When Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 9 for almost the entire rest of the season, the NFC North became fair game for everybody else. The Lions had a wild year, but they put it together to dominate Green Bay 40-10 in Week 13; the win put them at 7-5, in first place and in control of their own playoff destiny. Unfortunately that would be the last game they would win. The Lions lost the next four by an average of just five points per game. The problems came down to an unbalanced offense, nimble pass defense, and completely dead pass rush that came up with just 23 sacks, last in the NFC. QB Matt Stafford (4,650 pass yds, 29 TDs) set a career high in interceptions with 19 and at times looked more desperate than ever. Reggie Bush (1,006 yards, 4.5 yds/carry) finally provided Detroit with reliable production from a running back, but it came down to it the Lions were overly pass-happy as usual. Bush couldn’t muster 95 rushing yards in any of those last four games. Despite the late-season struggles, the Lions are still undoubtedly an offensive-focused team. It’ll only get easier for Calvin Johnson (84 rec, 1,492 rec yards, 12 TDs) now too as the signing of Golden Tate (898 rec yards) finally provides Johnson with insurance to take some defenders off him. They also have a great pair of tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria (7 TDs). Which makes it odd that they would use their valuable first-round draft pick on another tight end, UNC’s Eric Ebron.
There’s really no excuse for Stafford to continue to struggle so much, but even if he doesn’t who knows if the offense can keep up with the defense. Rookie Ezekiel Ansah led the team in sacks with eight in his rookie year but Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh combined for only 11.5. Then they lost DE Willie Young to division rival Chicago. It seems the only impact defensive additions will be free agent signee safety James Ihedigbo from Baltimore and second-round pick Kyle Van Noy, a linebacker. If Stafford can control the turnovers, though, the Lions should be one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. They can also take a page out of the Packers book by winning games through scoring a ton of points with just a mediocre defense, making plays more often than not. That doesn’t require a shutdown defense but it does require the team to play as one. Chemistry and morale issues that have plagued this team recently need to be put in the past. And that’s where new coach Jim Caldwell comes in. Caldwell has led successful teams in Indy before and he needs to use that experience here. It’s trendy to hire coaches with no prior NFL head coaching experience right now, but it was an even smarter move for the Lions to hire the proven guy. The fan base has been waiting for the team to put it all together. Get your Detroit Lions Tickets today from Gold Coast Tickets!