Lions-49ers postgame thoughts
Can I take it back? My post from the other day, the one where I wrote that the Lions aren't No.-1-overall-pick bad? Three weeks into the season, three horrible losses and three lifeless starts later, I'd like to change my mind.
Kansas City and St. Louis might be worse. Oakland could have a new coach by daybreak tomorrow. Miami's bad, but it just snapped New England's 21-game regular-season win streak.
The Lions? They'll find a way to win three games this year, NFL teams always do. But there's not a sure thing left on the schedule. Chicago at home in two weeks? Washington? Maybe Thanksgiving against a surprising Tennessee team or Oct. 19 at Houston?
I'm guilty of overestimating the Lions' talent. I didn't think they were world beaters by any means, but I didn't realize just how mediocre the defense is or how bland the offense can be.
Lions coach Rod Marinelli has no concrete answers for what ails his team, publicly at least. Deep down I'm sure he knows how bereft of talent his roster is, but he'll never admit as much. Instead, he's left repeating lines like this one he uttered Sunday: "We've got to make plays. Players and coaches both. We've got to make plays and we're not doing that."
Marinelli promised changes when the Lions return from their bye week, only there aren't a lot of moves he can make. At some point this year, Drew Stanton will take over as quarterback (Jon Kitna sprained a knee Sunday, but I think Stanton's day is still a few weeks away). On defense, Marinelli said the Lions will blitz more.
Truth is, the Lions lack the playmakers up front to be anything other than ordinary. They've forced one turnover and have three sacks through three games, and Sunday against a San Francisco team that ranked last in the NFL in both categories they had one sack and no takeaways.
After the game, receiver Roy Williams did his best to stay positive about what looks like a lost season, but even he didn't sound convinced.
"We got a chance to turn it around," he said. "We're in the NFC, maybe 8-8 will get you in."
A few more post-49ers thoughts to end the night:
San Francisco quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was sacked eight times last week. The Lions got to him once. "They moved the pocket, obviously," defensive end Dewayne White said. "And then he didn't look to throw the ball when we did put pressure on him. He took off running, which it's hard to get sacks when he's making decisions like the pocket collapses and I'm gone."
How bleak are the Lions' hopes now? Just five teams in NFL history have started 0-3 and reached the playoffs. The Bills a decade ago are the last team to do it. The 1995 Lions they finished 10-6 also are on the list.
Jordon Dizon missed Sunday's game with a neck injury, but there's no reason for the Lions to keep him on the bench now. Ryan Nece filled Dizon's spot as the backup middle linebacker against San Fran. He got burned down the middle by Delanie Walker for the 49ers' third touchdown.
Right guard Stephen Peterman, who fractured his hand in the fourth quarter, on the Lions ugly start: "It sucks, man. It sucks. We start in like March 1, I remember coming back, starting workouts, go up through the whole damn offseason, doing the running, pushing sleds, OTAs, meetings, getting the new offense, feel excited and just now it just sucks because there's so much hard work a lot of guys have put in. Everybody thought it was the right chemistry here and for some reason we're just not winning, and it sucks because we put in the work. I don't know what to say."