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What are the Detroit Lions missing?

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What is it going to take to get the Lions back on track?

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What’s going on with this Lions team? It was a mere two weeks ago when the Lions were 3-1 and just a crazy rule away from being 4-0. The Lions were at the top of the league. Multiple analysts had the Lions pegged as a top five team. Some even thought they could go the distance. A lot can happen in two weeks.

Here we are going into the bye week and the questions surrounding the Lions have grown. Questions like: Why can’t the Lions offense get into gear? Why has Matthew Stafford been sacked 17 times in the past three weeks? Why can’t the Lions run the ball no matter how hard they try? What happened to this great defense the Lions started the year off with?

Today I want to drop a few options that the Lions can use over the next two weeks to get this team back on the right track.

Maybe it’s time to start making some trades

It’s not uncommon for Bob Quinn to make a few phone calls and make a trade. Just last month, the Lions orchestrated two trades. First, they sent Johnson Bademosi to the Patriots. A week earlier they sent former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson to the 49ers.

The one constant with these trades is that the Lions keep making moves to secure their future. They’re consistently getting future draft picks instead of players they can use here and now today.

With the amount of times Stafford has been hit in the last three weeks, and the uncertainty surrounding the return of Taylor Decker, maybe the Lions should gauge the trade market on offensive linemen, specifically at left tackle. The Lions did pull Greg Robinson early against the Saints. Though he eventually came back, he suffered an injury that would take him out of the game for good.

Why not call a team like Cleveland and try to pry Joe Thomas away? Yeah, it’s a long shot, but make a call anyways. Maybe even call Pittsburgh and see what they want for wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is reportedly requesting a trade. Inquiring never hurt anyone.

Take a chance in the open market

There is a former Pro Bowl left tackle in Branden Albert who is just floating around unsigned because teams are worried about whether or not he wanted to play in Jacksonville. The guy clearly wants to play football. This should be a no brainer for somebody. It appears the Seahawks are currently courting him, but why not the Lions?

Why not try to win on a free agent like NaVorro Bowman? Yeah the guy just got cut in the middle of October, but the Lions are missing Paul Worrilow and relying on a rookie to be their play-maker. Not that Jarrad hasn’t handled it well. He has been great, but this team needs all the help it can get.

Why hasn’t anyone called Jared Odrick? I wrote about the Lions looking into him after Kerry Hyder went down. Here we are approaching Week 7, and the Lions pass rush is still a problem. Not to mention Haloti Ngata is now likely out for the season.

The Lions need a guy who is healthy and has a history of versatility and the ability to get to the quarterback. Odrick is that guy.

Maybe there are some staffing moves that need to be made

I’m a big fan of Jim Bob Cooter, but has the power of Jim Bob worn off? The Lions offense has been a constant mystery all season long. They have had to deal with injuries in the trenches, and that has a little to do with it. But the play calling has still been uncharacteristically bad.

The Lions have completely abandoned the up-tempo offense that made Jim Bob a name is this game and have gone in more of a Joe Lombardi slow developing, down field type of offense. This is why the aforementioned Lombardi no longer works in Detroit.

It seems so simple watching from the couch. If you’re having trouble keeping your quarterback upright, get the ball out of his hands. Utilize Theo Riddick more often. You have the best receiver in the league at yards after the catch in Golden Tate, but the Lions don’t target him nearly as much as they should.

Why haven’t the Lions changed up their approach in the run game? Part of the problem is the predictability. You know the Lions are going to try to run on first and second down. You know that their entire MO is to get to the outside. Why do this six weeks in a row? If I can see it, and I’m just a guy that writes about football, there’s no doubt the guys that play or coach the game can see it clear as day.

I made some mention of this in Sunday’s What Just Happened piece. I’m not saying it’s time to fire anyone. What I’m suggesting is a slight rework of the playbook or even the possibility of having Jim Caldwell call the offensive plays. This guy is a Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator after all.

I’m not totally sure what the Lions can do over the next weeks, but it’s time to do something. With the NFC North and, quite frankly, the entire NFL as wide open as it is right now, 3-3 is not the end of the world. This team still has plenty of football to play and are far from being eliminated from playoff contention. It’s time to get these things fixed.