The clock is ticking for head coach Jim Schwartz. After the second half debacle against the Patriots on Thanksgiving, the Lions seem no closer in turning this franchise around. Even though the Lions led at halftime, they continue to give up big plays in the second half and then suddenly give in to the opposing team. Against New England with the Lions leading 24-17 in the 3rd quarter, QB Tom Brady found WR Deion Branch wide open for a 79 yard TD pass. The Lions and their fans were stunned and the players had the ole ‘here we go again’ look. The Patriots scored 3 more times and embarrassed the Lions 45-24.
With a 2-9 record, the Lions are battling the 1-10 Carolina Panthers for top spot in April’s NFL Draft. Unlike other recent years, no one knows what will happen in the off-season with no collective bargaining agreement. Hopefully, the rookie scale will be adjusted so untested rookies are not getting $40 million in guarantee money. That would benefit the Lions as they already have huge bonus money tied up in 2007 #2 pick WR Calvin Johnson, 2009 #1 pick QB Matthew Stafford, and 2010 #2 pick DT Ndamukong Suh. Adding another Top 3 pick will add more burden to the Lions down the road unless the rookie salary cap is adjusted. It’s sad Lions’ fans have to start looking at the draft year after year in November while most teams are looking on how to get into the playoffs.
So with 5 games left, what do the Lions do next since they have no shot at the playoffs? The first is to win a game at home against a playoff caliber team such as the Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers. The Bears come to town on Sunday and the Lions felt they should have won the first time they played the Bears - remember the Calvin Johnson TD catch being ruled incomplete since he did not complete the process. After doing that, the Lions need to end the 26 game road losing streak either against Tampa Bay or Miami. Accomplishing those couple of things will go a long way with how critics perceive Jim Schwartz and the Lions. It will also start building some momentum and maybe steer the Lions into the right direction.
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Written by Bob Ballard