So What Have We Learned?

Friday, November 27, 2009

About the Lions? Not too much, other than that they do not match up well with the Packers at all.

Yesterday's game was eerily similar to the 26-0 loss of a few weeks ago. The Lions scored a few more points due to some Packer miscues and some solid defense but the offense was equally ineffective.

In the October 18 game Culpepper was forced to play without Calvin Johnson and with injured Brandon Pettigrew and Gosder Cherilus. Green Bay had Aaron Kampman and Al Harris. Before leaving with a "hamstring" (mercy killing by the staff?) Culpepper was simply swarmed under. I don't recall a single pass he was able to step into. Stanton was able to run around a bit and create passing lanes but ultimately he was equally ineffective.

Yesterday Stafford has a bit more time, but he was gimpy, Calvin Johnson still appears to be gimpy and Pettigrew (again) got knocked out of the game early. Green Bay didn't have Kampman or Harris but ultimately they didn't need either.

So we really have no idea whether Culpepper would have done better.

The Lions' run defense was better than the pass defense but that wasn't anything new. Rodgers passed at will against the weak Lion pass defense. It's hard to see how that part of the game gets fixed quickly. Detroit really needs a solid #1 corner, some pass-rushing ends and linebackers and a rangy free safety. Even if they are able to draft all of those players in one off-season (unlikely) it will be a year or two before they reach their potential.

What we maybe did learn is how much better the Packers are than the Lions, and perhaps what makes them a solid sleeper come playoff time. Green Bay's defense is simply ferocious. Better with Kampan and Harris than without, to be sure, but still among the best in the league.

Ted Thompson is probably the best talent evaluator in the division. Since taking over GM duties in 2005 he has drafted Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Nick Collins, AJ Hawk and Jeremy Thompson. He signed Charles Woodson and traded for Ryan Grant. He drafted Johnny Jolly in the 6th round and a 7th rounder from this year - Brad Jones - got his first career start yesterday in place on Kampman. From the 2009 draft Raji appears to be the force that Green Bay expected and Clay Matthews has 5 sacks so far, TJ Lang is the starting right tackle.

and expect Green Bay to get better. They are in their second year in a 3-4 and while they appear now to have the pieces in place to run it, there will still be some maturation and improvement. The offensive line is a shambles but the team is still pretty good. Figure the line gets addressed this winter and at the very least is better in 2010, if not much better. Rodgers probably has the best set of offensive players in the NFC around him with Grant, Jennings, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley (among others).

So while we might not have learned much about the Lions at all, we maybe did learn how far they are from where they need to be.