Sunday, October 7, 2007

Washington Redskins Defeat Detroit Lions 34-3

There is no logical explanation for it. The Detroit Lions, after today's drumming at the hands of the Washington Redskins, are 0-21 in the lifetime of the Detroit Lions franchise in Washington against the Redskins. Hardly any of the current players (kicker Jason Hanson among them) ever played in Washington for the Lions. But, no matter, the 2007 Lions looked a lot like the 2000 Lions which looked a lot like the 1992 Lions which looked like, well, every Lions team before them who played in Washington. Different players, coaches, schemes, general managers, even ownership. Can't blame this one on the Ford family, this streak of futility even predates them.

For the second straight game, the Detroit offense, which was explosive the first few weeks of the season, exploded. For the first half, they were nowhere. The second half, they moved the ball a bit, but never could put a sustained drive together. They would pick up a few first downs, but then drop a key third down pass, or take a sack, or a safety, or newly acquired tight end Courtney Alexander commits a false start (which he did twice on third and short). With how great the Lions offense looks at times, you want to chalk this up to a bad game, and some bad matchups, but this is the second straight week the offense has been stagnant for the majority of the game. Last week, the Lions had a miraculous fourth quarter to makeup for three periods of ineptitude. Today, God took a holiday, and the Lions were blown out of the water. Maybe we should just give up before the game starts if it's against the NFC East on the road. So far, Philadelphia and Washington have won by a combined 90-24 tally. Ouch.

With their 3-2 record heading into the bye week, the Lions have a lot to work on, starting with their offensive line. Jon Kitna is simply not getting enough time to throw the ball, and benching Damien Woody for Steven Peterman didn't work. They need to find a way to make sure he not just stays healthy, but stays upright enough to allow his wide recievers to get to the spots they need to get to so Mike Martz' offense can work. Left tackle Jeff Backus had another bad game.

The Tatum Bell experiment should also be over. Kevin Jones showed in the second half against Washington that he is healthy enough to take over as the feature back. And he's effective when he's in the game. Bell is a capable running back, and has shown flashes at times, but it's not good enough. It's time for Jones to take over as the primary ball carrier for the Lions.

The defense, not sure what to do there. The Redksins ran a perfect gameplan against the Lions defense. Long drives, tire them out, keep the Lions offense off the field, and run a lot of screens and passes to the tight end. The Lions just don't have the talent on defense to be effective consistently on a week to week basis. If the front four does not get pressure on the quarterback, and for the most part, they did not on Sunday, the Lions have no chance on defense. Which is why the Washington Redskins, with a gimpy running back, unproven quarterback, and missing their best wide receiver, and their second best the entire second half, were able to successfully play "keep away" from the Lions.

The season is not over, by any means, it's still a 3-2 start. But Tampa Bay in two weeks, at home, is as close to a "must win" game as this Lions team will have this year. They need to continue to prove to themselves that they can continue to bounce back from losses and games like this. Not so much for this year, but for the years that follow, when the talent is better able to handle the scheme the Lions coaching staff wants to run.

Of course, by that point, Mike Martz will be gone, and we'll be back to square one on offense. But, such is life for the Detroit Lions. There's a reason why the team has won just one playoff game since 1957.

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