I was making the rounds of reading national columnists following the Lions loss on Saturday. There are several who say that it was not the best weekend for referees, lots of talk about the forced fumble that should have been a TD and changed the complexion of the game, praise for CJ's performance in the loss, and lots of arrows cast at the defense, particularly for its second-half performance.
Even with some missed holding calls and some very generous spots resulting in first downs, the Lions D allowed 5 TDs and a victory formation (at the Lions 2 yard line) in the Saints' six second-half possessions. So it was not good. But was it as bad as ESPN columnist Gregg Easterbrook had to say about the performance? Read on and weigh in.
From the column on ESPN:
Twice in an NFL playoff contest, the Detroit defense had no one even attempting to guard a New Orleans receiver. It's not that the receiver beat his man -- there was no one to beat! Twice in an NFL playoff game, the Detroit defense surrendered touchdowns to uncovered receivers. In their final two games, the Lions allowed 90 points and 1,176 yards of offense. Detroit Lions defense, you are guilty of the single worst performance of the season. So far.
Isn't that going a little too far? Or if it's not, how much responsibility for this do the coaches bear? I'm honestly not trying to stir anyone up; I am just interested to know whether it is a fair assessment.
The whole segment is at the very bottom of the article here.
The Lions D previously got called out by the same columnist for a huge defensive lapse in the previous meeting with the Saints, when Chris Harris jumped his route and left Eric Wright hung out to dry as Meacham scored. From the very end of that column:
Sure, Detroit has injuries in the secondary -- everyone in the NFL has injuries. Six defenders to cover two receivers and the speed receiver goes deep one-on-one: Detroit Lions, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season. So far.
Chris Harris last week shouldered the blame for that play in an interview with SI's Peter King. But with Harris out this time around, and a healthy defense otherwise, I can't shake the feeling that the coaches didn't prepare guys the best way possible. The coaches didn't make our players drop two interceptions. But it seemed like the positioning on some of the key plays was awful, and some of that has to lay at the feet of the coaches doesn't it? Our D was on the field for nearly 21 minutes of the second half, and overall in the game, the Saints ran 81 plays and had zero punts.
So was it THE WORST?
How optimistic are you that our defensive struggles of late can be corrected in the offseason?