After defeating the New York Jets on the road last Sunday, many thought the Detroit Lions should be able come home to Ford Field and defeat the Buffalo Bills, who are now being commanded defensively by the Lions former head coach Jim Schwartz. However, Schwartz would get the last laugh this time, as the Bills were able put together a clutch win and come back to defeat the Lions 17-14.
For the Lions they have no one to blame but themselves for this loss and most of it starts with the lack of offensive execution and the inconsistency of kicker Alex Henery.
- After releasing rookie kicker Nate Freese, everyone hoped that kicker Alex Henery would be able to come in and do what Freese couldn’t do which is produce. However, since joining the Lions, Henery has not produced and Sunday’s loss to the Bills was no better as Henery missed all three field goal attempts in the game, leaving nine points on the field instead of on the board, not to mention a potential game winner with 21 seconds left. If your thinking he just had a bad game, think again. Since joining the Lions, Henery has gone 1-for-5, only adding to the Lions unimpressive kicking trend where Lions kickers are now 1-for-9 on the season on field goals longer than 30 yards, which is not only unacceptable at this point season, but just plain disappointing.
- Keep in mind that it is not all on Henrey. I know it’s easy to blame him, considering he left nine points on the field and missed the game winning field. However, this loss also goes on the Lions offense. It may have gone unnoticed by some, since everyone is watching Henrey but this Lions offense only put up seven points in this game. Although some will says that the injuries may have hurt the Lions in this one, it doesn’t change the fact that this offense collapsed big time.
- When it comes to quarterback Matthew Stafford, he just continues to be inconsistent, as he takes one step forward and three steps back. It’s really disappointing because Stafford seems to be resorting back to his old ways. By old ways, I mean forcing the ball and/or holding the ball to long, which not only caused him at times to get sacked but it also contributed to him turning the ball over. The turnovers are the real thing that bothers me about Stafford. If you look at the stats, you will see that he had interception and while some people may try to blame the interception on Bush, since it was tipped off his hands. Keep in mind that it was poorly thrown ball by Stafford and that’s not Bush’s fault. To be honest, Stafford accuracy has been questionable all season long. I know during preseason, I said that Stafford looked like things had slowed down for him and in some cases I think things have slowed down. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Stafford’s pocket awareness and accuracy still need improvement. If you go back and look at the film, you will see in some areas that Stafford has improved, like his footwork and ability to ‘scramble” and a use that term very lightly. However, if you go back to his film, you will also notice that Stafford’s inaccuracy is still there. In fact, I can go back and name multiple times where Stafford’s inaccuracy has been shown, including last week against the Jets, where he under threw Jeremy Ross on a touchdown pass, or even when he over thew wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who had to dive to make the catch, instead of catching it in stride. It’s the same story when it comes to pocket awareness. If you go back and look at this game, you will see that Stafford was sacked over six times and while some of that goes to the offensive line, who I will talk about in a minute, some of it goes to Stafford holding the ball to long which goes back to poor pocket awareness. The other part of his poor pocket awareness is knowing and/or feeling where the pressure is. A few times in this game Stafford made an attempt to scramble and make a play, which is fine. However, what isn’t fine, is Stafford not being aware of his surrounding when he scrambles. Although it won’t show up on the stat sheet since it wasn’t a turnover, Stafford fumbled the ball in this game because he wasn’t aware of his surroundings and the unfortunate thing is this isn’t the first time. He did the same thing against the Panthers in week two. Even though, I don’t think Stafford is the only problem that this offense has, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a major part of their inconsistent success.
- Which leads me to the Lions other issues offensively, those being the offensive line and the receivers ability to get separation. When it comes to offensive line, I think it’s safe to say that everyone was excited to see right tackle LaAdrian Waddle back on the field, after being out for weeks with a calf injury. However, that doesn’t change the fact that even with Waddle back in the game, the Lions offensive line was still inconsistent. Stafford was once again under too much pressure, taking a career-worst six sacks on the day, bringing his season total to 17, after taking 23 all last season. Bottom line is that the interior of the line had no answer for the Bills’ pass rush leaving Stafford to take a beating and that’s unacceptable at this point.
- As far as the receivers go. Besides Golden Tate, who carried the group, catching seven passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, no one else did anything. While some of that blame goes to Stafford for not getting them the ball. A good amount of the blame goes to the receivers for not creating any form of separation from the defenders. Even with Johnson out, there is no reason that Tate should be the only bright spot. Ross, Broyles and Corey Fuller are all capable receivers with play-making ability and the fact that they couldn’t get separation or create consistently is something they need to change quickly.
- Defensively I didn’t have much of a complaint but I will say at times the defense missed too many tackles. Besides that I would say they came to play but just simply ran out of gas, which is not their fault, when the offense is constantly putting the defense on the field.
- Defensively, I have to credit the Lions entire defense. I know the Bills won and scored 17 unanswered points but the blame for that shouldn’t go to the defense. From start to finish this Lions defense put the team in a position to win, the Lions offense just didn’t do their part. When it came to the defensive line the front four played well for the Lions, limiting the Bills running game while pressuring quarterback Kyle Orton on a regular basis. At the linebacker position, as usual, DeAndre Levy was all over the field making stops along with Tahir Whitehead. Linebacker Ashlee Palmer, who made his second start of the season, also had an impact as he forced an incomplete pass and tallied a sack. In the secondary, cornerback Rashean Mathis came up with one of the biggest plays of the games, as he intercepted Orton’s pass and returned it for a touchdown. Overall, this defense was a suffocating force, as they forced, six punts, one pick-six and one missed field goals on eight of Buffalo’s first 10 drives. In fact, the Bills didn’t have a drive of longer than 24 yards until late in the third quarter. Although the Lions defense ran out of gas somewhat in the fourth quarter, I will say that they gave the Lions offense multiple chances to win this game both in the early quarters, as well as in the fourth quarter. So while some people will say that the defense loss the Lions this game, keep in mind that the Lions defense did their job, it was the offense who didn’t and that isn’t the defense’s fault.
- Offensively, wide receiver Golden Tate has to be the star as he continues to shine, while wide receiver Calvin Johnson was out. Not only did he finish with a team-best seven catches for 135 yards and scored the lone offensive touchdown of the first half but he once again was instrumental in helping the Lions move the ball on a continuous basis down the field. The Lions offense just didn’t take advantage of it, which is not the fault of Tate.
- The same goes for receiver and punt returner Jeremy Ross. I know he may have not done much on the offensive end at receiver but when it came to the punt return game, he did a great job of creating despite good coverage by the Bills. Although, he didn’t return any punts for touchdowns, he did a consistent job of putting the Lions in Bills territory and yet the Lions offense still did not take advantage, which is once again not Ross’s fault.
- Beyond Ross, punter Sam Martin, continues to be the most underrated piece on the Lions special teams unit, as he continuously kicked and punted the ball well all game long, putting the Bills in bad field position and the Lions defense in position to succeed.
- Detroit native and rookie running back George Winn may have not gotten a victory in his pro debut but he did show some promise as he broke a couple of plays and ran the ball efficiently. Overall, he proved to be the Lions best back, finishing with 11 carries for 48 yards, showing that there is place for him in this offense, despite a few dropped passes.
At the end of the day, this is tough loss for any team. However for the Lions, this one should sting a little more because they not only allowed the Bills to come back and win but because they also allowed the Bills to defeat them at home.
That being said, this isn’t the end of the world. There is still plenty of football to play and still plenty of time for the Lions to get better. Like Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said in the post game presser, “all this means is that we’re not going to be 15-1. We go back to work on Monday to take care of business.”
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.
Poor Offensive Execution And Kicking Woes Lead To The Lions Downfall Against The Bills was originally published on wchbnewsdetroit.com