Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

After the Detroit Lions' 14-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Over on Twitter, @edahlb suggested that quarterback Shaun Hill appeared to intentionally throw the ball away on the two-point conversion attempt that could have tied the game. When you watch the replay, you see Hill unable to find an open receiver before sailing it over the head of tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the back of the end zone. If Hill actually forgot the situation, it would have been an incredible brainlock by a professional quarterback on par with Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of the end zone. Knowing Hill, I don't believe that to be the case. It was a poor attempt at a low-percentage pass, but not a mental mistake. Here's how he described it to reporters Sunday: "I was sick when the ball left my hands. I was trying to kind of put one on him, up where he could go up and get it, and that thing just flailed out of the hand." It was poor execution, but not a botched play.

  2. It's not clear when we'll get official word on starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, but his consultation with Dr. James Andrews on his right shoulder is complete. Stafford could begin a rehabilitation program or could be shut down for the season. We don't know. Thinking intuitively and nothing else, it would be a surprise if we find out that Stafford will be ready to return in a few weeks. After all, he's suffered two significant injuries to his throwing shoulder in the span of two months. Lions fans should brace themselves.

  3. I think it's fair to say tailback Jahvid Best has slowed down since piling up 232 all-purpose yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. Sunday, Best managed 35 yards on 17 carries against the NFL's worst rushing defense. Obviously, the running game is a group effort that also includes the offensive line and play-caller. But I think we can say this about Best: There haven't been many occasions this season when he has made something out of nothing. He has averaged 3.0 yards per carry or less in four games this season. I'm sure that an early season turf toe injury hasn't helped, but the season-long explosion many of us expected has yet to materialize.

And here is one issue I don't get:

How much blame should we put on Lions coach Jim Schwartz as his team continues to rack up penalties? They now have 88 on the season, second-most in the NFL. To me, some penalties are more attributable to coaching than others. When you have two chop blocks in one game that violate a little-known NFL rule, you can wonder if players are being taught proper techniques. But when someone jumps offside, how is that a coach's fault? What can he do to require players to maintain concentration? The jury will always be out on that question.