Time For a Big Change in Detroit
As exciting as those comebacks in the beginning of the 2011 campaign were, they were also indications that the Lions were still a young team that hadn’t learned to play 60 minutes of football. Well it’s been over a year now, and the team is still similarly unable to do so.
In their first 6 games of the season, the Lions scored only 1 first half touchdown. This is the team with the league’s most dangerous endzone threat and possibly the league’s strongest throwing arm, but only once in their first 6 games this year did they find pay dirt in the first half of a game. Despite ranking 2nd in the NFL in total yards, the Lions are 11th in scoring.
Then in the last three games, the Lions were able to come out of the gate rather strong, but just couldn’t put that finishing touch on the game. Against the Packers, they couldn’t punch the ball in for what would have been a double-digit lead with under 5 minutes to go and settled for a field goal. Against the Texans in overtime, Schwartz refused to put the ball in Stafford’s hands once the team was inside Houston’s 30. Despite a running game that is notoriously one of the league’s worst, despite putting up over 400 passing yards on the day, despite the fact that the Texans had absolutely no response to Calvin and Broyles who both put up over 120 yards as Houston lacked their top corner Jonathan Joseph, Schwartz chose to go with a pair of rushing plays that went nowhere and then felt safe rolling the dice on the usually dependable Jason Hanson. A clutch 47-yarder is a kick that’s good nine times out of ten with Hanson’s leg, but this happened to be that one unlucky day unfortunately. Overall, it would have been nice to get him a few more yards, especially since he only missed by a hair.
Then, as if it were just beating a dead horse, the team went out and did almost the exact same thing against the Colts this weekend. They did everything they needed to do to win the game, except put that final nail in the coffin.
Okay, so this section ended up being a little longer, but I had a lot of frustration to get out, so thanks for sticking with me. Now is it entirely Schwartz’s fault the team just lost three straight games they quite easily could have won? Of course not. Part of the blame goes to the players themselves and maybe even Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan. But it’s Schwartz’s responsibility to make sure his offensive coach and his players are sticking to the game plan, and the game plan all season has lacked strength and has never been able to come through when the team really needed it.
Anyone can beat anyone on any given day, but what really matters is which team actually does get that victory, which team can actually go all 60 minutes, and in 3-plus years as the Lions head coach, Schwartz hasn’t been able to prove he can do that with his team.
It’s time for the Lions to bring in a coach with a track record of winning, a coach that won’t accept his team to finish as one of the most penalized teams in the league three years in a row, or won’t let his defense give up big play after big play. The list of candidates may not be long, but if the Gruden’s or Dungy’s or Cowher’s of the world are looking to get back on the sidelines, the Lions would be foolish to pass it up.