Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Rising/Falling: Detroit Lions Week 16
By Michael Rothstein
Each week, we’ll look at who or what might be rising or falling with the Detroit Lions.
Run defense: After a blip during the Lions’ loss to Philadelphia in the ice and snow, Detroit’s run defense returned to its typical ways Monday against Baltimore. It didn’t allow a rushing touchdown, held the Ravens to less than 100 yards on the ground and while the 4.29 yards a carry isn’t great, the Lions did what they needed to do.
CB Jonte Green: The first half of Monday’s game was not great for the second-year player thrown into the starting role when Chris Houston and Darius Slay couldn’t go. He missed two tackles and got beat on other plays. But, he ended up playing fairly well. He only allowed four of the eight passes thrown on him to be caught, according to Pro Football Focus, defended two of them and didn’t allow a touchdown. He also spent a lot of the game matched up on Torrey Smith, Baltimore’s top wideout.
Lions' offensive line: It has been a group that has been consistent all season long, possibly the best overall offensive line in the NFL. It continually gives Matthew Stafford time to throw the ball and Reggie Bush and Joique Bell holes to run through. Dominic Raiola and Larry Warford have been among the best centers and guards in the NFL this season.
Lions' playoff hopes: For most of the past two months, the Lions were headed on a trajectory of promise and the playoffs, even looking for the past month or so as if they were going to be the likely winner of the NFC North for the first time and have the home playoff game that goes with it. Now, after letting both Chicago and Green Bay hang around, the Lions are third in their division with two games to play. They still have a shot at making the playoffs, but they’ll need some help.
QB Matthew Stafford: A big part of the reason for the Lions' four losses in the past five games has been Stafford, who has thrown two or more interceptions in three of the past four games and has also lost two fumbles in that span. Stafford has not had more passing touchdowns than turnovers in a game since Week 11 against Pittsburgh.
Head coach Jim Schwartz: Tied to the two above things that are in the Stock Down category places the head coach in the same category. His job status is certainly in question, and if Detroit doesn’t make the playoffs, the Lions could end up making a change with their head coach. How do the Lions make the playoffs? They need Stafford to return to the quarterback he was in the first half of the season instead of what he’s been in the second half. That would go a long way to saving Schwartz’s job.