Following Sunday's debacle of a game, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz made it perfectly clear that we shouldn't expect any changes to the coaching staff during the bye week. Specifically, firing special teams coordinator Danny Crossman isn't even a consideration despite the fact that the Lions have allowed four special teams touchdowns in their last two games. Schwartz explained that it's not a scheme problem, but rather an issue with the players not making plays.
I have to call foul on Schwartz's comments. These special teams issues have been killing the Lions for more than the last two games. Covering kicks and punts was a problem in the preseason, and it was a problem last season as well. It goes beyond a simple lack of execution. Still don't believe me? Take a look at what Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said after Sunday's game. From the Star Tribune:
"In our first special teams kickoff return meeting, we saw some things," coach Leslie Frazier said. "And we pointed out that if everybody holds their block, Percy's going to score. It was obvious."
"It was obvious." That just about sums it up. Teams are aware of the flaws in the Lions' scheme and are exploiting them. It's become so bad for the Lions that there is an expectation from opponents that they will score on special teams plays that should only rarely result in points. Here's more from the Star Tribune:
Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer knew something was there. All week long, the always caffeinated Priefer kept peppering his kickoff return team with instruction and encouragement, sensing vulnerability in Detroit's coverage unit and wanting his players to sense the golden opportunity.
"Coach Priefer was calling touchdown," Percy Harvin said. "All week. He knew it was a great chance for us to score."
Mike Priefer, by the way, is the son of former Lions special teams coordinator Chuck Priefer. I long for the days of when the elder Priefer was around in Detroit, because the Lions' special teams units have gone downhill quite a bit since he retired after the 2006 season, and they just seem to just keep getting worse and worse.
The Lions have now lost two games this season because of issues on their special teams units. At what point does Schwartz stop pretending that it's simply an execution issue and do something to actually fix this problem?