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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Upon Further Review: Lions Week 15

By Michael Rothstein

A review of four hot issues from the Detroit Lions' 18-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens:

Matt Stafford
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a fixture in the film room during the offseason.
Job security: There isn't much of that for Detroit coach Jim Schwartz or his coaching staff Tuesday morning. While there is still a chance for the Lions to make the playoffs, they have to win out and then hope for some help from either Chicago or Green Bay. Considering where Detroit has been throughout the season -- the healthiest team in the NFC North, in control of its own fate for most of the year, having lost four of its past five games -- there are a lot of questions around this coaching staff now.

No offensive improvement: Other than a blip of progress against Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, the Lions' offense has struggled throughout most of the season's second half. The Lions continue to turn the ball over at a high rate, with three more turnovers Monday night, the fifth straight game the Lions have had at least three and have also been on the losing end in turnover differential. It has been many of the same problems this season for Detroit. The Lions continue to drop passes -- now at 44 on the season, 12 more than any other team in the league. They continue to turn the ball over at a high rate, and the 31 turnovers this year are second worst in the NFL, only ahead of the Giants.

Defense hung in: Much of Monday night's loss can be attributed to Detroit's offense. Detroit's defense did what it was supposed to do. Baltimore did not score a touchdown and had to make a 61-yard field goal to give the Ravens the lead with less than a minute remaining. It is the second time in three games that the Lions' defense has held an opponent without a touchdown. Even with depleted depth at cornerback, the Lions held Joe Flacco to a 52.6 completion percentage and fewer than 250 yards passing while also allowing fewer than 100 yards rushing for the seventh time in the last eight games.

Stafford's rough day: Some of this ties into the lack of offensive improvement -- and frankly, some questionable play calls throughout the game -- but Matthew Stafford was inefficient once again Monday night. He completed 52.9 percent of his passes, the fifth time in six games after the bye week he has completed less than 60 percent of his throws. He tossed three interceptions, the sixth time in seven games he has thrown at least one pick and the third time in four games he has thrown multiple interceptions. His receivers again didn't help him out, dropping three passes. Two of those three interceptions came in the fourth quarter, where he has noticeably struggled in the second half of the season. After having a passer rating over 100 in the fourth quarter of all but one game the first half of the season, Stafford has reached that mark just once in the second half of the year -- and that was in a rout on Thanksgiving, the only time in the season's second half in which Detroit had a high-efficiency performance on offense.