Detroit Lions Recliner Report – Arizona Cardinals 4

1:52 AM 16 Sep 2013

My first reactions after the Detroit Lions disappointing 25-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in week 2 of the young NFL season was a lot of anger and cussing and accusations. Did I say cussing already? And then some more accusations and cussing followed by anger before I finally tuned my television off to reflect on the disaster of a game that just unfolded before my fiery eyes.

Reflection 1

K David Akers missed a 47-yard field goal and had another 47-yard field goal blocked by Cardinals CB/ST ace Justin Bethel. In reality, Akers missed twice in Detroit’s first scoring opportunity, though. First when his 52-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, but because Bethel was called for running into the kicker, Akers was given a second chance. Akers then attempted a 47-yard field goal attempt only to miss wide left. Those two field goals would have been the winning difference in the game for the Lions.

Akers and Rugland

The Lions kept K David Akers over K Havard Rugland during final roster cuts to start the season.

I personally was in favor of the Lions keeping the veteran kicker over the unproven YouTube trick-kick video sensation Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland during final roster cuts to start the season. I could feel the roar and the “I told you so’s” from David “Shankers” Akers haters through my Internet connection immediately after the first misses and when the second kick was blocked I felt the sudden urge to roar in disgust myself and threw my hands up and admitted my err in judgment before the almighty football gods.

It is evident that I was mistaken in my thoughts behind keeping Akers. He is just too old and too inconsistent to support my theory of experience over inexperience when it comes to the kicking position. I do, however, stand by my theory that head coach Jim Schwartz kept Akers instead of Rugland in an effort to keep his own job over the betterment of the organization. A bad game for Akers, yes, but the season is over by no means. Winnable games must be won to be a contender in the NFL and this was a game where the Lions beat themselves. I hold on to hope, but maybe Rugland should be brought in for another look-see. Or even another veteran kicker that can make 47-yard field goals. Standing by mediocrity has to end at some point. This brings me to reflection number 2.

 Reflection 2

Applying the mediocre tag to Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew would be insulting to the mediocre tag. Pettigrew was targeted 6 times and had 3 catches in the Cardinals game for 32-yards amassing 10.7 yards per catch. The 3 balls he didn’t catch? Drops of course! He suffers from a bad case of the dropsies and fumblitis.

In this game, though, he didn’t block very well, either. Blocking was the last strong hold that Pettigrew supporters had to hold on to. It is time for rookie TE Joseph Fauria to be inserted into the Lions starting lineup followed by another mediocre Lions veteran TE in Tony Scheffler, not Pettigrew. For some unknown reason neither Fauria nor Scheffler registered any meaningful production or opportunities against Arizona. To continue my venture into Pettigrew opinion, though, I DO NOT understand why QB Matthew Stafford even looks Pettigrew’s direction anymore in passing situations because throwing to Pettigrew is a crap shoot at best.

Reflection 3

8 penalties for 101-yards and 19 penalties for 189-yards in the first two games of the season combined. Atrocious! No discipline and bonehead plays will contribute to certain losses more times than not, but negating positive turnovers and TDs by meaningless infractions on the road makes winning just about impossible.

Granted, sometimes teams can overcome penalties to win a road game, but a 31-yard pass interference call in the end zone like the one on Lions CB Bill Bentley to put the Cardinals on the 1-yard line to set up a game winning TD, destroy any hopes of winning. So do plays like Bentley’s other 28-yard pass interference penalty in the third quarter, and the illegal hands to the face call against DE Willie Young to nullify a defensive turnover, and then on the very next play, having a roughing the passer penalty by DE Israel Idonije to put the Cardinals in field-goal range. These types of penalties continue to plague the Lions and as long as they do there will be little hope of ever being serious contenders in the NFC North let alone in the NFL.

Reflection 4

Oh Reggie!  There is no doubt RB Reggie Bush is an amazing athlete and a high octane performer, but injuries continue to hamper his career.

RB Reggie Bush will have an MRI on his injured left knee

RB Reggie Bush will have an MRI on his injured left knee

Bush took a helmet to his left knee after a nifty 26-yard run after the catch by Cardinals S Tony Jefferson early in the second quarter. Bush was cleared to return to the game and played later in the second quarter and part of the third quarter until he fumbled the ball and left the game not to return. His final game stats were 9 carries for 25-yards and 3 receptions for 44-yards and he is expected to have an MRI on his knee to determine the severity of the injury. The loss of Bush is huge and could impact the Lions season and how teams play Detroit’s offense.

WR Calvin Johnson was primed to have another stellar season with the addition of Bush this offseason and if Bush is out for an extended period of time and teams no longer have to respect the important weapon that Bush is, Calvin Johnson will experience a lot more double and triple teams and more pressure getting off the line of scrimmage.

Reflection 5

There wasn’t all bad in the Lions loss to the Cardinals on the road. The fact that it was a non-Divisional road game lessens the sting some.

@Bigplaycj is at it again! Calvin Johnson was targeted 8 times with 6 receptions for 116-yards and 2 TDs on his way to breaking former Lions great WR Herman Moore’s franchise record of 9 career multi-TD games by a WR.

LB DeAndre Levy has back-to-back games with an INT, but in the game against the Cardinals Levy was able to cash in on the TD that he was robbed of in the previous week’s Vikings game. Unfortunately, that was the only Lions score of the second half.

QB Matthew Stafford played a more relaxed looking game and seemed a lot more poised in the pocket and on the sideline than usual. He made some very accurate passes, but once again was victimized by dropped passes from the WRs, TEs, and RBs. A variety of players in all three of those offensive skill positions continue to drop the ball and are more at fault for Detroit’s offensive woes than the QB play itself. Stafford was 24-of-36 passing for 278-yards and 2 TDs in the Cardinals game. He is 52-of-79 passing for 635-yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT through 2 games with a QB rating of 102 on the year.

CB Chris Houston had a good game racking up 7 tackles with 2 batted passes and actually turned his head to bat the balls. Not turning his head to find the ball has been my biggest complaint against Houston and he is doing it well so far this season.

RB Joique Bell filled in decently for Bush but had a couple of drops.

WR Nate Burleson has 13 receptions through 2 games.

S Glover Quin continues to show his skills and value and is a tremendous defensive upgrade.

LB Stephen Tulloch is the real leader of the Lions defense.

I feel like DT C.J. Mosely and DT did a solid job in replacing injured DT Nick Fairley.

It was a bad turn of events and outcome for the Lions overall, but the beauty of the NFL is that there is a 16 game schedule and there are more games to be played. An early loss in the season can be made up and team struggles can be rectified. Coaches, players, administrators, fans, simply everyone needs to dig deep and get ready for the next challenging road game against the Redskins on Sunday at 1pm EDT. Even in the midst of doom and gloom I still shout – Forever True, I Bleed Honolulu Blue! Go Lions!

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4 thoughts on “Detroit Lions Recliner Report – Arizona Cardinals

  1. Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Reply Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Sep 16, 2013 2:17 AM

    Pettigrew had 6 targets, three catches, two drops, and one pass defended that was batted down. I know it doesn’t mean much at this point, his production has been well below his par.

    Joique Bell had three drops.

  2. Derek Mack Reply dmac93065 Sep 16, 2013 2:34 AM

    Great read Jeff. Of all the issues that manifested themselves in today’s game, special teams woes were the most concerning as there seems to be a carryover of futility in the return game and a new issue in converting field goal attempts. Like you, I supported Akers and his veteran savvy over Rugland who had never even worn pads until camp started. Typically kickers get a couple of games to get it right but if he’s still hovering around a 70% conversion ratio, they have to part ways with him. I disagree on pursuing Rugland. He’s almost 30 now and by the time he’s gotten through a steep learning curve, he’ll be close to retirement. There are bound to be better left-footed options available in free agency. I’d pursue almost any of them first. As for the returner, to borrow Schwartz’s phrase, I think it’s time to go to the bullpen and call Miller up from the practice squad. The team isn’t using Leshoure so I’d trade him for a 6th or 7th rounder and use that roster spot for Miller as a he can take over for Spurlock as a returner and can supply an explosive element to the backfield in Bush’s absence if an injury occurs.

    • Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Reply Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Sep 16, 2013 5:05 AM

      On Leshoure, truth be told he is inactive behind an undrafted free agent and a sixth round draft pick. As far as I know, he isn’t injured.

      Good luck with any trade, maybe get a seventh rounder in return. That position doesn’t hold the value in the NFL it once did.

    • Jeffrey A. Moore, TSB Lead Writer Reply Jeffrey A. Moore, TSB Lead Writer Sep 16, 2013 7:02 AM

      Spurlock is terrible and I wondered why we even retained him to begin with. Just another misstep in the stumbling of Schwartz’s career. Leshoure is the new K. Smith. Talent never developed by a pedestrian coaching staff. I think there is value there in a trade though. At this point, even a 7th round pick is better than nothing and keeping him around to contaminate the locker room.

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