Detroit’s lost season: What’s wrong with the Lions?
The Detroit Lions entered the 2015-2016 season with high expectations, but thus far they have been very disappointing. Detroit is off to a 1-5 start, and criticism is starting to mount.
The Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection was supposed to lead a high-powered offense, but a struggling offensive line and a scheme change have turned the offense pedestrian. Detroit has only reached the 20 point mark twice through their first four games. Johnson is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and demands a consistent double team, but the supporting cast has not been producing. Stafford has already thrown nine interceptions, and he is receiving no help from a rushing attack that ranks dead last in the league in yards per game.
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is steering the Detroit offense away from their strength. Stafford has always been at his most effective when he is given the freedom to improvise and take shots deep down the field. The new system is much more focused on screens, quick passes, and getting the ball out of Stafford’s hands as quickly as possible. This has helped keep the quarterback upright after concerns arose over the number of hits the quarterback has taken this season, but the offense packs almost no punch.
— Detroit News 360 (@DetroitNews360) October 6, 2015
The Lion’s defense has struggled so far this season without their two star defensive tackles. The off-season loss of former first round picks Nick Fairly and Ndamukong Suh was supposed eliminate distractions for a defense that has consistently been at the top of the league in penalty yards. No one in Detroit misses Suh’s antics both on and off the field, but they certainly miss his presence along the defensive line. The Lion’s defensive line has transformed from one of the most feared units in the league to a league average unit.
Detroit’s window with its current core group of players is probably closed. Stafford seems to have reached his ceiling as an above average but not great quarterback. Calvin Johnson is at the tail end of his prime and has been surpassed by younger receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones. The team lacks a defensive identity and will likely need to rebuild itself through the draft. 2015 is a lost cause for the Lion’s organization, and their focus should shift from winning now to building for the future.
Can Detroit figure out a way to salvage their season or have they dug themselves too deep of a hole? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4