Column: Weak One

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Weak One

Paul Wezner -

The title should describe the Lions first game of the season, instead it describes their performance in the first game.

The offense couldn’t sustain a drive, the defense couldn’t tackle, and Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg lost his first game as Lions coach in embarrassing fashion. But, at least the special teams looked good.

Coming into the year most people assumed that the defense would be the strength of the team, and might even have to carry the offense at the beginning of the season, however the defense performed just as bad as the offense, if not worse. The Lions were missing three-fourths of their starting Secondary, and they just cut Defensive Tackle James Jones to help free up salary cap space to add a defensive back, and it seemed like the Secondary wasn’t ready for the jump from backup to starter while the Offensive Line looked like they could have used a veteran presence like Jones.

Charlie Batch, despite putting up somewhat respectable numbers, was not able to see wide open receivers all game long, and even when he did find an open receiver, he had trouble making the throw to complete the pass. His play was so poor that Mornhinweg has decided that he’s already seen enough, and will start recently acquired backup Ty Detmer this Sunday against Dallas. The move may be a little premature, however Batch has done nothing to prove thusfar that he’s capable of running this system.

While there is no guarantee this is a permanent move, we can more than likely assume that Charlie Batch’s run as the Detroit Lions starting Quarterback is over. While he was still learning the system, Batch’s accuracy and decision-making seemed just as poor as they have been in the past, and those are things that just can’t be fixed.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions showed where their weaknesses are. The defensive line, for all the praise it received in the preseason, is still missing key components. One of those two will return when DT Luther Elliss is completely healthy. The other should have been replaced in the offseason, but wasn’t. The Lions are still missing that dominating edge-rusher at Right Defensive End that forces offenses to work around that player. Elliss is great at collapsing the pocket and sniffing out screens, but he’s not a double-digit sack player. Robert Porcher’s best days are probably behind him, and the same goes for Tracy Scroggins. Also, the Lions showed their lack of speed in their Linebacking corp., and when you don’t have speed missed tackles cannot happen.

With the benching of Batch, the destruction of the Bobby Ross team is under way. The Offensive Line has already seen some changes, and I’m sure some more will be in store. Expect the defensive personnel to change quite a bit over the next offseason as well, to fit Vince Tobin’s attacking style.

However, it’s only one game and there are still 15 left.

This Sunday, the Lions play the Dallas Cowboys, who are very possibly the worst team in the NFL this season. The offense plans on running some of the option to play to the strengths of starting Quarterback Quincy Carter (hey, now what do you think Dallas would give for Batch?). If the defense can shut down the 'mighty' Cowboy attack and the offense looks improved from Sunday’s debacle, there’s still hope. If the Lions lose however, it might be time to start looking at the 2002 NFL Draft, a pretty sad thought for it being the week after Labor Day.

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