Entering Sunday's contest against the New York Jets, it was expected that the absence of DT Shaun Rogers would affect the defense. But likely not to the extent that it did. With Marcus Bell and Cory Redding substituting in place of Rogers and Shaun Cody, the Jets tallied 221 rushing yards including 129 on 20 attempts by rookie Leon Washington. Entering the game, New York was ranked in the bottom half of the league with 97 rushing yards per contest, while the Lions limited the opposition to just 94 yards a game.
Washington, who also had two touchdowns on the day, helped keep Detroit's defense off-balance, allowing quarterback Chad Pennington to complete 72 percent of his throws.
Compounding the absence of Rogers and Cody was a lackluster performance by the Lions' linebacker core. Throughout the contest, Lions' linebackers Ernie Sims and Boss Bailey either over pursued, under pursued or missed tackles altogether.
Third down deficiency
While the Lions managed to convert just four of their 10 third down opportunities, the Jets made it look routine. New York exchanged 67 percent of their third down plays (8-12) into a fresh set of downs, holding the ball for 34 minutes compared to just 25 for Detroit.
The Lions only had one third down conversion in the entire first half alone.
Third down troubles have plagued Detroit throughout the season, as they are currently ranked 20th in the league in third-down completion percentage.
Speaking of deficiencies, the Lions penalty situation continues to worsen. Detroit entered as the league's fourth most penalized team, averaging just over seven per game. On Sunday, they committed nine penalties for 60 yards. The Jets, meanwhile, had just two on the day.
Six of Detroit's penalties were committed on the defense, including a 15-yard facemask on rookie Daniel Bullocks in the second half. Two of the team's offensive penalties were a result of false starts by tackle Jeff Backus, while the third -- a questionable hold on center Dominic Raiola -- negated a large gain by running back Kevin Jones.
While injuries (see below) are partially to blame for the team's lack of onfield cohesiveness, it is clear that self-proclaimed disciplinarian Rod Marinelli still has work to do.
Injuries affecting performance
The Lions were without eight of their 22 starters on Sunday, and that was felt the most on a makeshift offensive line.
Jon Kitna had little time to maneuver in the pocket against the Jets, and while he was only sacked once, he was rushed several times and made a handful of errant throws. The Lions also had three penalties on the offensive line, including the aforementioned two by left tackle Jeff Backus.
On defense, the absence of Cody and Rogers wasn't just noticeable -- it may have cost Detroit the game. And for the fourth time in seven games, the Lions have allowed over 30 points when missing a defensive starter, putting pressure on an offense that is equally unhealthy.
While it might be the perfect time for a bye week, entering an off-week with a 1-6 record yields little hope for anyone -- including the team itself.