Well that was awful. I don’t know what fared worse in Sunday’s massacre at the hands of the Ravens: Jim Schwartz’s stomach lining or Daunte Culpepper’s future job prospects. It’s the kind of game where once things started going wrong, the avalanche was not to be averted.
The tipping point was a long touchdown reception by Derrick Mason after two Lions defenders knocked each other senseless trying to tackle him. After a fairly decent first quarter performance, the Lions defense turned into the keystone cops. Ray Rice put up 166 rushing yards in the first half, and then Willis McGahee added another 76 and a couple of scores to close out the game. Raven’s QB Joe Flacco’s numbers weren’t eye-popping, but they didn’t have to be. He was efficient and effective, and once he got a feel for the Lions defensive scheme, it was all over.
The Lions offense wasn’t much better. Although the team ran the ball well for much of the game (at least until the score forced them to go almost exclusively to the air), fans could actually see the rust shining on Culpepper’s throwing arm. Drives consistently stalled, and the Lions only managed to get into the red zone once. To add injury to insult, running back Kevin Smith suffered what appears to be a major knee injury which will sideline him for the rest of the year.
In short, Sunday’s game was an unmitigated disaster.
After the game, Coach Jim Schwartz showed barely restrained rage at his team’s performance. At the post-game press conference, he seemed to indicate that personnel changes may be coming after the Ravens debacle. Sadly, with the team being “talent-depleted” through injury (and a decade of mismanagement) any major moves would be like rearranging deck chairs on the HMS Titanic.
Still, if Schwartz wants to change the culture in Detroit that says losing is the norm, maybe a shakeup is what the team needs. In a game where momentum means so much, Schwartz needs to find a way to finish the season on an upswing. From what the Lions showed on Sunday, he will need every ounce of coaching skill he has to do it – and more than a little luck.