Lions lose in embarrassing fashion to Tampa Bay Bucs

After the embarrassing 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs, the Detroit Lions can look for answers but it’s unlikely that they will find them with just one week left in the season.

Saturday’s loss was the worst mix of bad luck and lack of talent for the Lions. NFL COVID quarantine rules kept interim coach Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and other defensive assistants out of the game. 

“We’re not going to make any excuses, we had our team, they had their team and they outperformed us today,’’ said interim interim coach Robert Prince who filled in for Bevell.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford rolled his right ankle in the first quarter and was not able to return.

And, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady ate his Wheaties for breakfast or whatever the equivalent is on his organic, plant-based, nutrient rich TB12 diet. He was on fire with four touchdown passes and a perfect 158.3 rating. He was replaced by Blaine Gabbert early in the third in a smart move by Bucs coach Bruce Arians. The game was over.

The Lions (5-10) have already started the search for a permanent head coach and a general manager. If any candidates watched Saturday’s mess, they might take a hard pass on moving to Detroit or even visiting for an interview. 

“On offense we couldn’t’ stay on the field and on defense we couldn’t get off the field,’’ Prince said. “I think our defense played hard and had an opportunity to get off the field early in that first drive, it got extended (due to a LIons’ penalty) and they ended up getting a few more plays.’’

The Lions defense stinks. Has been bad all season — it cost Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn their jobs. Saturday’s abysmal showing didn’t just happen because Undlin was on COVID quarantine. It would have been bad no matter what. 

They gave up more points than they had all season. And to top that, the LIons defense gave up 588 yards which is a franchise record. The previous high was 566 yards in a game against Kansas City in 1990.

“I would not just blame the defense by any means, it’s a team game. Obviously it was great to get that score by the special teams to come through,’’ Prince said regarding Jamal Agnew’s punt return for a touchdown. “Offensively we have to stay on the field, if we’re not on the field very long for offense and the defense has to stay on obviously it’s going to be tough for them and they’re going to wear out. It was a team loss and it started with me.’’

The offense can be decent. We’ve seen good signs with Bevell making the calls without Matt Patricia in his ear. But Stafford is the engine that runs it and he was out early. He couldn’t even put weight on his foot at first. He hopped into the locker room on one leg, a move he might have picked up from his 3-year-old twins.

So the offense was nowhere near decent on Saturday, converting just one of 10 third-down attempts. They were held scoreless and to just 186 total yards.

Stafford is still dealing with injured ribs. Too soon to know if he will be healthy enough to play next Sunday against the Vikings. He’s tough and will want to play, don’t bet against him.

It’s a sad situation for the Lions. The Bucs were able to take advantage of the Lions many weaknesses. It’s almost the end of a lousy year and this nightmare of a game was one of the worst this season.

Prince said he didn’t think it was a hopeless situation, but from this seat it certainly looked like it.

(Up next: Minnesota Vikings at Lions, 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 3)

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Patriots’ QB Tom Brady still going strong at 42 during workout with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — After a grinding joint practice with the Detroit Lions on Monday morning, the New England Patriots ran hill drills and then sang happy birthday to their quarterback, Tom Brady.

“It was a different rendition of  the traditional happy birthday but it was nice,’’ said Brady who turned 42 on Saturday.

On Sunday he signed a two-year contract extension worth $23 million for this season, per ESPN. It was hardly a surprise since Brady has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and has defied age for the past few years.

“Just had a great history, I love playing quarterback here, I love this team, the organization, Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Jonathan (Kraft), coach (Bill) Belichick, all the coaches, all the players,’’ Brady said. “The focus this year is on what we have to do so that’s where I’m focused. That’s all that really matters in the end. That’s what this team expects for me to put everything in it like I always have and I’m real excited for the year. This was good competition today we needed it to see where we’re at and try to make quite a few corrections, go out there tomorrow and see if we can do better.’’

Brady looked sharp during the workouts completing a high percentage of his passes against the Lions’ defense in team drills and seven-on-sevens.

The joint practices will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the first preseason game for both teams at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Ford Field.

Current Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola, who played for five seasons with the Patriots, is not surprised by Brady’s success and longevity.

“He works extremely hard, he’s very deserving of all he’s got,’’ Amendola said. “I’m happy for him, he’s a good friend. Any time I get to watch him play football is good.’’

Brady was peppered with questions about the future beyond 2021. He has said he wants to play until he’s 45 and seems to be headed in the right direction.

“I’m not worked up about it, I’m secure for this year I think — I got a few first-team reps out there,’’ Brady said with a smile.

“It’s a unique situation. I’m 20 years with the same team, I’ll be 42 years old it’s pretty much uncharted territory,’’ Brady added.

His health is the key for his longevity. In the past 10 years the only games he’s missed was for a four-game suspension in 2016.

“You’ve got to take care of your body. I wrote a book on it literally, I live by it and I think it’s given me pretty good results,’’ said Brady, the author of “The TB12 Method.” “I try to pass it on to the next generation so they don’t have to go through the same mistakes I did. Everyone learns different ways. Hopefully I can be an inspiration, I’ve got a great opportunity to prove to a lot of people they didn’t think I could do it and hopefully I can. Well done is better than well said.’’

“He can play forever,’’ Amendola said.

Brady just loves the game and it shows.

His eyes lit up when he was asked if it was good to be back in the state of Michigan.

“I love it, I love it,’’ he said.

After all he played his college ball 34 miles west of the Lions facility at the University of Michigan.

 

 

Lions run game shows steady gains week to week; Matthew Stafford improves too

Successful run game sparks win over Patriots

The Lions had a huge opportunity to get in the win column against the Patriots and took advantage of it with a 26-10 win on Sunday night.

No fluke plays, no bad calls by the officials, just solid play.

The Lions defense wouldn’t let Tom Brady sustain drives at all in the first half. The Patriots’ first three drives were three-and-outs.

Meanwhile Matthew Stafford, who didn’t look like himself in the first six quarters of the opening losses, had command. Credit the offensive line with giving him so much time in the pocket. Also, the line opened up lanes for the running backs. The Lions aren’t looking for a 50-50 run-pass ratio, but they need to be effective running the all which did not happen last season.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Afterward, Stafford called it a true team win. It was huge. An 0-3 start is much tougher to overcome than starting 1-2.

“They’re a really good football team, well coached. But we needed this one. It was great to have them come into our place on a big stage and be able to do something like that,’’ a smiling Stafford said afterward.

Here are three categories where the Lions have improved week to week:

The running game which was a big emphasis in the offseason seems to be on track. The duo of veteran LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson may be the answer. They also got big help from the blocking by the offensive line.

Week 1 – 39 yards, 2.6 yards per carry

Week 2 – 98 yards, 5.4 yards per carry

Week 3 – 159 yards, 4.8 yards per carry.

Stafford’s completion percentage has climbed week to week. Actually in the win over the Patriots he had less passing yards than the previous two games. But that’s a good thing, because he was able to depend on the run game. An ideal average for passing completion is at least 62 percent.

Week 1 – 58.7 percent, 286 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs

Week 2 – 64.2 percent, 347 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT

Week 3 – 75 percent, 262 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Third-down conversions usually are a telling statistic. The Lions were dreadful on third downs in the opening loss to the Jets. They have improve steadily each week.

Week 1 – 3-of-13, 23 percent

Week 2 – 7 of 16, 44 percent

Week 3 – 7 of 14, 50 percent

Coach Matt Patricia enjoyed his first win as an NFL coach. He’s not counting on momentum to carry the Lions on Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys (1-2).

“It’s hard. You’d like to, you know, you’d obviously like to get that (momentum) you know if you could week in and week out, but I think each week is different in the NFL. I mean, it’s so hard, it’s different, it’s not the same every week, so you really almost have to reset every single week and you know, you grind it out, you play the game, you empty the tank, you come back in the next day and you start filling it back up and get ready for the next game,’’ Patricia said. “And that’s what we got to do every week. It’s just too hard.’’