones. Unfortunately, Michael Vick showed that he CAN be a very good passer in this league, as he went 21-34 (61.7%) for 284 yards and 2 TDs. Some might argue that our weak secondary was the reason for his success, but I would argue that he was very accurate with his throws, patient with his reads, and very effective overall. In my opinion, what Vick did for the Eagles today is exactly what should be expected of a backup QB...he was efficient and he got the job done.
In the end, I have to give some credit to the Eagles defense against the pass as well. Not all of the incompletions by Hill were due to inaccuracy, but rather the Eagles secondary made some good plays on the ball, to swat the ball away from our receivers and break up passes. I also have to give credit to LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Mike Vick...as those 3 players were the reason that Philadelphia was able to come away with a win today. Without our starting MLB, McCoy was able to have a field day. If Levy had played, and played well, then maybe he would have prevented at least 1 of McCoy's TDs...and the Lions could have won the game. It is apparent that our defensive backfield is our weakness on defense though, and when we can't stop the run or the pass it will be difficult to win any game. I do believe we WILL win some games this year, but we have to be able to shut down the run first.
In conclusion, I feel that my key picks were pretty good. I believe the Lions would have won had Shaun Hill passed for over 60% completions, or if the defense had been able to stop the run. Levy did not play, but the fact that LeSean McCoy ran 3 TDs up the middle clearly shows that our MLB did not get the job done. If Landon Johnson HAD been able to get the job done (stopping at least 1 rushing TD of McCoy's 3) he would have proven to be key to a Lion victory (as we would have won the game). I also believe that the Lions would have won handily if both of my key players had played to the levels that I believed were needed, but in hindsight I think we may have won the game if just one or the other had played up to my expectations. Put another one in the books ladies and gentlemen, but do not lose heart. The Lions will win games this year, and it is only a matter of time. GO LIONS!