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Friday open thread: Who is most at fault for the Lions' Thanksgiving loss?

There are a lot of options to choose from.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are 0-10-1 on the season and are coming off their third walk-off field goal loss of the season. Make no mistake, the Lions have been in games late several times this season, but their lack of ability to close out a game has kept them from winning a game all year.

While the effort from the players is present, there are still several instances of the Lions shooting themselves in the foot and costing them opportunities. So that brings us to the question of the day:

Who is most at fault for the Lions’ Thanksgiving loss?

Let’s take a look at the most egregious of missteps the Lions had on Thursday.

Offense - Lack of execution, failed to achieve first downs

While Jared Goff was efficient (21 of 25 for 171 yards and two touchdowns) he only averaged 6.8 yards per pass and his check-downs often resulted in plays that ended up short of the sticks. The Lions only achieved 13 first downs on the day, and there was a stretch from the middle of the second quarter to the end of the third, where they were held without a first down entirely.

Offensive line - Holding and false start penalties

The Lions had 10 penalties on the day, but it felt more like 100. It was the doubling and tripling up of penalties on back-to-back-to-back plays that was mind-boggling. Twice the Lions found themselves in third-and-32. Twice.

Dan Campbell - Lack of creativity on offense, time out debacle at the end

A lot of the offensive stagnation was due to Goff checking down his passes, but there is a lot of blame that can be assigned to Dan Campbell and his offensive play calling choices.

Then there is the double timeout debacle at the end of the game. The Lions were facing the clock as much as they were facing the Chicago Bears late in the game and Campbell attempted to save a touchdown by calling a timeout. The problem was you can’t do that in the NFL after calling a timeout on the previous play. That put the Bears in third and manageable, allowing for an easy first down, and an eventual clock draining two minutes of kneel-downs, followed by the game-winning field goal.

It obviously would have served the Lions better if he didn’t call the timeout. But even if they allowed a touchdown, it still wouldn’t have been the end of the world because they would have gotten the ball back with just under two minutes, and two timeouts in their pockets. Not ideal, mind you, but better than the result.

Aaron Glenn - Off coverage on third and short late

Speaking of the late-game third and manageable. Even after Campbell’s timeout bungle put them in a bad spot, Glenn’s play call was the nail in the coffin. With a critical third-and-4, once again, the Lions guarded the end zone instead of the first down with ridiculously far off coverage, giving the Bears an easy first down and eventually the game.

Glenn has been fantastic of late, but this was an opportunity to help the team overcome a mistake, and instead, he compiled it.

Defense - Allowing an 8 and a half minute drive to close the game

The Lions were up one point with eight and a half minutes to play and Chicago was 79 yards away from the end zone. The Bears methodically picked their way down the field, achieving seven first downs on their final drive. Yes, they were gassed, but no one stepped up to make a needed play.

Front-seven - Lack of pressure

Levi Onwuzurike recorded his first career sack, impressively leveraging and overpowering his way to the quarterback. Outside of that, Bears quarterback Andy Dalton had way too long to survey the field and complete his throws. The Lions got creative by deploying three edge rushers on the field at the same time but the end result was the same. The lack of pressure led to sustained drives and an eventual Bears’ win.

My answer: Campbell

Since taking over play-calling duties, Campbell’s focus on the rest of the elements of being a head coach has suffered. If the offense was significantly better since the change and there was something to show for it, I would understand the move, but the offense is only marginally better and other aspects of his job have declined. It’s hard enough being a head coach in this league, but taking on a brand new job of play calling as well seems too much. Campbell should examine his role over the extended week to see if there is a way of lightening his load.

Your turn. Vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments.


Who is most at fault for the Lions’ Thanksgiving loss?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    (262 votes)
  • 14%
    Offensive line
    (269 votes)
  • 63%
    Dan Campbell
    (1160 votes)
  • 2%
    (52 votes)
  • 2%
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    Aaron Glenn
    (37 votes)
1825 votes total Vote Now

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