I really did not want to post this mainly because I have a ton of other things that I should be doing but I could not stand it any more. A lot of people have been complaining about the offense and the familiar line of "Our Defense is playing well enough to keep us in the game" keeps coming up but it is just not true.
We keep wanting to to attribute the loosing this season to coaching and the offense which might be reasonable to some extent but I think on a larger scale a lot of the emotions we have are a result of misplaced expectations. As I mentioned in a comment earlier we should not have expected the Lions to be better this year. By pretty much any statistical measure we should be regressing to the mean this year, just as we are. Here is a good article talking about why. But what we could have expected was to maintain from last year.
A lot of people have had some complaints about the offense not moving the ball in the first half but really we did not do that last year either, we did not score much in the first half and that is why we had a lot of big come back wins. There are some legitimate concerns that our offense can not score/move the ball against anything but the prevent but that is hard to prove, what is easy to prove is that our defense has played worse this season while our offense is more or less the same.
If you guys have ever read any of my fan post you know that I have a hard-on for advance statistics and I really love Football Outsiders which normalizes the performance to the opponents to create a value for each team that basically equates how well they did against the opponent to how much better they were than an average team. If we take a jog over to FO we can see that last year the Lions were 11th in overall DVOA, which means we were the second to worse team in the play offs. This makes sense, its hard to say we were better than anyone in the playoffs other than the Broncos last year. When we look at the Offensive numbers we see offense was 10th while the Defense was 9th! And special teams brought up the rear with a stinker of being 29th.
We can see that last year our defense performed really well. Why? We got a lot of turnovers and turned them into points, is basically the reason. We were actually one of the best scoring defenses last year but that sort of scoring production from a defense is unsustainable. (You don't believe me? Watch next year when Chicago does nothing close to what it has done this year) So we expected some sort of defensive drop but the actual drop from last year to this year has been perspicuous. We went from 9th last year all the way down to 24th this year. And this was before we got smoked by the Vikings lethargic offense. While everyone wants to say that our defense has kept us in and the offense has failed the truth has been we have really just faced extremely sucky offenses and thats why the defense has "kept us in it." Where as the offense has faced some extremely good defenses and done consistently well against them... at least in the second half. Quick list offenses we played in the bottom half of the FO offensive rankings, CHI, MIN, PHI, JAC, TEN, and STL. With Seattle being barely in top half and the split of their home to away makes them one of the worst offenses in the league on the road. Oddly enough the Niners are the only "good" offense we have played all season. Where as our offense has faced 5 teams in the top half of the league. Though it should be pointed out that MIN had been in the top half all season up until this past week.
I know its trendy to pick of the offense and they deserve some blame but in reality they are what they were last year and we really should not have expected anything different. On the other hand we should have expect the defense to drop some because turnovers are so unpredictable but this large of a drop should not have been expected and frankly is terrible. We are lucky that we have played very poor offenses so far this season, unfortunately for us the Pack, Atlanta, and Houston are pretty good at playing offense.