Here are some of my quick thoughts and observations from the Detroit Lions Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans:
- The officiating in this contest is something that should be scrutinised. Brad Allen and his team should not be blamed for the outcome of the game but there were several controversial calls - not the least of which was Eric Ebron's offensive pass interference call on a touchdown with 1:40 left in the second quarter. There was nothing even close to pass interference on the call and that took six points off the board in a one-point loss.
- Caldwell indicated that this officiating crew had a higher propensity to calling penalties than the average game-day crew. "Obviously, you can look at the stats for that particular group and see they were fairly high. We've just got to do our job, don't worry about all that stuff," said Caldwell after the game.
- Speaking of Ebron, the Lions have to get him more involved in the offense. He's the most athletically gifted playmaker they have and he is showing he can make plays. He put the team in a good spot with an outstanding grab for 29 yards with about a minute left to play. He hurdled a defender to pick up an extra four or five yards on his first catch of the game and can be a matchup nightmare. He saw as many targets as Anquan Boldin in this game - and with all due respect to Boldin - that shouldn't be the case.
- Golden Tate was targeted nine times and came away with only two catches for 13 yards. This might have been Tate's worst game in a Lions uniform. He didn't seem to be on the same page as Stafford and wasn't his normal sure-handed self. His drop on a catchable - but not perfect - sideline throw on 3rd down with 7:22 left in the game would have changed the outcome. The Lions punted on the next play and the Titans marched for 83 yards and the winning touchdown on the next drive.
- Tate is at his best when he's accumulating yards of the catch and making the defender miss. He seems to excel when he's attacking the ball on an underneath route and then using his agility to make a defender miss. In today's game, it seemed like there were too any sideline, over-the-shoulder shots to Tate. That's not accentuating his strengths and - unless he has significant separation from his defender - the quarterback has a very small window to fit the ball into due Tate's lack of stature.
- Although Devin Taylor stepped up with a big game, the Lions really missed Ansah - who left with an ankle injury on the first series of the game. The Lions couldn't muster a pass rush late in the game and the Titans took full advantage by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. The Lions need to do a better job of creating more consistent pressure and - if Ansah misses any time - the pressure will be on others to step up.
- Bob Quinn did a great job of addressing some of the team's needs this offseason but it's clear that there are some holes on this roster. The team invested in Tahir Whitehead to be a three-down linebacker and he's appeared to be a coverage liability so far this season - and seemed to be the player most at fault in coverage on Andre Johnson's game-winning TD.
- Staying at linebacker, the depth got exposed today. With Levy out, it was already going to be difficult. However, the team also lost Antwione Williams and Kyle Van Noy. Many teams would be hard pressed to lose three linebackers but it's also a discouraging sign when you're only two injuries away from a defensive end (Brandon Copeland) having to play linebacker - even in nickel packages. The Titans were able to exploit the middle of the field and probably didn't take advantage of the mismatches as often as they could have.
- The Lions can still bounce back from this and - despite the extremely sloppy play in this game - there are encouraging signs from their offense. This can still be a good football team that challenges for a playoff spot. Next week's game in Green Bay could determine just where this team ends up.