The first quarter of the NFL season is done and the Detroit Lions are 1-3, a record that is as much deserved as it is surprising.
For a sober reflection of what went wrong in the most recent of three consecutive losses, one needs to look no further than the comments made by the team's head coach.
"We're 1-3 right now because we deserve to be 1-3," said head coach Jim Schwartz. "Opening kickoff, one of our major points this week was what we needed to do on kickoff because we knew (Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy) Harvin's a threat… Great kick by (Lions kicker) Jason (Hanson). We knew he could bring it out. We didn't get guys off blocks and we gave up a touchdown.
"The other one – honestly, I thought we were going to force a fumble on the play. We had a free guy and I couldn't believe he didn't fair catch the ball. He ran through one tackle and we did an absolutely poor job."
Schwartz took a breath and continued.
"But that wasn't it all," he said. "Two defensive pass interference penalties set up their only (offensive) scores. Five or six sacks; we couldn't run the ball against good looks to run the football. We dropped touchdown passes and we fumbled the ball in the plus territory. And that's why when I say we deserve to be 1-3, those are the reasons."
Schwartz's laundry list of failed plays and missed opportunities is an accurate yet stark synopsis of his team's performance.
The Lions entered the season with high expectations and a desire to build on the team's first playoff appearance since 1999, so entering the bye week two games below .500 is not a desirable position for this group.
"It's frustrating, obviously you don't like losing football games," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Offense, defense, special teams – everybody's had a hand in it. We deserve our record, obviously. We are what we are. Got a bye-week coming up – got to do what we need to do to rectify some things and find a way, on offense, to get the ball in the endzone and win some games"
Stafford's sentiments – namely about frustration relating to losing – is shared across the locker room. However, there is no finger-pointing.
"We're a team, we play together," said Stafford. "Everybody's had a hand in every one of these. We have to find a way to tighten it up a little bit in each phase."
Stafford continued, offering the reason why his – and his teammate's – speak of collective camaraderie and continued confidence in one another is more than the regular rhetoric uttered by professional athletes.
"We've got the talent," he said. "It's not the players, it's not the scheme. It's just guys executing, going out and making plays. Not shooting ourselves in the foot and just got to stay ahead of the chains, keep it moving and find ways for us to score on offense."
There is resounding disappointment and frustration in the Lions locker room but there is no disbelief. In fact, there seems to still be strong confidence.
"I think once we get all three phases going I think we're unstoppable," said defensive end Cliff Avril. "It's just about getting all three phases going."
The good news for the Lions is that there is time to push the season back on track. They have a difficult schedule ahead of them and it will be an uphill battle but they still believe they are equipped to climb that hill.
"It's discouraging but I've been on teams where early on the season and you have a start like this and you realize you might as well start figuring out what beach you're laying on in January," said wide receiver Nate Burleson. "You've already got your mind made up because you know your team doesn't have what it takes. It's a different story in this locker room.
"I'm not just talking about from a spirit stand point… I'm saying we have the technology, the playmakers, we have the right coaches. We have what we need to be successful for the rest of the season."
The first quarter of the season didn't go as expected for the Lions, but they've proven they can climb out of first-quarter deficits many times in the recent past. Following this weekend's bye, they'll have another opportunity.