The Detroit Lions lost to the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 25-21 on Sunday. Here are my three main takeaways from the game:
Reggie Bush's injury issues are a real concern going forward
In Week 1 of the season, Bush suffered injuries to his thumb, hip, groin and knee. That's a lot of wear and tear for one game, and Bush left Sunday's game in Week 2 after taking a helmet to his left knee. Bush is scheduled to have an MRI on his left knee on Monday, and although he may not have been overly worried following Sunday's game, the Lions have to be concerned going forward for two main reasons.
For starters, the fact that Bush has already gotten this banged up is not a good sign. We're only two games into the season and he's already dealt with several ailments and had to leave a game because of a knee injury. He has shown in the recent past that he can be relied upon, but how effective will he be if he's constantly battling to stay healthy?
The other main concern revolves around how bad the Lions' offense was on Sunday when Bush wasn't in the game. This stat says it all:
#Lions had 232 net offensive yards in the first half. Only 90 in the second half with Reggie Bush mostly sidelined.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) September 15, 2013
The Lions just couldn't consistently move the ball with Bush out of the game. I know they've built this offense around having someone like Bush on the field, but they have to be able to survive without him, and they weren't able to on Sunday.
The penalties have to stop
This goes without saying at this point, but the Lions have to be smarter about penalties. They had 8 for 101 yards against the Cardinals, and there were some really costly ones. Willie Young's illegal hands to the face penalty wiped a fumble recovery off the board in the second half, and Bill Bentley's pass interference penalty before Arizona's game-winning touchdown was laughably bad. It's not even a case of taking dumb personal fouls anymore; it's just bad football in key moments. The Lions can only afford to shoot themselves in the foot so many times before their sloppiness comes back to bite them, and it bit them hard in Arizona.
Time for Rashean Mathis to start over Darius Slay
I know Jim Schwartz committed to Slay staying in the starting lineup despite him being benched in Week 1, and I know there are going to be growing pains for a rookie cornerback. That's just what happens. However, Mathis seems to be the safer option at this point for the Lions. They had to "go to the bullpen" much earlier this week, and Mathis played pretty well upon first glance. I think it's time to bring Mathis out of the bullpen and put him in the starting rotation while letting Slay continue to develop on a more situational basis.