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Lions continue to confound themselves with slow starts

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz watches a video board during loss against Vikings Reuters

Raise your hand if you understand the Lions.

OK, no hands.

There might not be a more mystifying team in the league, as they present a series of indications they can be good, while consistently failing to get there.

The Lions are one of three teams in the league’s top 10 in team offense and defense. They brought back the bulk of last year’s playoff team (39 of 53), including

the coaching staff, so there’s continuity.

They have one of the league’s best defensive lines, and one of the top three or four receivers in the game.

So why are they 4-5 again?

“Obviously, it takes all three phases to get this thing going,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said, via FOXSports.com’s Alex Marvez. “One week, it will be the offense doing good. The next week, it will be the defense. Sometimes, all three phases do good.

“We have to find a way to put it all together. When we do, we’re rolling.”

They lead the league in fourth-quarter scoring (118 points), but they’ve been outscored 129-95 in the first three, often giving themselves too deep a hole to get out of.

“You can look at our slow starts a lot of different ways,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “We start slow, but the team battles and finds a way to stay in it until the very end. Whether you’re scoring early or putting it away late, [the games] all count the same.

“We don’t really worry about style points or grading on a curve. The only thing is our record. The last two Super Bowl winners were 7-7 going into the last two weeks of the year. There’s plenty of time for us to do something, but our margins are a lot thinner when you’re 4-5.”

Of course, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re mature enough to build upon last year’s success, after an offseason of all the wrong kind of headlines.

“Last year was the first playoff berth [since 1999], and we’ve got to handle success,” Tulloch said. “We’ve got to find a way to build on that and know that every year is different. You’ve got to stay consistent in this league and keep striving and never get comfortable.”

They can’t do that, as Sunday’s game against Green Bay triggers a tough finish to the season, though they do play five of their last seven at home.

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23 Responses to “Lions continue to confound themselves with slow starts”
  1. johnnycash19 says: Nov 17, 2012 11:42 AM

    Of course, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re mature enough to build upon last year’s success, after an offseason of all the wrong kind of headlines.
    ——

    I don’t think the “wrong kind of headlines” has affected them. You could argue that Fairley has played as good if not better than Suh (that could speak more of Suh than Fairley) and Leshoure has been a hit or miss guy each week. The other guys aren’t even on the team.

  2. stevesabato says: Nov 17, 2012 11:50 AM

    Either Stafford waits until the 4th to start taking shots downfield, or Linehan waits until the 4th to open the offense up. One of these things happens every week.

  3. riverace19 says: Nov 17, 2012 11:53 AM

    When you have a coach like Schwartz, it’s like having an in-line regulator in the system. You can only go so fast.

  4. cannonballdookie says: Nov 17, 2012 11:58 AM

    It’s not hard to realize last season was a fluke. They are a good team, but not that great and they constantly fought back from huge deficits late in games last year, that kind of play is unsustainable. They have a lot of players who’ve been good in flashes, for a game or two, but can’t really stay consistent.

  5. getatmeplease says: Nov 17, 2012 12:02 PM

    “and one of the top three or four receivers in the game.”

    I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.

  6. rmc1995 says: Nov 17, 2012 12:19 PM

    It’s really pretty simple. Two games were lost because of special teams giving up two TDs in each of those losses. They have also played six of their first nine games on the road. Better special teams play and a more balanced schedule and they could easily be 6-3 or 7-2.

  7. stevenfbrackett says: Nov 17, 2012 12:51 PM

    I honestly believe their problems stem from a lack of discipline from the top down.

    If the GM had discipline, he wouldn’t bring in so many shady people who are constantly in trouble off field.

    If the coaching staff had discipline, they wouldn’t be allowing these shady people to constantly get away with their undisciplined behavior on field.

    If the players had discipline, they wouldn’t be constantly hit or miss or making way too many big penalties every game.

    If they ever get a handle on the team and organizational lack of discipline they would immediately win several more games a season – or at least lose respectably.

  8. flickaboogie says: Nov 17, 2012 12:51 PM

    One word -Injuries. They have the talent but not enough depth . Signing players off the street every other week has a terrible effect on team chemistry.

  9. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 17, 2012 1:52 PM

    I think I have nailed down the Lions problems for years and they have yet to try my ideas of roster strategy to get an overall dominant team on the field that makes sense. Every year I summarize exactly what they are doing wrong and every year I’m proven to be dead on balls accurate with my critiques of exactly where they go wrong.

    So my hand has been raised continuously every day for the last 5+ years.

  10. Dustin Chace White says: Nov 17, 2012 2:04 PM

    “I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.”

    A.J Greene is definitely better.

    I think you could argue for Brandon Marshal or Julio Jones being ahead of him too based upon this season.

  11. bargainstown says: Nov 17, 2012 3:02 PM

    “I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.”

    A.J Greene is definitely better.

    I think you could argue for Brandon Marshal or Julio Jones being ahead of him too based upon this season.

    ======================================
    HaHaHa
    What a joke

  12. schmitty2 says: Nov 17, 2012 3:10 PM

    Dustin Chace White says:
    Nov 17, 2012 2:04 PM
    “I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.”

    A.J Greene is definitely better.

    I think you could argue for Brandon Marshal or Julio Jones being ahead of him too based upon this season

    Did you make an early stop at the liquor store?

  13. thetokyosandblaster says: Nov 17, 2012 3:22 PM

    I’m not really sure what is so funny.

    AJ Green has 100 less yards but has 7 more TDs.

    AJ Green is having a much better year.

    Calvin Johnson is just like Adrian Peterson. They’re studs, but they’re wasting their careers on teams that will never, ever win a Super Bowl.

    Sad, really.

  14. derklempner says: Nov 17, 2012 3:22 PM

    “The last two Super Bowl winners were 7-7 going into the last two weeks of the year.”

    I’m trying to figure out how the 2010 Packers, who were 10-6, was a 7-7 team going into week 16.

  15. larryboodry says: Nov 17, 2012 4:19 PM

    Dustin Chace White says:
    Nov 17, 2012 2:04 PM

    “I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.”

    Anyone with more than two freakin’ TDs in 9 games.

  16. bargainstown says: Nov 17, 2012 4:24 PM

    thetokyosandblaster
    So A J Green has a chance to win the superbowl? Really?

    Or is he just wasting his career

  17. thetokyosandblaster says: Nov 17, 2012 5:23 PM

    bargainstown says:
    Nov 17, 2012 4:24 PM
    thetokyosandblaster
    So A J Green has a chance to win the superbowl? Really?

    Or is he just wasting his career

    —-

    The main difference is that the AFC is week, and so any team theoretically could get to the Super Bowl from that conference.

    Sorry that AJ Green is better than Calvin Johnson.

    The truth hurt, bro?

  18. jimmylions says: Nov 17, 2012 6:27 PM

    Tulloch is correct. All three aspects of the Lions team, offense, defense, special teams, are capable of playing well. They haven’t had all three play well in the same game.

    Winning tomorrow against Green Bay is important. They’ll need the momentum going into a short week against a very tough Houston team — that’s also a very important game.

    Tomorrow being an old NFC Norris division rivalry makes the game especially fun.

  19. youcantfixstupid2012 says: Nov 17, 2012 6:43 PM

    I have said all along that CJ will be a lot like Barry Sanders, tons of great numbers but nothing to show for it.
    I think it is better to have 2-3 good skill players at a position then have 1 megastar. Larry Fritz is great but what is he going to have when he is done, nothing.

  20. jmacphee9 says: Nov 18, 2012 2:33 AM

    getatmeplease says:
    Nov 17, 2012 12:02 PM
    “and one of the top three or four receivers in the game.”

    I’m struggling to think of one WR that’s better, much less two or three.

    i agree 100% with this statement, and other then that statement i agree with the article.

    this is what happens when you dont address needs in the offseason and draft. “best player available” is how bad teams become decent. filling needs via draft is how decent teams become great. lions were in that decent team category last year, and this is the result, another decent team with a very hard schedule/division. going 0-2 against the vikings really sunk the season.

  21. jmacphee9 says: Nov 18, 2012 2:34 AM

    decent teams dont always get to dance in december though in the nfl.

  22. eezyxyz says: Nov 18, 2012 11:15 AM

    “The last two Super Bowl winners were 7-7 going into the last two weeks of the year.”

    The Packers were actually 8-6 back in 2010 going into the last two weeks … but I see his point.

  23. bargainstown says: Nov 18, 2012 11:33 AM

    If it were the truth it would hurt. But it is fantasy

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