(ALLEN PARK) - The secret is out. The Lions have the worst offense in the National Football League (actually second worst, rank 31st of 32) and there's no hiding behind giveaway/takeaway ratio or special teams play anymore.
Detroit got two punt returns for touchdowns by their soon to be pro bowl returner Eddie Drummond but couldn't overcome a terrible performance by starter Joey Harrington who completed just 11-of-33 for 121 yards (32.5 passer rating) and was outplayed by career journeyman David Garrard.
There's no hiding or making excuses for Harrington's second straight awful performance. He overthrew, underthrew and threw wildly all game long. He had a critical third-and-six pass to a wide open Shawn Bryson batted down, taking away a sure first down to keep a drive alive. He inexplicably threw wildly on fourth down to David Kircus when Bryson was wide open again.
When Harrington did connect his receivers, (most notably) tight end Shawn Alexander dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone. Kevin Jones added three more drops on swing passes out of the backfield.
Jones ruined his best rushing performance of the season (19 carries for 81 yards) with his case of the dropsies.
Even Jason Hanson is showing signs of aging, missing a chip shot 32 yard field goal after Detroit extended his contract for four more seasons. With the game on the line in overtime, safety Brock Marion was unable to contest completions to the Jaguars Jimmy Smith until Garrard connected with Smith on the game winning 36-yard touchdown.
With Detroit under the .500 mark for the first time this season, it's time for Lions head coach Steve Mariucci to consider making some serious changes.
Everything is up for consideration. Does Joey Harrington deserve to keep his starting job? Harrington has played three consecutive sub par games. He isn't even managing the game effectively let alone making plays.
Marion may be a saavy veteran, but how long can Detroit keep him on the field when he can't cover the necessary ground needed from the safety position? The same is true of veteran Bracey Walker. Detroit fields the oldest starting safety tandem in the NFL.
Is it time to cut the cord with Az-Zahir Hakim? Hakim played well a week ago, but this isn't what Detroit expected of the investment they made when they signed him to a five-year $16 million deal.
Above all, where is the fire, the passion and the emotion that football players need when they go to the field? Detroit never seems to possess the kind of disposition needed to overcome adversity with that "refuse-to-lose" attitude that playoff teams have.
If the Lions are serious about building something good here, they need to take a long look at the roster and make some hard choices.
While Detroit is likely a year away from being a real playoff team, there's no excuse for the inept performances that Lions fans have had to stomach three of the last four weeks.
Detroit has to find playmakers and not be afraid of getting rid of pretenders taking up valuable roster spots. If not, they may still be a year away next season.
PFT: Time for Lions to Consider Sweeping Changes
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