For the last week, the message was simple. The Detroit Lions still had a chance at the playoffs, no matter how faint, fans were told by players and coaches alike. All the team would have to do would be win out and find some help along the way. It turns out, as usual, winning was the hardest part.
Typically and predictably, the Lions turned in another clunker with their backs against the wall. The New York Giants, behind a late interception return for a touchdown by Will Hill, tied a game Detroit had taken control of despite rampant sloppiness. The crowd booed, then serenaded Matthew Stafford with more raspberries after Josh Brown's 45 yard field goal sailed through the uprights to officially sink the Lions' ship. The 2013 season was done, and The Hunt Report attempts to pick up more pieces.
Jim Schwartz Should Be As Good As Fired. All week Schwartz talked about controlling the way the Lions played and the mindset of his team. Instead of coming out charged up, the Lions made the same exact errors, played passive and fell apart. Matthew Stafford threw interceptions, penalties stalled the team, the offense never got going against a team they should have dominated and as a result, the team lost. Schwartz also further embarrassed himself along the way by noticeably cursing at fan taunts in the fourth quarter. Thanks to a season full of pitiful efforts and years of repeated errors, Schwartz should be finished in Detroit. A search for an established coach with a new mentality should be brought in as soon as the season ends.
Matthew Stafford Needs A Makeover. Stafford needs to seek out an offseason session with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield this offseason. His footwork in the pocket remains below average, and as a result, Stafford routinely makes the big mistake or sails on throws. Sunday, his errant throw help cost the Lions another game and put points on the board for the Giants in a close game. Not only does Stafford need to work on fundamentals, he needs to work on the mental aspect of the game, and understand the situations to make different throws. Detroit has made a big investment in their quarterback, and either he or the team must help get him right in order to make that investment look sound.
The Lion Players Lack Pride. Basic, competitive spirit would have required Detroit to put up a fight on Sunday, a game that could have helped Detroit get into the playoffs or keep the dream alive. Instead, the Lions chose to blame the fans who booed them leading up to overtime for creating bad morale. Excuses, excuses. The Lions players should be ashamed that they had less fight than a Giants team whose season was already over, and equally as ashamed to use the fan taunts as a flimsy crutch for their bad play. To quiet the fans, they should have played cleaner, harder football. Period. The team may have gotten the coach they vocally supported canned with their lazy, complacent play.
Ziggy Ansah Is The Rookie Of The Year. Ansah has had a great season, and he collected hi eighth sack on Sunday, which is a team high. At times, he has looked like perhaps the most talented pure pass rusher on the field. Martin Mayhew and company may have hit a defensive home run in Ansah, who should grow into his frame further and continue to learn the game. If there was one positive from a lost season, the play of Ansah might have been it.
Don't Blame The Defense. Much like Monday night, the offense was to blame for not having the consistency to put the Giants away. 207 passing yards against a normally porous Giants' defense wasn't going to get the job done. The Lions defenders made enough plays to win, but the offense, with untimely turnovers and no explosion put them in horrible spots all night. It was the same story on Sunday. The defense did make plenty of mistakes, but the Lions were in a position to win and the offense, for all intents and purposes, vomited on the field.
Lions? In addition to Ansah, Jeremy Ross continues to look like a difference maker at kick returner, and he ripped off a few more solid returns on Sunday. Joique Bell ran hard and was tough.
Lambs? Stafford was horrible again, Reggie Bush had another fumble, and the coaching was terrible. That pretty much sums everything up.
Stat Of The Day: 8:02, the advantage the Lions had over the Giants in time of possession. How does a team with a nearly 10 minute advantage still manage to lose a game? Sloppiness and lack of offensive detail, plain and simple. That speaks to shortcomings in coaching and mindset from Scott Linehan down to the players.
What About The Five Things? Before this pre-holiday game, we said it would be wise to watch the turnover battle. The Giants won 3-2, and used that to win the game. Another pitiful start proved Detroit wasn't mentally ready, and Calvin Johnson looked to be hurting an non-effective despite a few catches. Rueben Randle didn't have a great game, and Jim Schwartz didn't help himself with another poor coaching afternoon.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions close out the 2013 season by traveling to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in the Metrodome finale. The game starts at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox.
The "Later" Limerick:
2013 is unofficially done
The Lions provided no holiday fun
Another usual loss,
This one's also on the boss
Jim Schwartz is getting shun
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