In the wake of the stunning loss to the Steelers, fans and players alike are left with a horrible taste in their mouths.
How a team can score 27 points in the second quarater alone, only to be completely absent on the offensive side of the ball in the second half, is a complete mystery to me.
Sure, you can blame the loss on the fact that the offense was non-existent in the second half. The defense is equally as blame-worthy, giving up several big plays in the fourth quarter to further allow Pittsburgh to achieve their comback. But, for me, this game all comes down to that fake field goal attempt.
I've always been wishy-washy over head coach Jim Schwartz. One week he will make a bone-headed call and subsequently the Lions will lose, but then there will be a period of weeks where the Lions might win a few games and I slowly lose my disdain for him. After this game, I don't think I will lose it anymore.
I'm a big believer that you can't blame a loss on one play, or one player, in the game. The fake field goal that Schwartz called early in the fourth quarter has changed my mind. Obviously it can't be assumed that they would have won even if they had kicked a field goal, but here are a few reasons why it still would have been the right move.
First, the conditions were terrible. Players were slipping and sliding everywhere. If the Lions had kicked the field goal and gone up by 7, the Steelers would have felt more pressure to score quicker. Conversely, the Lions' secondary wouldn't have felt as much pressure to make a quick stop.
Second, the Lions had been shut out so far in the second half. They clearly were having a tough time scoring, and Pittsburgh had captured some momentum. By calling the fake field goal Schwartz not only gives up easy points, but he also runs the risk of allowing the Steelers to get a stop, and gain a large amount of momentum in their favor, which they did.
Honestly, it's not the fact that Schwartz went for it that irks me, it's the fake field goal. If you want to try and score on fourth down, fine, but forget the trick play and put Stafford out there and let him get something done.
I've seen the Lions make some huge plays on fourth down conversions, but never on a fake field goal. Put Stafford out there and let him make something happen. If Schwartz had done that and Lions failed to convert, at least I would still respect the decision.
The secondary is sketchy, the offensive line isn't great, and the unnecessary penalties are still a problem, but the Lions are too good of a team to be in the position they are in now. It takes a lot for me to blame the head coach for anything, but it's looking like I'm at that point. If the Lions want to shed this Jekyll and Hyde performance pattern they are in, they need to shed Schwartz.