Don't by it for one second. The Lions season was alot of things, but no way was it one they wanted to build on for the future. In many cases, it was disappointing, upsetting, and alarming to see a 10-6 team who clinched a wild-card playoff spot last year, sink back to mediocrity with a 4-12 season this year.
The blame starts at the top. Coach Jim Schwartz really didn't take the initiative to keep his players focused, disciplined, or prepared mentally and physically. Not only that, they seemed to be uninspired and lackluster in their last 4 games.
Matthew Stafford also deserves alot of blame for a miserable season. Granted he threw for over 4,000+ yards, and decreased his sack total from last year, he also threw numerous interceptions and constantly made bad throws. Whether he was hurt or not, will be an issue the Lions will need to look at. Either way, he didn't seem comfortable in the pocket like he was last season.
Offensively, the Lions were too one-dimensional. They relied heavily on the passing game and getting the ball to Calvin Johnson. Instead of spreading the wealth, they relied to much on Johnson's services and defenses made adjustments against them and shut them down. Granted, the Lions suffered numerous injuries to their receiver corps and a lot of bad breaks, but that's football. Teams in the NFL, especially good ones must be able to overcome things like that.
Defensively, the Lions players never stepped up to the plate. They had alot of playmakers who stepped up at the most opportune times last season to make game-changing plays, but this year, they seriously lacked in that area. Certain players like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, and Cliff Avrill were virtually non-existent. Alot of other players missed significant time due to injuries as well.
The biggest embarrassment I feel for this season, was on the special teams unit. Let's face it, when you give up 4 special teams touchdowns in 2 weeks, and don't score a single one yourselves for an entire season, there is nothing SPECIAL about your special teams at all.
The Lions will be in a transition phase. They really need to try and right the ship like they did in 2011. A lot of personnel changes will need to be made.
Anyway you look at it, a 4-12 season is a huge step in the wrong direction for a team that made the playoffs last year, and had given its fans the perception that their days of woe were over for the time being.
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