Sound the alarm bells, the Lions have serious causes for concern. In last night’s game against the Cleveland Browns, there was little positive to take away from the Lions’ perspective outside of the thought, “Hey, our best playmaker wasn’t on the field!”
Well, that’s true. Calvin Johnson wasn’t on the field, and without him, the Lions’ offense came to an abrupt stop. Adding Johnson back to the lineup would certainly help, but the Lions appear to have a more systemic problem than simply the absence of one playmaker.
The Lions’ biggest issue seems to be their surprising lack of offensive production. Normally reliable receivers such as Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson were ineffective, both dropping passes, and the Lions’ running game was nonexistent.
The Lions have been able to survive, and at times even thrive, by running up the score on opponents and letting their defensive line go head-hunting against opponents’ quarterbacks. Last night, the result of a lack of offense was apparent.
The Browns offense, to their credit, was very good. Brandon Weeden looked like the best quarterback in the game by far, and the Browns were able to block up running plays well. As a unit, the offense looked comfortable sitting back and picking the Lions’ defense apart.
The Lions, for their part, simply weren’t able to cover. Without a near-instant pass rush, the Lions’ defenders are unable to maintain coverage, which allowed Browns receivers to find openings in the coverage. Weeden targeted those openings, and put the ball on spot.
If it’s any consolation, and it shouldn’t be, the Lions were able to knock a pair of field goals through to prevent the shut out.
The Lions were unable to maintain early season momentum last year, largely due to a lack of discipline. They were consistently falling behind early, storming back and falling just short of comeback victories. This year, I’m not sure their ability to come back will be available to them. Early signs indicate that the Lions have a lack of talent, and in this league, it’s nearly impossible to win with inferior talent.
Then again, maybe I’m just being pessimistic. Maybe the Lions have assembled a competitive roster that had an off night. Maybe the Browns are just that good, but seriously, who are we kidding? The Browns aren’t a great team, and neither are the Lions. While Detroit may be able to put together a record near .500, that won’t be good enough to save the current regime.