In true Detroit Lions fashion, the 2017 season has already been a roller coaster. After a near 4-0 start, the Lions have crashed back to reality and enter their Week 7 bye at a disappointing 3-3 record. While the Lions had promising wins against the Giants, Cardinals and Vikings, they have looked outclassed by some of the best teams the NFC has to offer: the Panthers, Falcons and Saints.
While 3-3 isn’t all that surprising of a record considering where preseason expectations were for this team, the path to .500 has been shocking and puzzling at times. Whether it’s the occasional fantastic defensive performances or the complete shutdown of what was supposed to be a dynamic offense, this team seems to baffle at every turn.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Through six weeks in the 2017 season, what has been the biggest surprise for the Detroit Lions?
My answer: The offensive struggles has to be the biggest surprise to me. The problems are easy to understand: the injuries and lack of talent on the offensive line has left Detroit without a running game, yet again, and Matthew Stafford is running for his literal life. But these familiar problems were seemingly addressed in the offseason and this was supposed to be a breakout year for the Lions’ offense.
Detroit, for the second offseason in a row, invested heavily in their offensive line. This time, they threw a ton of money at Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang. Those two have been more than adequate, but the rest of the line has failed completely.
And the results are shockingly bad. The Lions are averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt (26th), 3.5 yards per carry (26th) and have been sacked 23 times (dead last).
I mean, look at this (actually, don’t. Look away):
Matthew Stafford has fallen all the way to 29th per PFF. The guys right in front of him: Siemian, Trubisky, Flacco, Glennon, Bortles, Hoyer— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) October 16, 2017
Stafford’s season started out so promisingly, but everything has seemingly fallen apart in the past four games. Look at these splits:
Weeks 1-2: 71.0 comp. %, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 6.7 Y/A, 114.6 passer rating
Week 3-6: 56.5 comp. %, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 6.2 Y/A, 79.6 passer rating
Hopefully, when health returns to the offensive line, so will MVP-level Stafford, but some of these problems run deeper. Eric Ebron’s career in Detroit seems likely over, Lions receivers continue to struggle to get open, and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has yet to put together a full-game, successful gameplan.
There’s a lot of work to do on this offense and I have to say, I’m shocked by how bad it has been lately.