Though fans of the Detroit Lions have watched their team lose in many ways during the 2013 season and though the team had no way to make the playoffs win or lose, Sunday's defeat to the Minnesota Vikings had to leave the worst possible taste in everyone's collective mouth.
The Lions, a team which usually collects yards in spite of turnovers, sputtered in the worst possible way, putting up only 245 yards despite never giving the ball away. The Vikings couldn't do much themselves, but found just enough scoring behind Cordarrelle Patterson's two touchdowns to literally one-up the Lions 14-13 in the Metrodome finale and thrill their fans. The Hunt Report breaks down what was and what's next as the 2013 season comes to a tough end.
A New Offensive Plan Is Needed. Detroit was terrible most of the day on offense, failing to score when they needed to and, worse, failing to sustain any drives. The first half was miserable, with the Lions only putting up 56 total yards. Detroit called far too many short passes, which were confusing given the way they could have broken the game open. That performance, along with the second half drop off overall, is good enough to force Scott Linehan out the door, if not Jim Schwartz. At this point, it's downright tantalizing to think what the Lions could become with a better offensive coordinator, quarterback coach and scheme.
The Players Quit. A one point loss to a Vikings team which was similarly terrible should be the final straw for Jim Schwartz's tenure. Quite simply, the players weren't motivated to finish the season strong mentally and physically despite the assertions of their head coach, who remained perpetually hopeful. The season was a failure, the Lions need to regroup and find some pride in the offseason, because consistent efforts like Detroit fans have endured this December will not make anybody happy. The team may have inadvertently gotten their coach fired as a result of their miserable second half,
Matthew Stafford Needs Help. There's no possible way to emphasize this more but to keep saying it. Stafford, who threw the ball all over the place again, needs to get a coach and coordinator that can help him develop and grow, especially if he continually dismisses the notion of working with a quarterback coach. Far too many throws are behind, below, far or near of where they need to be, and decision making remains shaky. Also, the Lions should prioritize finding Stafford another target during the 2014 NFL Draft, as the Bears, Vikings and Packers have done that recently with great success to supplement their big name players.
This Time, Hope Exists. Defensively, Detroit is in better shape than they have been in many years. Offensively, there's enough talent to justify thoughts that the Lions are a top ten team in the league. Leadership, though, is needed, and that should start at the top with a new boss. Most teams firing their coaches this offseason will be ones in need of a rebuild who's fans won't feel hopeful for the future. If the Lions choose to send Jim Schwartz packing, it won't be that way. With the right boss and a few more moves, the Lions can be a force for several years. In other words, 2008 was yesterday.
Lions? Reggie Bush had a solid day and did run for 1,000 yards this season, which was a big accomplishment for any Lions' rusher. Nick Fairley had 1.5 sacks, and needs to take that momentum into next season to remain a force. Louis Delmas had a nice day with a sack and an interception, as well, and Kevin Ogletree had a few big plays for the passing game.
Lambs? Stafford was terrible again most of the afternoon, and though he made a 53 yard field goal, David Akers showed why he should be replaced, missing a 52 yarder badly. Nate Burleson also didn't do nearly enough in a leading role without Calvin Johnson.
Stat Of The Day: 4.1, the amount of yards per-play the Lions had on Sunday, which was not nearly enough to sustain success. The Lions didn't score enough to win because they routinely failed to churn out yardage on early downs and late downs alike. Consistency is key for next year, and Detroit has to find a way to edge their yardage upwards to have success.
What About The Five Things? Entering this game, we said it would be important to watch for Calvin Johnson'a availability. Fortunately, he didn't play, and reportedly, may require offseason surgery. Matthew Stafford didn't make a game changing mistake, but wasn't great either, and continued to show why he needs help. Matt Asiata ground out 115 yards including some tough runs late, which was good news for the Vikings. Jim Schwartz's coaching wasn't particularly remarkable, and though the Metrodome ghosts didn't show up, the Lions finished their woeful run at the building.
The "Later" Limerick
2013 is finally done
The Lions sure didn't make December very much fun,
Still, don't fret
There might be hope yet,
An offseason of change may have just begun
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