• There's Always 2013: Detroit Lions

    Unlike other teams that will appear on this list, the Detroit Lions are a group that had a lot of promise before the 2012 season got underway. Until last season, optimism and the Detroit Lions had not been written together in the same sentence since before Napster was the way people got music illegally. 2011 featured a fearsome defensive line that was still developing, a finally healthy Matt Stafford who went on to throw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns along with the best receiver in the NFL. The end of last season is about the time 2012 started to go off the rails.


    The 2012 season starting having red flags surround it as soon as red lights were seen in the rear view mirror by the first Lions players arrested. What began last season as an edge (3rd in the penalties in 2011), quickly turned into a team that is now regarded as undisciplined. The problems with their most talented lineman has been detailed here before. The team now stands at 4-10 and their coach admits that the season has "gone off the rails."

    The offense was 4th in the league in scoring last season while Matt Stafford averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. This season, the offense is now 14th in scoring while the quarterback from Georgia is averaging .8 yards less per attempt and has 24 less touchdowns thrown. This season has been another in a long line of instability at the running back position. Last year, Mo Morris, Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith averaged 4.3 yards a carry. This season, Mikel Leshoure, Smith and Joique Bell are averaging 4.2 yards a carry while Best is wondering if he can continue his career after prolonged concussion symptoms. The rushing attack has fallen from 16th to 25th in rushing first down percentage.

    The defense has somehow been worse as the secondary has been as bad as advertised. In 2011, Eric Wright and Chris Houston were burned on the outside a lot while Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey showed some promise at safety. The corner position went unfortified in the off-season and then injuries hit. Delmas has only played six games while Chris Houston has had to start 12 games again. Jacob Lacey, Jonte Green, Drayton Florence, Bill Bentley and Alphonso Smith have all been mostly terrible. The defense has fallen from 23rd to 28th in points allowed.

    The defensive line has been slightly worse and is about 5 sacks behind last season's pace. There have been questions about effort and the also about if Suh's contract is worth it.

    Overall, the 2012 Detroit Lions are not too much different than the 2011 version on the defensive side of the ball, but they have been much less efficient on the offense. Matt Stafford has not been the same player as he was in 2011. They are 24th in turnover differential this season at -9 after being 4th in 2011. They are still 7th in penalties and don't have the other stats needed to overcome their problems.


    The first major decision the team has to deal with is if they want to keep Jim Schwartz as head coach. Despite one season of joy, Schwartz had lost 10 games or more in three of his four seasons as sideline general. Will upper management decide that Schwartz simply cannot keep a team together and develop it properly?

    Beyond that, there are many other things to discuss. Talent used to be an issue in Detroit. Now, a roster base must be developed and holes must be filled in the deficient areas while dealing with the problem of spending over 40% of the money on three players (Stafford, Johnson, Suh). So, the scouting must be good and the team has to become a NFL version of the Tampa Bay Rays. They have to do it quickly.

    Outside of Louis Delmas, the secondary must be overhauled. They cannot miss as badly as they did on Titus Young. They may want to see if the Titans release Chris Johnson because of his contract in hopes that he could play 16 games and run wild on the indoor turf at Ford Field. Amazingly, they need another receiver on the other side of Calvin Johnson other than the aging Nate Burleson. It is possible that Ryan Broyles can grow into being that guy. If they finish bad enough and get the chance, it may not be a bad idea for them to get Manti Te'o.

    Finally, the players on the team must stop getting arrested.

    Comments 28 Comments
    1. darvon's Avatar
      Call it the Jason Hanson Rule.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      UPDATED: 5:10pm 12/19/12, darvon, I chose not to move any guys with less than 3 years who were higher picks to Yellow
      I think that for most players, in the 2nd year you should know, except QBs. For a few, in the end of the 1st Year, you know. Depends on how much he plays in the early months.

      I know for Leshoure. I know for Broyles.
      I don't know for Raiff.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      1) You are updating the initial list. Great.

      2) You need to just bite the bullet and put the Old Greens in Green. A Yellow/Green category for old greens is cutting the bologna too thin.

      3) I'll cave on the 2 year olds, but I still think by 2 years, you know for everyone except backup QB.

      4) I think we lost Corey Williams in the shuffle.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by darvon View Post
      1) You are updating the initial list. Great.

      2) You need to just bite the bullet and put the Old Greens in Green. A Yellow/Green category for old greens is cutting the bologna too thin.

      3) I'll cave on the 2 year olds, but I still think by 2 years, you know for everyone except backup QB.

      4) I think we lost Corey Williams in the shuffle.
      Sounds good RE: Green:Yellow only due to age. Solid compromise. I imagine what this exercise is the meeting real teams have with the coaches and GMs at the end of a season or during the beginning of a new regime.

      After the roster is sorted, then the cap guys comes in.

      C. Williams is near bottom of Yellow list
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Okay... I have to write the Chiefs article. Then I will try to code the rest of the NFC North by end of the day tomorrow.

      This is would be a good thing to try to update at one determined time each year and then see if GMs are increasing the numbers of Greens each year. Coach evaluation is done at the end of the season, should this list be the same time frame?
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      That makes sense. Although from an editorial point of view, spreading them out -- coaches after the season, GM's before the draft -- might be more appetizing to your readers.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Thanks for explaining their problems so clearly. I see that their points allowed average is three worse than last season. And their scoring average is down six points. Bad trends.

      Personally, I feel that Schwartz contributes to the discipline issues on his team. His tendency is to excuse rather than address them. It was interesting to hear a Suh teammate basically rip him for playing like a diva and taking plays off. That's a discipline issue. Maybe they should hire Schiano?
      I agree with Wax. Schwartz has given the Lions swagger they needed after 0-16, and that's a plus. But, he lacks disclipline, and he has shown that fairly often as a Head Coach. Organizations of all sorts, not just NFL teams, often take on the attributes of the leadership. When the leader is a talented hothead that often makes discipline errors, is it really a shock that the team does as well?

      If I ran the Lions, I'd consider a new coach. If I didn't go that way, I'd make it clear to Schwartz that part of his evaluation for next year was discipline, his own as well as the teams.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      That is a two man team. They looked bad tonight - almost Raider bad.