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Third and one: Lions

10/19/2009

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

After Detroit’s 26-0 loss at Green Bay, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. As we type this, at least, Detroit has one of the thinnest quarterback situations in the NFL. Starter Matthew Stafford is having an MRI of his knee re-examined by Dr. James Andrews. Backup Daunte Culpepper couldn’t finish Sunday’s game because of a hamstring injury. And No. 3 quarterback Drew Stanton only recently returned to practice after undergoing knee surgery. It’s possible Stafford will get the green light to resume practicing after the Lions’ upcoming bye week, but as of now the status of the position is pretty tenuous.

  2. It’s time to use the “flip pitch” play a little less liberally. It’s worked in several key situations this season, beginning with the Lions’ first touchdown of the year at New Orleans. But the Packers seemed to be expecting Culpepper to fake a draw handoff and then flip the ball to tailback Aaron Brown on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter Sunday. Brown never made it close to the line of scrimmage. Already trailing 14-0, the Lions weren’t really competitive for the rest of the game. I had no problem with the decision to go for the first down rather than kick a field goal, but the Lions ran a highly predictable play.

  3. Yes, it’s true that everyone gets sacks against Green Bay. But the silver lining of Sunday’s game might have been the 2.5-sack performance of linebacker Julian Peterson. The Lions acquired him for exactly that reason: To give them a consistent pass-rushing threat from the outside, either through the blitz or even as an occasional defensive end. It might not sound like much, but putting that kind of production on tape will be an important asset for the Lions as teams game plan against them. Put simply, the Peterson can be a player that opponents must account for. That’s progress.

And here is one question I’m still asking:

What’s the common thread among the slew of injuries the Lions have suffered since the start of training camp? Coach Jim Schwartz said after the game that the No. 1 goal of the bye week is to get “some players back on the field.” A half-dozen starters were either sidelined or limited Sunday, including Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. I’ve gotten a lot of mailbag questions about this, and I really don’t know if there is an answer. Sometimes injuries come in spurts, and sometimes they’re magnified by a lack of depth. With a below-average talent base already, the Lions can’t expect to compete with so many of their front-line players unavailable.