Detroit Lions through three games – 2014 to 2015

It’s quite obvious that the Lions of 2015 are much different than the Lions of 2014. A quick stroll down memory lane reminds us that last year at this time, our team was 2-1, coming off a big win against the arch-rival Green Bay Packers. This year, as we all know, the Lions are walking around with their tail between their legs after another disappointing loss.

The drop-off hasn’t been solely just on the offensive side of the ball, or just the defensive side of the ball. It’s been a sickly combination of the two. The stats are very telling. Through three games this year, the Lions are -272 in total yards, compared to +360 at this time last year. Trust me, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. First off, let’s start with the first three weeks of 2014:

2014 Category Detroit Opponents
Points 61 45
First Downs 62 50
Total Yards 1,093 733
Passing 947 542
Rushing 261 191
Penalties 18 – 170 14 – 98
Turnovers 3 6
Time of Possession 103:46 76:24
Sacks Against 7 8
QB Hits Against 17 19

Also, consider the fact that both Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate were both off to more productive starts. Calvin caught 19 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns through the first three games, and Tate had 19 catches as well, for 201 yards.

Now, fast forward to today, after three weeks in the 2015 season:

2015 Category Detroit Opponents
Points 56 83
First Downs 63 67
Total Yards 915 1,187
Passing 780 851
Rushing 135 336
Penalties 19 – 143 24 – 231
Turnovers 8 6
Time of Possession 81:50 98:10
Sacks Against 6 4
QB Hits Against 20 16

Calvin Johnson: 20 catches, 199 yards, one touchdown

Golden Tate: 15 catches, 161 yards

As you can see, the Lions are trailing their opponents in pretty much every statistical category, and much behind the pace they had set through three games last season. The rushing attack, which was supposed to be taking a big step forward this year, has been almost non-existent so far this year. Joique BellTheo Riddick, and rookie Ameer Abdullah have combined to average a very weak 45 yards per game while undrafted rookie Zach Zenner has gotten two carries for six yards.

The woes of the offensive line have been very noticeable too. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has spent a lot of time on the ground so far, having been hit 20 times, and sacked six times. Place a large part of the struggles in the running game on the offensive line, as well. We’ve heard a lot of questions regarding the offensive play calling as well, which has clearly been bad  at numerous times. How much of the play-calling can be blamed for the lack of production?

Defensively, the Lions have been a shell of their former selves this year. We knew that the turnover in personnel would affect the defense, but nobody thought it would be as bad as it has been to this point. Having only produced four sacks, and allowing an average of 112 rushing yards per game, it’s clear that the defensive line is struggling to be productive.

The questions are abundant. How much blame does Stafford (-167 passing yards between this year and last) get for his drop-off in production? Turnovers are up in a big way, as well. +3 at this point last year, to -2 this year. Is this a result of bad play-calling, bad execution, or a nasty combination of the two? Will the defense come around? Yikes.

What are your thoughts, Nation? With the way the team has performed to this point of the season, is it already too late to turn things around and have a productive season?

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