NFL

Lions’ Matthew Stafford can’t silence critics, may have reached ceiling

CHICAGO — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford sat down on a bench in the locker room, and there was a bright red mark on his left (non-throwing) shoulder.

After getting sacked six times, it's a wonder his whole body wasn't one giant bruise.

“We just didn’t make enough plays,” Stafford said on Sunday, after the Lions lost to the Chicago Bears, 34-22. “We didn’t start fast as a team. Everybody included.”

Once again, the Lions made all kinds of mistakes.

Once again, Stafford was turned into a human piñata — he has been sacked 16 times in the last two games.

And once again, the Lions were undisciplined and unfocused.

This is not progress. This is regression. 

This was a big week for Stafford, a chance for some atonement after last week's performance. And after taking all kinds of heat from Rich Gannon.

Stafford came out and did, well, nothing much. Not until this team was down 26-0.

Lions fans have been turning on Stafford, and this will do nothing to make it stop.

Once again, he did nothing to make the players around him better.

Once again, he held on to the ball too long. His second sack, on the Lions' first possession, was the most costly because it took away points. The Lions had third down on the Chicago 29-yard line. Stafford took the sack, instead of throwing it away. That forced the Lions to punt.

That’s on Stafford. The Lions made all kinds of small mistakes like that, which added up to one big, fat ugly disaster.

“We had some chances to move the ball a little early, but we just didn’t continue drives,” Stafford said. “Those were negative plays. Sacks early in the game. Penalties. Whatever it is.”

It's been a half century of whatever it is.

Many steps back

Now remember, this was a team on the fringe of the playoffs last year. Now, after falling to 3-6 on Sunday, it will be lucky to finish 8-8.

The Lions weren't prepared to play the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. They looked like a bunch of kindergartners, who got moved up to high school before they were ready.

They weren’t mentally tough. They weren’t disciplined. They weren’t focused. They were, well, nothing but embarrassing. That’s on general manger Bob Quinn, who put together this roster, and coach Matt Patricia, who guided this team on a downward spiral. I realize he is a rookie head coach. And he is just nine games into his tenure. But as the losing continues, as this team seems to regress every Sunday, it makes you wonder: Are Quinn and Patrica capable of straightening this out?

Here’s the part that boggles your mind: Quinn put all kinds of resources into the offensive line. He drafted Kerryon Johnson. He had so many weapons, he figured he could trade Golden Tate. But nothing is working. Everything is hard for this offense. And they seem to be doing the same thing, over and over.

That’s on offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

That’s on Stafford. 

That’s on all of them.

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