The Detroit Lions dropped to 0-3 after Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers. But that wasn't the worst part, however. For the second consecutive week, the Lions were out hustled, outplayed and out coached -- this time on their own turf, and by what most analysts consider an inferior opponent.
Where's The 'D'?
Following last week's performance at Chicago, there was a heavy concern over Detroit's secondary, which allowed a ridiculous passer completion percentage (79) coming into the game. And after Brett Favre's 25-for-36, 340-yard, three touchdown performance, the panic alarm has been sounded. Each quarterback the Lions have faced (Hasselbeck, Grossman, Favre) have easily reached the century mark in QB rating, but the issue goes well beyond pass coverage.
Against a Packers offensive line that featured two rookie guards, the Lions never registered a sack and rarely applied pressure to Favre. Shaun 'Big Baby' Rogers was a relative no-show, recording four tackles, but even Detroit's blitz packages were rendered useless. The result was an accommodating pocket, with plenty of time for Favre to shred the Lions' defense. Favre and the Packers averaged 9.4 yards per completion, converting 47 percent of their third down opportunities
Even more of a concern is that the Packers were relatively one-dimensional. They ran the ball collectively for less than 60 yards, but even with one facet of the offense a dead stick, they were still able to expose Detroit's passing defense.
It was the second consecutive week that Detroit has failed to garner a sack.
In the days leading up to Sunday's contest, Lions' offensive coordinator Mike Martz beamed confidently of the team's offense. Despite registering just 13 points in two games, Martz was of the mindset that his players were finally coming together on offense: he was right. Jon Kitna tossed for 342 yards (the most by a Lions' quarterback since 2004), on 25-of-40 passing and two touchdowns. Kitna's one interception was more fluke than error, although it ultimately decided the game.
Kitna's completions went to eight different receivers, led by Roy Williams' seven receptions for 138 yards.
While the Lions will take any positives they can at this point, the Packers did enter the game with the second-to-worst pass defense in the league (Houston). The Detroit passing game was also given a boost by its running attack, as Kevin Jones ran well, collecting 81 yards on 17 carries.
Martz and Kitna will have a chance to prove next week whether or not the offense has finally gelled, facing a top 10 pass defense at St. Louis.
Lions' defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson and Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli had absolutely no strategic answer for Brett Favre. Where most teams would make an adjustment, especially at halftime, Detroit maintained the status quo and paid dearly. Given their advantage within the trenches, there was no excuse for the team failing to take advantage of an inexperienced Packers' offensive line.
Offensively, Martz made a few precarious calls -- including a failed, third down pitch to Kevin Jones late in the game -- but was otherwise masterful. Martz used the running game efficiently, and the team limited its penalties.
As one fan in The Den message board pointed out, perhaps Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli underestimated the losing culture that is the Detroit Lions. After it became apparent that they had no answer for Brett Favre (this happened in the first quarter), the air came out of Detroit's defense and the crowd never really factored in. The Lions offense would occasionally offer a spark, but it was evident from the team's onfield demeanor that the game was in the hands of Brett Favre rather than their own.
But Marinelli's biggest challenge after a third consecutive loss, and yet another home loss, will be keeping the collective chin of the team 'up.' Marinelli ran the team ragged with an excruciating training camp, assisted by two taskmasters in both Henderson and Martz. Hard work needs to eventually pay off, and that means results. With a team already accustomed to losing, if Sunday's loss isn't the straw that breaks the camel's back, a defeat next week just might be.