The Detroit Lions collapsed on Sunday following their devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Lions had two options. They could have played well against the Rams and regain their confidence, or they could come out uninspired and play flat. They did the latter as they allowed an anemic Rams offense to score two touchdowns and let Todd Gurley rebound from his several weeks of poor play to net over 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns. A previously solid run defense, the Detroit Lions played undisciplined in terms of staying in their proper gaps and maintaining the edge. James Ihedigbo showed once again why he will likely not be back with the team next season as he missed several tackles and was more a liability than an asset.
The offense of the Lions is not without blame. They failed to move the ball consistently. They could not get the ball to Calvin Johnson, who finished the game with one catch. Matthew Stafford thew an ill advised pick six that ultimately was the deciding score in the game as both offenses scored a pair of touchdowns. The Lions two touchdowns came on passes to Golden Tate, both of which occurred on the same pick play. While the explosion from Tate was nice, the ineffective play of the offensive line was the story of the game.
The Detroit Lions offensive line has been a mess all season. This week we were reminded that the Lions can only win games against teams that do not get pressure on Stafford. The offensive line was manhandled and Travis Swanson was the biggest culprit in that. Aaron Donald, the Rams all-pro defensive tackle, exploded all over Swanson to record 3 sacks in the game. Manny Ramirez, who has started the past couple games in place of the injured Swanson, did well protecting the middle of the line, making it seem as if Swanson is just not strong enough to place center. Swanson has looked bad quite often this season, and it has been suggested that maybe Ramirez should replace him. Jim Caldwell and the coaching staff feels differently though and Swanson remains the team’s starter. I have to wonder if the new general manager decides to upgrade that position and put Swanson as a backup for next season.
With the loss to the Rams, the Lions were officially eliminated from playoff contention. That makes the next three games meaningless. When asked if its time to give the young guys some playing time to evaluate their abilities, Caldwell responded by saying they are still trying to win games. At this point with no team goals to achieve (they are guaranteed a losing season and no playoff spot) why not play everyone and see what you have for next season? The simple answer is that Caldwell does not expect to be here next season.