Good evening. As we noted Friday, I'm monitoring Saturday night's game between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons from NFC North blog headquarters. I'll post when necessary during the game, especially if receiver Calvin Johnson breaks Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season, and will have a wrap-up shortly afterwards.
If you're watching the Monday Night Countdown pregame show on ESPN, you know the panelists just hammered the Lions for their 4-10 follow-up to last season's 10-6 record. Mike Ditka called them the "most undisciplined and selfish football team I've ever seen." He said that quarterback Matthew Stafford is "not a leader on this football team" and asserted: "If they didn't have Calvin Johnson, you couldn't even watch this team."
Tom Jackson and Steve Young both suggested that Stafford needs to clean up his mechanics. Jackson said "it's amazing that Calvin Johnson has the numbers that he has," given Stafford's poor mechanics, and Young said that Stafford is a fancy car that "leaks oil."
The Lions have had their moments this season, but I'm not sure if the discipline issue is any different than last season. Stafford's fundamentals aren't much different than they were when he was throwing 41 touchdown passes last year. Those are pocks that get tolerated when you are 10-6 but are highlighted when you're 4-10. Pretty simple there.
Personnel note: As expected, the Lions won't have tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who is inactive because of a sprained ankle. Will Heller will start in his place, but Tony Scheffler will continue to get plenty of action as the Lions' quasi third receiver.