As a general rule, most fanbases dislike their team’s coach.
Mike McCarthy has delivered a Super Bowl title to my beloved Packers, and yet I still find a way to talk shit about him basically every game. A lot of it is deserved, but a lot of it is just frustrated noise as well. I can’t even imagine how Detroit fans are feeling today however, as it is very rare that you see such tangible evidence of a coach screwing the pooch as badly as Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz did yesterday in his team’s Thanksgiving Day match-up with the Houston Texans.
The most obvious example, of course, is his throwing of a challenge flag after Justin Forsett’s 78 yard touchdown run that should have gone for less than an eighth of that. His challenge of a play that would have been reviewed automatically cancelled the review process and penalized his team fifteen yards. I have a hard enough time forgiving Phil Simms and Jim Nantz for having no comprehension of the rules, but an NFL head coach? He insists that it isn’t a lack of knowledge, but instead a moment of frustration. If that is the case, I’m not any less concerned. The Lions have had discipline problems for years, and if their coach can’t even keep his emotions in check, as we have seen several times, are we really sure he is the man for this job?
But the errors did not stop there.
With the Lions leading (and eventually tied) in a close game, at one point they passed the ball twenty one times in a row in the fourth quarter and overtime. Yes, you read that right. Detroit throws the ball more than anyone in the league, but at this point in the game they were averaging over 5 yards per carry running the ball. This isn’t as egregious as when Baltimore and Philadelphia inexplicably forget to run, as both of those teams have one of the best backs in football, but it is still very troubling and another sign of a lack of discipline on the coaching staff. As the momentum began to switch to the Texans, it almost felt like the Lions were reduced to a petulant child playing Madden.
Later in overtime, the Houston Texans made it to the edge of field goal range before losing their nerve. They were penalized and then lost yardage on consecutive running plays which left their kicker with a 51 yard field goal attempt that he’d eventually miss. So when the Lions made it to the edge of field goal range, surely they wouldn’t be too conservative, right? Nope. Here’s the thing, despite how forward thinking a coach pretends to be, no matter how many times they like to sling the ball around the yard, their inner frightened child will come out eventually. Schwartz elected to settle for a 47 yard field goal, which by itself isn’t the worst thing in the world.
But it was on third down.
NFL coaches have a longstanding belief that kicking game winning field goals on third down is better because if there is a bad snap, the holder can fall on it and then re-kick on fourth. There is a big problem with this theory: THAT NEVER EVER FUCKING HAPPENS. Seriously, in all my time watching football I don’t think I can ever once remember this scenario play out. This is like when your Mom has a random thought thirty minutes into your family road trip that she left her hair dryer plugged in, so you go back. That hair dryer is never plugged in. IT IS NEVER PLUGGED IN! Sorry guys, just had a flashback to my childhood there. Also, even if a slightly bad snap occurs, it is a reflex for that holder to try to place it successfully for the kicker anyway. With your season on the line, and an extra play to pick up a few yards, why would you put your one hundred year old kicker in this position? While Jason Hanson has been accurate over the years, he has definitely lost a bit of his power.
Also, I understand that Stafford has turned the ball over this season, but if you can’t trust him to pass for five yards in this spot…how many games do you really expect to win going forward anyway?
It’s easy to cuss out the officials for their monumental mistake on the Forsett run, but if Lions’ fans are honest with themselves they know where the blame actually lies for their Thanksgiving defeat.