So my prediction of the Lions finally winning out in the desert of Arizona was wrong. Close game, but still wrong. So many of the statistics Detroit has put up in the early season are in the Lions' favor, but they still loss. Why is that?
Well, the first half went pretty decent. We had Bush & Megatron rolling in the pass game. The run game was still pretty weak (a problem they've had during the preseason). The defense had good points and some down points. But the penalties weren't hurting then and the Cards were held to 10 points. Bush getting hit low by the AZ safety, who also went low on Megatron later in the game, started a big issue for us. Also, Pat Edwards got hurt and these things would change the momentum of the game.
Second half comes, and the offense unravels because of our key injuries. The Lions were held to something like 90 yards of offense, which doesn't make sense at all considering the talent we still had. What I pretty much gathered from that game is that Linehan & Schwartz don't have a gameplan in place for the Lions if Calvin Johnson or Reggie Bush gets injured. Instead of getting Joseph Fauria out on the field as probably the playmaker you want out there after Bush & Edwards goes down and moving to some 12 personnel sets, the Lions coaches decide to run a lot of 11 personnel sets to dink & dunk to Pettigrew and Burleson instead of stretching the field. Everyone in the NFL knows Carlos Dansby struggles in coverage, plus some of the AZ safeties. It would have made sense to let Fauria work on those mismatches. But, Linehan opted to run a lot of 11 personnel which allows AZ to run a lot of nickle packages and get their second best coverage DB (Tyronn Mathieu) on the field! That absolutely makes no sense.
And of course on the last play of the game, a 4th & short, instead of 12 personnel, the Lions run 01 personnel, I think, where Joique Bell serves as the 4th WR. Guess who gets open? Joique Bell. Guess who is the first read on the play? Nate Burleson. Guess who's covering him? Tyronn Mathieu. That results in a tackle one yard short of a first down & game over.
The defense continued to hold the Cardinals to many stopped 3rd down conversions the second half. But of course the Lions players decide to turn up the severity of the penalities they incurred. I didn't focus on the Willie Young during the play in which he recovered a fumble after Ezekiel Ansah shot off the line like a lightning bolt to get a sack-fumble on Carson Palmer, but apparently Young was smacking his guy all in the face which resulted in a 15 yard penalty. Then shortly after, Israel Idonije gets a roughing the passer call (I didn't really get to see him make contact because i focused on the pass. Does anyone think it was the proper call?). And of course, Bill Bentley gets two huge Def. P.I. calls this game, the last of which gave the Cards the opportunity to get a TD which they took full advantage of.
Speaking of which, why was Bentley on the field that late anyhow? I thought Mathis was brought in to compete more so with Bentley than Darius Slay. So why is our 2nd round pick not getting the opportunity to learn through trial by fire, when Bentley is giving up the most plays to the other team and the guy who's supposed to replace him in those situations is taking another player's spot? That doesn't make much sense.
The Lions finished with 8 penalties for 101 yards. To give you an idea of how unacceptable that is I'll let you know that the Jets also had 8 penalties in Week 2, but for only 66 yards. Multiple 15 yard penalties and multiple defensive pass interference penalties are killers when the offense isn't rolling for 4 quarters.
If the Lions coaches aren't going to use their depth properly when injuries occur & make better play-calling decisions, then i'm sure a lot of positive predictions people made for a winning Lions season will be busted.