All of us Detroit fans have endured years of agony only to be rewarded every now and then. The lack of consistency has plagued the franchise for years, most notably going 0-16 in 2008, then making the playoffs just three years later in 2011, just to return to 4-12 the following year. We have seen that inconsistency throughout this year as well, trailing in the 4th quarter in 15 of our 16 games. Watching them this season has given me a literal headache at times.
Yet somehow, we have managed 9 wins and are in the playoffs. If you would have told me that before the season, I probably would’ve bet you were kidding. If you would have told me that after we started 1-3 with losses to the Bears and Titans, I would have checked you into the nearest psych ward. The last three weeks couldn’t have gone much worse for the Lions. Three weeks ago, Detroit was in line for the 2nd seed and a first round bye. Three games go by… three losses. With the loss to the Packers on SNF, the Lions “clinched” the 6th seed at 9-7. My how things can change. They will travel to Seattle and take on Russel Wilson and company. That is a tall task. The last three weeks Detroit played like crapola with a side of crap. Stafford looked erratic on many throws, the line let up quite a bit of pressure, we had drops, missed FG’s, missed tackles and it doesn’t help when the refs seem to favor the other team every single week (Refs alone have probably taken years off my life). But simply put, they need to play if better if they want any hope of beating Seattle at CenturyLink Field.
They need to make plays. Aaron Rodgers, Das Prescott and OBJ all made key plays at critical moments in the past three weeks. The number of plays the Lion’s have made over that time frame is drastically fewer. They need to make tackles and contain the QB, especially with the matchup against Russel Wilson next week. Rodgers, over his career, and Wilson, last year, burned us by extending plays with their feet. We saw them all year come up with big turnovers, critical 3rd downs and clutch TD drives. Now, we see the opposite. I know it’s there, we have all seen it, it is just frustrating that they didn’t bring it when we needed it most.
But here are the positives going forward. I like the Seattle matchup. Seattle has struggled running the ball and their defense hasn’t been the same without Earl Thomas. Besides, after Detroit, no other playoff team has played worse the last four weeks.
Detroit has finally found some semblance of a running game with Zach Zenner. Our line has blocked very well and Jim Bob Cooter and his running scheme seems to fit Zenner very well. We should also get Travis Swanson and Riley Rieff back next weekend and that will play a huge role in protecting Stafford.
Caldwell needs to light a fire in his guys. Detroit has all the makings to be a such a dangerous playoff team. They have playmakers in Tate, Ebron and Boldin. They have a running game now. Our kicker can make anything inside of 60 yards. And most importantly they have shown that they are never out of a game. It’s inches. It’s fighting for an extra yard. It’s making a tackle for a one or two yard gain instead of a four or five yard game. It’s making the catch. Things that they haven’t executed on the past few weeks. It is a state of mind. Caldwell is not to blame for struggles, but he has to be the one to fix them and get them ready to compete for the Super Bowl. The players gave him so much credit when they were coming back and winning all those games. They said it started with Caldwell’s belief and demeanor. Well, it needs to start their again, he has to get them fired up.
I love my Lions and that is something that will never change. I see so many “fans” with lost hope and some saying that we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs and it makes me sad. They may be the most frustrating team in the NFL, but boy do they make it fun and it gives me hope. I see the talent and opportunity for success and it’s there. All in all, I think it’s fitting where Detroit is at in their season. The last three games they didn’t have their best, the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor, but guess what? They still have life. Luckily for them, there is a fourth game, a playoff game, on Saturday night. It’s time for them to do what they do best, to comeback. A fourth quarter, a final life, is all they have needed all year. So while the rest of the world sleeps on the Detroit and thinks they’re down for the count….I know they haven’t even started yet.