Now What Do The Detroit Lions Do?

Now What Do The Detroit Lions Do?

Admit it. You know that you were like me. You watched the Lions rip through their last three games and started to drink the Kool-Aid again. After taking a break from having hope after losing to the Titans, throttled by the Packers and not showing up against the Bears, your hope had been slowly rebuilding. Matthew Stafford’s fourth quarter magic made us believe. Hope was back. The Lions were being mentioned among winners, and even ESPN paid attention to them over the past week. That never happens!

The Lions were riding a wave of momentum that we fans haven’t seen since they started 5-0 way back in the Jim Schwartz era. There was no way the Lions would fall to Brock Osweiler and the Texans mediocre offense. Right? The hope train was full steam ahead!

Then the game happened.

The offensive line looked shaky again and there was no running game. Drops hit the receiving corps. Prater missed another makeable kick. Stafford was just good (maybe even just fair) instead of great. And the defense! Phew. What a mess. In the first half, they couldn’t cover tight ends, leading to a 14-3 deficit. In the second half, and most importantly, the fourth quarter, they couldn’t stop the run at all. Even with a loaded box, knowing the Texans were going to hand off to Lamar Miller or Alfred Blue. The Texans just bullied around the Lions’ front seven when they just needed to get off the field.

[graphiq id=”jo0xHyN1svH” title=”Detroit Lions at Houston Texans on October 30th, 2016 – Boxscore” width=”600″ height=”370″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/jo0xHyN1svH” link=”http://nfl-games.pointafter.com/l/20399/Detroit-Lions-at-Houston-Texans-on-October-30th-2016″ link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

So here we are — 4-4 at the mid-point. The easy half of our schedule is behind us and we have no way of improving, unless the mysterious DeAndre Levy comes back to play at a high level, which most fans seem to think (myself included) that we will never see Levy play meaningful action again in a Lions’ uniform.

[graphiq id=”d26J5xvfVlj” title=”Detroit Lions 2016 Schedule” width=”400″ height=”1000″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/d26J5xvfVlj” link=”http://nfl-teams.pointafter.com/l/21/Detroit-Lions” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Where are fans to go to release their anger? Their frustration at seeing the same things game after game, the same defensive ineptitude, the weakness on the front lines. Clearly, there is only one solution to our problem: fire the head coach. Now! When we look unprepared for each and every road game, the coach should be the guy to shoulder the most blame. Toss in the fact that Caldwell’s…um… logic?… was questionable at numerous points throughout the game, and it’s natural for fans to turn on the head coach. Whether you’re angry at Caldwell for not throwing the challenge flag on the DeAndre Hopkins catch/fumble (or dropped pass?), or the questionable decision to onside kick, or the general lack of looking like he has a clue, there are plenty of reasons to call for Bob Quinn to bounce Caldwell out of Detroit.

Before we get rash, however, let’s stop and think this through. Let’s face facts. There aren’t a bunch of coaches pounding down the door in the middle of the season to become the Lions’ head coach. Our options are, at this point, Teryl Austin, the currently-maligned defensive coordinator, or his counterpart on the other side of the ball, Jim Bob Cooter. While the masses would…ahem…call for Cooter… is this a wise choice? Do we want JBC removed from Matthew Stafford by any measure? Odds are that a new coach might get overwhelmed by the other duties he would incur by taking over mid-season, leaving his normal duties to another coach. Is this what you really want? I, for one, don’t. I think that JBC and Stafford need each other more than we know. The evidence we have is pretty convincing — look at Stafford from just a year ago, when Joe Lombardi was his offensive coordinator. Then look at not just his stats, but also his actual performance since then: Stafford is a much improved quarterback under Cooter. Let’s leave him there.

That leaves Austin. A year ago, Austin not getting a head coaching job looked like a slap in the face. This guy was a hot commodity, and rightfully so. He was leading a decent defense in spite of losing his two best players (Ndamakong Suh and the previously mentioned Levy). However, this year, Austin looks lost. He’s done a pretty good job with the tools he has — which is to say a few sticks and some dried grass — but at some point you shouldn’t have to completely sacrifice defending the tight end in order to stop the run. Case Keenum shouldn’t have better numbers than Tom Brady, no matter who your middle linebacker is. Austin’s star has fallen, and I’m watching for signs that the defense is turning on him. So is that the guy you want leading your team?

So let’s pump the brakes on ditching Caldwell. There’s nothing to be gained this year. Let’s be the first to spin the coaching carousel in the offseason, when we can bring in someone new and fresh who will have a year to work with his own staff. I can’t believe I am saying it, but Caldwell needs to stay… for now.

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