Thoughts From The Win

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's still a lot early to process the game and there were a lot of things happening. This won't be the first post on the game and certainly won't be the best analysis but here were a few of my takeaways.

I wasn't at all confident that Washington was a very good opponent for the Lions right now. Not that I think there are very good, in fact the opposite. I think they are terrible and are due for a collapse this year for a number of reasons. Even so, some of those things have already been exposed and that team was circling the wagons. I expected the Lions to break the streak by catching a team napping. This was far better, they caught a team fully prepared and whipped them.

Stafford was fine. Unlike last week, when he hit a lull he didn't go crazy and melt down with a series of bad decisions. While it isn't a cumulative stat, it is notable that his passer rating today was greater than his ratings of the first two weeks combined. I expected that the coaches would beat him up for ignoring Bryant Johnson the first two weeks. Maybe the interception in preseason on the pass to Johnson robbed Stafford of any faith he had in the guy. Regardless of the reason though, Stafford was convinced to go to Bryant repeatedly and it paid off well, even allowing for a drop by Bryant in the first half. The touchdown to Johnson as well as the 2nd down pass to Will Heller in the 4th quarter were the two most important signs of growth in Stafford that I have seen yet. Instead of trying to force the ball in Stafford put it up and trusted his receivers to make plays. I believe that the touchdown in particular would have been an easy interception only two weeks ago. There were a few misses, but overall this was the Big Step I've been expecting from Stafford, and this game restores much of my faith in the decision by Schwartz to start him.

Kevin Smith was brilliant and if he misses significant time it will be a real blow. While the offensive line blocked well the entire game, it is hard to overlook the difference in production between Smith (16/101) and the rest of the running backs (17/21). While the reality of things won't be that dramatic, the numbers do reflect the quality that Smith brings to the position.

The Lion defense was the key to the win. Unlike the first two games, Detroit held the opposing quarterback to a fairly average game. Combined with a run defense that continues to be effective they were able to slow Washington enough for the win. Schemes tend to win on defense, and Detroit demonstrated this today with their relatively anonymous group of contributers. Something called Kevin Hobbs was the Lions' third leading tackler, need I say more?

On the other hand though the game that Detroit played today would not be good enough to win in most weeks. The Redskins did as much to lose as the Lions to win, even going down to the decision in the last few seconds by Zorn to take no shots at the endzone. Washington committed the only turnover and it was unforced, the blocking by their offensive line was very sketchy, their play-calling seemed to lack much cohesion, they committed almost 100 yards of penalties. None of this is to detract from the Lions' accomplishment, they took what the Redskins gave them and did what they had to do. It is, however to point out that this was more the type of win that poor teams are able to nab a few times per year, not nearly the type of win that good teams carve out weekly. There is still plenty of work to do.