Now that we got all of the quarterback frustrations out, let's dig a little deeper into the Detroit Lions' offensive problems. Even our own Chris Lemieux would admit that while Matthew Stafford has his own set of problems, the Lions' troubles on offense run much deeper than his poor AY/A. With problems as complicated and severe as Detroit's scoring issues, there's rarely one culprit dragging the whole team down. As fans, we like to find one scapegoat, because that points to an easy solution. Get rid of the scapegoat, get rid of the problem. Unfortunately, life nor football works that way. So let's spread the blame around.
Offensive line - Blame percentage: 40 percent
The offensive line problems have been well-documented but they absolutely cannot be overstated. It is awful. Like, really really really really awful. Pro Football Focus thinks they're the worst in the league. Football Outsiders ranks them 31st. The Lions rank last in every possible rushing statistic this season and the offensive line is solely to blame. Just take a look at commentor Morgado01's excellent breakdown of the Lions running game against the Cardinals.
Pass protection has been just as awful. Stafford is dealing with the worst offensive line in his career. Don't believe me? Check it out:
What's wrong with Matthew Stafford? Starts here: pic.twitter.com/ZHb2uUAayd— Neil Hornsby (@PFF_Neil) September 28, 2015
But maybe you're more of a visual guy and not a stats guy. Well here's a quick visual recap of how the offensive line has played through five weeks:
Cornelius Lucas, Lions RT and potential starter in week 3 vs Von Miller pic.twitter.com/TYe1zj6NhI— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 23, 2015
Cornelius Lucas may start this Sunday vs Von Miller. If so this becomes must watch TV pic.twitter.com/BOeGnKNFNi— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 23, 2015
Had enough? Because I could literally post another two dozen of these.
The entire success of the offense relies on a solid running game and good pass protection. The Lions don't have anything resembling either, and it's because the offensive line is terrible.
Joe Lombardi - Blame Percentage: 30 percent
I don't like blaming coaches. We don't see what they do, and we have no idea of exactly what they're doing wrong. We just see poor results and make a choice of whether to blame the coaches or the players. But there comes a point in which you have no other choice but to at least partially blame the coaches.
The defense recognizing a play call from the offense is not an uncommon situation. It happens quite often, actually. But when there's accusations that come out each and every week that the defense knows exactly what's coming at them, something is going wrong with gameplanning. I understand that a poor (very very very very poor) offensive line severely limits your options both as a play-caller and a game-planner, but good coaches adjust. We haven't seen anything new from this offense since their problems became blatantly obvious, other than a few snaps with a sixth lineman on the field.
Good coordinators adjust their game plan to hide their weaknesses and promote their strengths. Lombardi has done neither.
Jim Caldwell - Blame percentage: 20 percent
While we're blaming coaches, let's not let Caldwell off the hook. He was brought in with an understanding that he would "fix" Stafford and the offense. Caldwell was touted as a quarterback guru, having jump-started the career of Peyton Manning and putting Joe Flacco back on the elite map. But those were just myths.
With Peyton, you can very much play the chicken or egg game. While Manning's numbers certainly improved during Caldwell's time as quarterbacks coach, they were already pretty high before his arrival in 2002 (Manning posted a passer rating of 90.7, 94.7 and 84.1 in the three years leading up to Caldwell's hire). Was Manning set to take the next step in career without Caldwell? It's impossible to know.
What we do know is what happened in Baltimore when Caldwell became offensive coordinator. He was promoted to the position toward the end of the 2012 season. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Pretty impressive, right? So how did Caldwell follow up his performance as his first full year as offensive coordinator? Um...not well.
I made this chart after last season to point out how Caldwell tanked the Ravens offense in his one year as coordinator. The scariest part of that chart is how quickly the Ravens' offense bounced back after Caldwell's departure. The impact is pretty clear here. Now let's check in on how the Lions' offense has done under Caldwell:
Yikes. Rushing yards, yards per carry and passer rating have all plummeted to 32nd in the league; dead last. Is it fair to put this on Caldwell? Hard to say. But when a bad offense continually follows him around the league, you have to start questioning his decisions. He, after all, was the one who hired Lombardi.
Matthew Stafford - Blame percentage: 10 percent
I won't beat this subject to death, as we did that plenty on Tuesday, but let me just say this, Stafford has not played as well as anyone has expected of him. He hasn't had any help from the three culprits above, but he hasn't done anything to render them moot, either. Look at a play like this:
In case you forgot, this is how much open field Tim Wright had on the first Stafford interception: pic.twitter.com/IkUpp6li0b— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) October 13, 2015
There is no reason a play like this should result in anything less than a 20 yard gain. Instead, Stafford's lob came up short and the ball was intercepted.
Stafford's progression has been halted, and whether that's a result of poor coaching, poor offensive line play or a combination of the two, Matthew has not been able to rise above. That's something that great quarterbacks can do. Right now, Stafford is not a great quarterback. And this offense is not a good offense.