The Detroit Lions’ defense is playing well enough to win a playoff game.
Special teams has to tighten up. They allowed a punt return for a touchdown early Sunday. Not acceptable.
Then there’s the offense. Not sure if it’s Matthew Stafford or the play-calling. Or the offensive line protection or the receivers. The run game has come around in the past few weeks.
Where do you start evaluating Stafford?
A week ago, Lions coach Jim Caldwell defended his young quarterback.
Specifically he said: “Let me just tell you something, he’s a man’s man, he’s a tough guy, he gets hit out there every single ball game, he hangs in there, and there may be one he’d like to have back but then there’s a couple others that’s probably not all his fault ...”
And Caldwell added that he thought much of the criticism came from the local media.
That said, Stafford needs to play better than he did in the 30-20 loss at Green Bay if the Lions are to have a chance at beating the Cowboys on Sunday in Dallas (kickoff 4:40 p.m.).
FOX had a stat during Sunday’s game that said Stafford is 0-16 on the road against teams with winning records. The stat should read Stafford and the Lions.
It’s tough to evaluate Stafford because he’s not a one-man band. Receivers need to get open, run the right routes and catch the ball when it’s close.
Sunday he was playing with rookies at center and right tackle. For most of the game Garrett Reynolds at right guard after Larry Warford was injured. It's remarkable he was only sacked twice. He didn’t have much time to get the ball out. He does seem better at deciding when to throw the ball away.
While tight end Eric Ebron is improving, he still plays like a rookie at times.
Stafford was 20 of 41 for 217 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
It’s key that he didn’t have a turnover.
But he threw eight straight incompletions. His fault, the receivers’ fault? Let’s blame all parties.
Caldwell's message after the game was that playoffs is an all new season. We'll see if the offense can take a step in the right direction.