First of all Lion's fans, heads up. We are still in the playoffs. That means we COULD win the Superbowl. How likely that is I don't know, but we are in the tourney. Yes, our defense has some holes and I will address that later. But now let's talk Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and the offense.
Stafford amassed a season that we as Lions fans have never witnessed. In fact, only three times in NFL history has a QB had better regular season stats. He will be inked into the NFL record books behind Brees, Brady, and Marino. Not bad company. Even more impressive he is ONLY 23 years old with only about a season and a half of game time experience. I believe he is the youngest QB in NFL history to throw 30 TD passes, the youngest to throw 40 TD passes, the youngest to throw for 4,000 yards and the youngest to throw for more than 5000 yards. In the last four games he has thrown 14 TD's and 1400 yards. He did it all in Honolulu Blue. He clearly has a bright future and so do the Lions.
Calvin Johnson is clearly the best WR in the NFL right now. He and Stafford are growing together. Together they have realized they are almost impossible to stop. If Calvin gets behind the defense it will be completed or he will draw a penalty. The DB's are so set on catching up with him that Staff can under-throw the ball and Calvin will adjust and draw a penalty. If the ball is on the money, it's a TD. Calvin can now run all the routes and Stafford can throw all the routes.
The emergence of Titus Young really puts the defenses in a bind. This kid has some sticky mitts. He makes catches that I didn't think would be possible for him. He is already exceeding my expectations. With these threats I would be happy, but we also have Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. As Dan Deirdorf once said, "Detroit has an embarrassment of riches on offense".
I think one impact offensive lineman would make a world of difference to this offense's run game. Then we could evaluate our running backs. I hate to jump to conclusions about our running backs when we certainly lack some talent on the line and some RB's haven't even played yet (Mikel Leshoure) . Considering we really don't use a fullback, it is essential our line can get a consistent push.
Defensively, we ran into some problems at Lambeau Field. Sure we can upgrade some positions but we have talent sprinkled all over the defense. Alphonso Smith is still learning when to take a risk and when to not. I think he and other DB's under estimated Matt Flynn ability. Chris Houston on the late in the game let James Jones get even with him before he decided to run with him. To me that says Houston didn't think Flynn had it in him to go THAT deep. He sat on the route looking to be the hero and it cost us. Gunther Cunningham also underestimated Flynn. We blitzed more than usual thinking we could do to him what we did to Tebow. Big mistake, Flynn carved us up. The even bigger mistake was that Gunther kept dialing it up expecting a different result. Had the defense played a game like last week against the San Diego Chargers and kept everything in front of them (respecting Phillip Rivers) and making the tackle, this game wouldn't have even been close.
The defensive line was without Corey Williams and it showed but D-line is not a problem for Detroit. Linebackers are also fine and would be difficult to upgrade.
As much as I hate to sound like a bitter fan, I have to comment on the referees. We had to use a few challenges early on plays we should't have had to. We lost one challenge (we should've won). Doesn't seem like a big deal until Titus Young makes an AMAZING catch in the end zone. The official blew the call and ruled it incomplete, because of the two earlier discrepancies we could not challenge it. Because it wasn't ruled a touchdown on the field, the booth wouldn't review it. We kicked a field goal. We lost four points because of bad officiating. Coincidentally we lost by four points.
If we can use this loss as a learning moment for our defense and it's coordinator, we will be fine. If not this year, than in the future. We have years of good football ahead of us.