Matthew Stafford is set up for failure

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By H. Jose Bosch

At least we know the Lions can score points when they’re spoon fed good field position. Unfortunately that’s about the only thing they could do right on Sunday afternoon.

So, to quickly recap: the Lions best offense is a … bad opposing offense. I’m not even giving the defense credit when you consider what happened the rest of the game.

But let’s zero in on more than just the fact that Detroit blew a 17-point first-quarter lead. The real story of the week is, “just how bad/good is matt Stafford?”

On paper alone he looks real bad. He’s thrown 12 interceptions to just five touchdowns. His completion percentage is just about 54 percent. (Compare that to Payton Manning, who has thrown 99 more passes and leads the league in percentage with 70 percent). And his passer rating is 55.9, fourth-worst in the league.

But in person … he looks even worse. Not one of his FIVE interceptions was the result of good defense, unless catching a ball with two hands counts. Stafford misfired badly on all those throws, sometimes throwing into triple coverage when I’m sure he could’ve checked down to an open receiver for a couple of yards.

And all I saw were the interceptions. The only time I’ve seen Stafford for a whole game, Detroit’s lone win over the Redskins, Stafford was overthrowing receivers badly. So I have to believe that the interceptions weren’t the only instance of Stafford missing the mark.

But knowing he sucks isn’t as important as why he sucks.

Detroit doesn’t have a good running game. It also doesn’t have a very good offensive line. Oh, and the defense isn’t anything to write home about either. In other words, the Detroit Lions are a crappy team. Jesus Christ could line up behind center and still couldn’t hit 60 percent of his passes. Throw a rookie back there and it’s even worse.

That’s not to say Stafford shouldn’t get any of the blame. Even when he has time to throw he tends to be erratic. And as I mentioned earlier, he’s sometimes throwing into double and triple coverage, which means he still isn’t reading defenses properly.

But this kid has talent. Every quarterback in the league has talent. You can’t make it to that level without it. What he needs is a better team around him and for the owner, William Clay Ford, to completely clean house. Without that, he won’t last more than three years in the league.

This season is a success only because Detroit has won a game. They might even win a couple of more down the end of the rode when they play other teams that are just as sorry as them (Cleveland, Chicago and San Francisco). But it’s already a failure because there doesn’t appear to be any forward progress within the organization.

The old Lions would blow a 17-point first-quarter lead. These new Lions are doing just the same thing.

Bears-Lions Exchange

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Paul M. Banks and H. Jose Bosch preview Bears-Lions on Sunday

(PMB) Wow!!! Your Lions won! What is the world coming to? Of course, Detroit also once produced a very good and well-accomplished Caucasian hip-hop artist, so I know the Motor City can be “where amazing happens.”

After all four teams in the NFC North won for the first time since Week 10 of the 2005 season (I think we can guess which team has held the league back those four years!!), the Bears remain tied for second place in the division with the Green Bay Packers (2-1), one game behind the Minnesota Vikings (3-0) and one game ahead of the suddenly sizzling Lions. With that torrid winning streak the Lions are on, should the rest of the division be wary of the footsteps behind them? Is this a new Golden Age for the NFC North?staffordgrinding

(HJB) Of course the rest of the division should be scared! OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the time will come where the Lions aren’t an easy two wins on the schedule. Is that time now? I wouldn’t go that far yet. This week’s game will go a long way in answering that question. But if the Lions give the Bears a good game or (dare I say) win, the NFC North should watch out. Especially the Bears, who travel to Detroit to end the season.

(PMB) I noticed the Lions are 30th in pass defense, so the area expected to be Detroit’s biggest weakness (and that really says something..it’s like being the shortest midget, or the fattest sumo wrestler) is their secondary. I’ve accepted the fact that the Bears WRs are not as bad as I once thought, but do you think they’re mediocre enough to give the DBs some burn marks, complementing their Honolulu Blue and silver?
(HJB) On most weeks all you need are two legs, two hands and a heartbeat and you’ll beat the Detroit secondary. But I wouldn’t put it past any receiver missing a limb to have a career day against the Lions secondary. I’ve only watched one game this season (and they won!) and Washington clearly didn’t fear the DBs. Just 13 runs the entire game for the Skins.Detroit couldn’t get pressure on the quarterback or cover the receivers. Santana Moss had a big day. The only confidence I have is that the Bears tend to play down to their opponents rather than crushing them. But Cutler may change that. Is he a fantasy free agent?

(PMB) Possibly, you’ll have to go on the open market and check. Good joke about the Detroit secondary. On the flip side, tell me about the youngster Cliff Avril, is he the real deal? And what about this year’s crop of rookies, do you think they’re ready to defend Chicago’s VAUNTED 28th ranked rushing attack?

I don’t think it’s all Forte’s fault. Yes, he’s looked bad, but how do you “run to daylight” when your offensive line never lets you see any? The OL has been pretty bad, as it’s been incessant nighttime for Forte through the first three games.

(HJB) You mean 2008 Sporting News All-rookie team member Cliff Avril? He clearly had a good first season, but he injured his hamstring the first week of the season and has been out since. If he plays this week, he probably won’t be much of a factor. You might be thinking of safety Louis Delmas, who hasn’t done anything to improve the secondary from what I’ve seen. Or defensive tackle Sammie Hill, who has just one solo tackle in two games. Whoever you mean, the defense might not have to worry about the running attack because of the awful secondary.

But the Bears can’t completely ignore the running game. They need to, at the very least, convert on short yardage situations, something Washington struggled with.  That’s killed them, especially when the field got shorter. So the Bears may not have to worry about the run, but they need it juuuuuuuust enough for the win.

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(PMB) I figured I’d close on a high note, and bring up a stat which should become even more superlative after Sunday. For the season, Cutler has now thrown for 760 yards on 65 of 101 passing with six touchdowns and five interceptions for an 86.2 passer rating. Cutler’s 253.3 passing yards per game average is currently highest in Bears franchise history. Cutler is on pace to throw for a franchise record 4,053 yards this season. I show you this chart for two reasons

1.) it highlights how sorry Bears QBs have been over the years

2.) Look at who #2 is on this list, your good old friend was indeed the most accomplished Captain of “Air Chicago”

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(HJB) That’s a pretty sad state of affairs when your quarterbacks are just as pathetic as the Lions. And in great Chicago tradition you’ve signed a guy that carries himself like anything other than an NFL quarterback. If I want a beer pong partner at a frat house, I want Jay Cutler. Hell, I’d want any Bears quarterback from the last 10 years. If I want a clutch quarterback, someone who can actually win me games late in the season and not just rack up stats, well Cutler wouldn’t be my guy. I hope you guys enjoy having a quarterback sans neck beard but when the games matter most, you’re going to wish you had a winner like Matthew Stafford … who will be a winner next year … probably. As for this week, Cutler will probably look like Joe Montana.

MOST PASSING YARDS PER GAME             Bears History

Player  Season  G    Att   Cmp   Yds    Yds/G

1 . Jay Cutler 2009 3 101    65   760      253.3

2. Erik Kramer 1995 16  522  315   3,838   239.9

3 . Billy Wade 1962   14  412   225       3,172    226.6

4 . Sid Luckman 1947  12   323  176    2,712    226.0

5 . Johnny Lujack 1949 12 312 162    2,658    221.5

Lions are in mid-season form: The exchange

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By David Boucher and H. Jose Bosch
There are three constants in live: death, taxes and the Lions sucking.

This week’s Lions exchange began in the preseason and finished just after Detroit’s 45-27 undressing to New Orleans. Notice some of the preseason optimism and how it nearly disappears after the game.

DB-Everyone that follows professional football knows about the position battle between incumbent Daunte Culpepper and the rich rookie Matt Stafford. Obviously the winner will have his work cut out for him, but is quarterback the team’s biggest problem? I think the defense, more specifically the secondary, poses a significantly more difficult situation for the Honolulu Blue. So, the re question for the Lions should be: What player, not including Culpepper or Stafford, will have the largest impact on the team? Or who needs to have that impact?

HJB-Larry Foote is the player Lions fans should keep an eye on this season. Especially after the loss of Jarrod Devries. The linebackers have become the defense’s strongest unit and will have to step up in a big way to give the Lions a chance to win and Foote needs to lead the charge. Not that Ernie Sims isn’t a good linebacker, but I think the presence of Foote will elevate Sims’ play and give the defense a leader that has a proven track record of winning. Who do you see making the biggest impact on the team?

DB-The person who needs to have the impact for the Lions is Anthony Henry. He was brought in to shore up the terrible secondary, exchanged for the former face of the franchise (Jon Kitna). If the Lions want to have any chance of winning, they need Henry to act the fool in passing lanes, blowing up QB’s in the back field and limiting the number of big plays the defense surrenders. anthony_henryHe’ll be put to the test right away against the Saints, with Colston, Moore, Henderson and Shockey each able to catch numerous touchdown passes. In order for the Lions to win their first game in (gosh, I can’t even remember…) they need to cause some turnovers in order to keep the ball out of the hands of the phenomenal Drew Brees. Bosch, do the Lions have any hope of starting the season 1-0?

HJB-It’s almost more fun to post these after the fact because your last question looks comical following the first game. Was there even a secondary on the field on Sunday? There can’t be a secondary worse than Detroit and fantasy leagues across the country will consist of guys scrambling to sign any quarterback facing the Lions. My last question is this. If the over/under on Lions wins is 2.5, would you take the over?
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DB-Just as I thought it would, the secondary was tested to the highest degree on Sunday, and understandably failed miserably. However, you can’t blame them when Drew Brees is not only able to pitch a tent in the pocket, but light a fire and toast marshmallows. The Lions need the likes of Cliff Avril and Julian Peterson to put some heat on the QB and take pressure off of their secondary.

As far as your second question goes, I’m a perpetual optimist: give me the over baby! I really think the Lions are going to score some points this season, and there are three games on their schedule I can definitely see them winning: at home vs. St. Louis and Cleveland and in Cincinnati to play the Bengals. None of these teams are all that special, and the Lions luck can’t be that bad, can they!? I see a few more plays falling their way, allowing them to take all three of these matches. And who knows, they may be able to steal one in Seattle and one in Arizona depending on how healthy Hasselbeck and Warner can stay down the stretch. Now, if you would’ve said four games…..

HJB-Fair enough but there is no way the Lions beat the Seahawks and Cardinals, even if Warner and Hasselbeck have broken throwing arms. The three teams you point out (St. Louis, Cleveland and Cincinnati) are legit picks to lose to Detroit. St. Louis and Cleveland are no good and the Bengals are so dysfunctional they aren’t even aware of the game.
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But this is the Lions! When have they done something they were supposed to do, other than lose? All the years of being a Lions fan have conditioned me to believe that it can always get worse.

You should be excited for the Matt Stafford era

Nfl Draft Football

By H. Jose Bosch

The Lions have made their final decision and decided to name Matthew Stafford as the starting quarterback. Well if this was Texas hold’em and I was placing my bet before the river, I’d be going all in with everything I owned.

Yeah, I used a poker reference even though I know nothing about poker, but I’ve decided to use reckless abandon when throwing my support behind Stafford and I think all Lions fans should do the same.

I don’t base my decision on anything tangible. I don’t live in Detroit anymore so I haven’t actually seen Stafford throw a single pass. I’m behind him 100 percent because I can’t think of a good reason not to root for this kid.
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