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Monday open thread: What was the Lions’ turning point versus the Bears?

A lot of things went wrong.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Same Old Lions. SOL.

It is a perennial phrase used to describe the tribulations associated with the Detroit Lions and their fandom. It represents the raising of expectations, the hope for glory and to rise above the basement of the NFL, and the subsequent dashing of any glimpse of salvation. It is perpetual sadness.

This past Sunday, we witnessed those same old Lions.

In a near duplicate of last year’s collapse versus the Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions fell to the Chicago Bears. Once again entering the fourth quarter with a lead, the wheels fell off the wagon, and Detroit allowed a hapless Mitchell Trubisky and friends to come back and win this game. It was near unfathomable that the Lions would flounder again in such a similar fashion. Then again, same old Lions. Many experienced Lions fans knew disaster was coming. It had the telltale markings of a classic Lions game: a few explosive drives in the middle of the game, then reverting to an archaic run-run-pass strategy.

In structural engineering, buildings are designed to never have a single point of failure. A single failure will not cause a good building to fail. If a building collapses, it will be due to a bevy of simultaneous failures.

What were these points of failure that caused the Lions’ collapse?

  1. Jamie Collins’ ejection. Early on in the game, newly-acquired and highly-touted linebacker Jamie Collins was ejected—rightfully so— for contacting an official. His removal forced the Lions to shift around their linebackers, given the versatility that Collins had. With Trey Flowers banged up and Jeff Okudah inactive, Collins might have been the Lions best defender on paper. Speaking of injuries...
  2. Cornerback injuries. The Lions lost Justin Coleman to injury in the second quarter, a significant blow to a defense already missing Okudah. However, with Desmond Trufant in the fold, they could survive. Until Trufant got hurt, that is. Now with their top three corners unable to play, the Lions were forced to make due with Amani Oruwariye, in probably his first significant action, Darryl Roberts, a castoff fringe starter, and Tony McRae, a bonafide special teamer and nothing more. Even against Trubisky, this is not ideal.
  3. Bad sack. Matthew Stafford took a critical sack in the fourth quarter that pushed them to the edge of field goal range. Akiem Hicks—a large and hard-to-miss individual—was in Stafford’s face, yet the quarterback did not throw the ball away despite the opportunity being present. At the time, the score was 23-13, and any points would be critical to keeping the lead. Instead, the sack puts the field goal in jeopardy. At least Matt Prater is good at long distances.
  4. Missed field goal. Gosh dang it. The sack comes back to haunt the Lions, and it gives the Bears prime real estate to score. Surprise, surprise, the Bears end up converting the short field into a touchdown. Three point game. At least it can’t get worse.
  5. Bad interception. Urgh. After completing the prerequisite run-run needed to complete the run-run-pass philosophy, Stafford makes a poor decision to force a ball in between two defenders, and it gets batted and caught by Kyle Fuller. The Bears now possess the ball in Lions territory, perfect for a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller to take the lead. At least the Lions have time on the clock.
  6. Swift drop. OH COME ON! In true Cardiac Cats fashion, the Lions marched down the field with minimal time remaining. A deep pass to Danny Amendola allows them to set up shop at the Chicago 16-yard line. After a spike, the Lions run a play to near perfection. D’Andre Swift shakes his defender as he runs towards the left side of the goal line. Stafford places the ball beautifully into the arms of Swift, who just needs to turn and step for the game-winning score.

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

What was the turning point versus the Bears?

My answer: The injuries to Coleman and Trufant killed this team. Although the Swift drop literally cost them the game, if Coleman and Trufant were in the game, the Lions likely would not have been in that situation. When the time came for the Bears to mount a comeback, the Lions played more man coverage on defense, yet they lacked the personnel to pull it off. Trubisky picked them apart and made this team look foolish.

The sack and missed field goal are brutal, and the late interception is inexcusable, but I attribute those to a fundamental problem with the coaching philosophy. This team boasted about “Dagger Time,” yet it was during those moments that they fell flat. They were uncreative with their calls. They gelded their offense with a determination to run the ball and unwavering mindset to not throw the ball deep. You have Matthew Stafford, arguably one of the most talented arms in the league, yet you prioritize runs on first or second down when the game is on the line, or opt for mere dump-off passes that Jake Rudock’s noodle arm could make.

You could argue that keeping Matt Patricia was the turning point. However, for a team with no preseason, I think losing two key starters midway through the game hurt the most. But we’ll wait for the rest of the season to play out before giving a final verdict of the coaching staff, despite how tempting it is now.

It can’t get worse... right?

Poll

What was the turning point versus the Bears?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Collins ejection
    (35 votes)
  • 35%
    Cornerback injuries
    (302 votes)
  • 22%
    Bad sack
    (191 votes)
  • 17%
    Missed field goal
    (147 votes)
  • 10%
    Bad interception
    (89 votes)
  • 8%
    Swift drop
    (75 votes)
839 votes total Vote Now