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)