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We can sit here and say that the Lions have made progress. We can point to the close losses and the improved defensive line and the improved offensive play calling. But 2-8 is 2-8. And 26 losses in a row on the road is just that: 26 losses in a row on the road. Words are so tired at this point. As long as the losing continues, words are useless.
Let’s just state the facts.
• In consecutive weeks, the Lions lost to an 0-8 team and a 2-7 team. How are you making progress when you essentially serve as a homecoming opponent for struggling teams?
• The Lions have committed at least 10 penalties in five of their last six games. Even if you want to take away Ndamukong Suh's “horse collar” penalty the officials clearly blew, that’s still an alarming number. I have no doubt that Schwartz and the coaching staff are working to eliminate the ugly trend. But how are you making progress when nothing improves?
• The running game continues to be nonexistent. They ran the ball 20 times Sunday for 75 yards against a defense that came into the game allowing more than 117 yards per game (22nd in the NFL). Sure, Kevin Smith is out, and Jahvid Best is hobbled. But how are you making progress when you can't establish a running game against some of the worst defenses in the league?
• Bryant Johnson was in street clothes Sunday, and he wasn’t hurt. How are you making progress when you’re paying a guy $3.1 million, and he's not even good enough play for a team that doesn’t have a good option for a No. 3 receiver?
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Speaking of Belichick, Jim Schwartz is one of his eight former assistants who have become NFL head coaches. Schwartz broke down film and prepared scouting reports for Belichick in Cleveland in 1993-95. Last year, Belichick said "Schwartzie" was "probably the smartest" assistant the Browns had. Let's see if Schwartzie can prove him right Thursday.
Kind of an ugly mood there judging from the comment section, but I guess that's to be expected when your team is 2-8 and you haven't been to the playoffs in eleven years. Anyways, found this one comment there that may be a big reason for their lack of success:
With a month of preseason to prepare those loveble losers only committed an average of 8 penalties a game for the first 3 weeks. Since then, they have committed less than ten penalties only once! With 3 days to prepare, could the Lions be seeking an all-time NFL record for the number of yellow flags? GO LIONS...You can do it
"Jahvid's been struggling with his toe since the Minnesota game," coach Jim Schwartz said. "And it's been something that has, rather than progressively get better, it's been one of those ones that's progressively hindered him more and more. We tried to stop that slide and tried to limit his play time, get him in certain packages."
Best suffered a sprained left toe in the opener at Chicago and a sprained right big toe in Week 3 against the Vikings. He said the injuries "take turns" affecting his play.
"Some days I feel good and some days I just have bad days," Best said. "In the pregame warm-ups I was feeling pretty good, but it just ended up not being so good."
The Lions (2-8) have the NFL's 31st-ranked rushing offense and had just 75 yards on 20 carries against the Cowboys.
Best, who hasn't rushed for more than 50 yards since an Oct. 10 win over the Rams, said he expects to play Thursday against the Patriots.
With Best out the Lions went with Maurice Morris at RB; Kevin Smith was placed on IR Saturday.
Then there was this:
Linebacker DeAndre Levy said the Cowboys' 98-yard touchdown drive on their opening possession was fueled in part by a malfunctioning communication system in his helmet.
"Speaker wasn't working, probably for half the plays," Levy said. "Some plays it was completely out. It was just a lot of panic on that first drive."
Coaches call plays on offense and defense through a microphone that feeds directly into the helmet of a select player on each side of the ball.
Levy said he couldn't recall what plays he did not receive from the sideline, or if they led to big gains. Without the radio, he called several plays on his own, piecing together the input he got from the sideline.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "They came out and did the same thing again in the third quarter."
How about letting the refs know? In that situation you notify them and then neither team gets use of the mic-to-helmet communication.
Schwartz had what I thought was an odd choice of words to describe the short week, given the fact the Lions often draft early:
Schwartz, on playing on short rest this week against the Patriots: "Usually we have a 24-hour rule. We can't afford a 24-hour rule right now. Our 24 hours has already passed -- 48 hours has already passed. We're on the clock, and we're getting ready for New England."
Sheesh I have not had time to scout and form any opinions yet ... still savoring yesterday.
Yeah, I'm with you. Just thought it might be a nice change of pace from another "Pats defense sucks" thread.
Why the Lions every year ... this tradition needs to be changed.
Good question. Maybe the networks figure they have a captive audience and are going to get good ratings regardless of who is playing on Thanksgiving - which saves at least one better team for a Sunday game.
It was suggested Best be shut down during the week, giving him an extra 10 days to get healthy for the game Thursday against New England. Schwartz shot that down, saying the Lions were trying to win in Dallas.
"If we didn't think he could help us on Sunday, we wouldn't play him," Schwartz said.
Now it appears Best is a long shot to be ready to play Thursday.
"The kind of person I am, I never want to sit down," Best said. "I always want to be in there. I am just going to get in the training room and hope for the best."
On the other hand, I hope Dan Koppen gets some extra help Thursday.
I really don't want to see this good a performance against the Pats:
Ndamukong Suh was an extremely loud presence on the field.
The rookie defensive tackle led the Lions with eight tackles. He shared a sack with Lawrence Jackson. He had at least one hit on quarterback Jon Kitna. He earned the Lions a safety when he was held in the end zone by veteran Leonard Davis.
I'm guessing there will be some comparisons between Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Pettigrew leading up to or during the game. Pettigrew had 8 catches for 75 yards Sunday against the Cowboys, and now has 50 receptions for 487 yards and 3 touchdowns this year.
There aren't many times when a football team can benefit from having its routine interrupted with a short week of preparation for a game on Thursday.
This is one of those weeks for the Lions.
For where they are, and what they've done and haven't done in the last month, hosting the New England Patriots in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on Thursday comes at a good time. Playing a perennial Super Bowl contender on national television -- and with Kid Rock performing at halftime -- should add a jolt of inspiration to a Lions team that has had its goals shattered in a three-game losing streak.
The column above also has an interesting look at the discrepancy between the way the league schedules games leading up to the Thanksgiving game for the Lions and Cowboys, as well as discrepancies on fines for late hits.
The New England Patriots versus the Detroit Lions: It happens every four years.
The Patriots and Lions last got together on Dec. 3, 2006, blasts from the past like Artrell Hawkins (10 tackles), Mike Vrabel (a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions), Rosevelt Colvin (two sacks, one a strip sack of Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna) and Reche Caldwell (eight receptions for 112 yards) playing lead roles in New England’s 28-21 win at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots last traveled to Ford Field four years before, arriving as Thanksgiving Day guests of the Lions for a Nov. 28, 2002, game that saw Troy Brown haul in 10 passes from Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi return a first-quarter interception of a Joey Harrington pass 27 yards for a touchdown, and the hosts limited to four Jason Hanson field goals in a 20-12 loss to New England.
The Lions have a couple of advantages over New England. For one thing, they don’t have to travel and can use Wednesday as a preparation day at their facility. For another, the Thanksgiving game is a traditional part of their schedule.
“It’s great to be in the routine every year,” said Belichick, who worked as an assistant coach in Detroit in the mid-1970s. “It’s a game that you knew every year was your game, that you were going to be playing at home and you were going to be playing at [12:30]. Whatever the weekly routine and getting ready for it — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — it’s the same thing you did last year. It’s something you were comfortable with and looking forward to”
But Detroit has another significant advantage. Belichick and Tom Brady are the same coach and quarterback the Lions faced at Gillette Stadium in 2006 and in a Thanksgiving game at Ford Field in 2002. Detroit, on the other hand, has undergone almost a complete turnover since the Patriots last played them. The Lions’ best running back is a rookie. Their best wide receiver is in his fourth season. Even journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill has never thrown a pass in a game against the Pats.
The Lions’ best defensive player — nose tackle Ndamukong Suh — not only is just a rookie, but he was so highly touted coming out of college and went so high in the draft that the Patriots never had a shot at him and likely didn’t heavily scout him.
MacPherson notes that the Lions coaching staff includes a couple of former Pats: Shawn Jefferson and Sam Gash.
In order to cram as much preparation into the short week as possible, the Patriots on Monday skimmed through what normally would have been a thorough breakdown of Sunday’s game against the Colts. They haven’t had a chance to go too far back through the Lions’ season, however.
“There’s a lot coming at you, and you’ve got to squeeze a lot in when you normally have the extra couple of days,” Light said. “We started on it today, and we’ll continue to build the little things — the red area, third down, all that stuff — come tomorrow.”
Said linebacker Gary Guyton: “We’re just trying to come in and watch film as much as we can and pick up on any habits, any tendencies that we can. … You always want to come in and correct the things you want to do. But our main focus right now is the Lions.”
Any specific game-planning the Patriots do for the Lions will have to come in only one or two areas rather than every area — throwing a wrinkle into their pass coverage, for example, or trying something new in the run game. There just isn’t time to do everything they otherwise might.
“You have to pick your spots,” Belichick said. “If you want to try and do something that is maybe a little bit different and specific for them, you might have to give it up somewhere else. I don’t think you can do it in all areas. I think you have to pick your spots. You can maybe do a couple of things, a couple of plays, but it’s not an infinite number. You just can’t practice it.”