Wednesday Breakfast with Tim and Mike: What should be the Lions' focus for the bye week?

Posted Oct 3, 2012

Grab a cup of coffee and read Tim and Mike's back-and-forth regarding the Lions and the upcoming bye week

Mike: Starting by healing, physically and mentally. They shouldn’t spend the bye beating themselves up over the breakdowns that caused the 1-3 start, and a three-game losing streak.

When they come back, they have to be willing to make some tweaks. It doesn't have to be anything major, but a change here and there is needed to give the team a feeling that it is headed in a new direction. I don't think the answer is to focus on doing the same things but doing them better. Changes can energize a team, and the team needs a jolt right now.

Tim: They certainly need a jolt. I think they can take solace in the fact that they haven’t played particularly well in any phase of the game and yet they’ve been in every game. It’s not like we’re talking about a team that’s 1-3 and has been getting blown out. They’ve given up five non-defensive touchdowns the last two weeks and have lost by a combined 10 points in those games. Changes do need to be made, though. I expect some of them will be personnel on special teams. But Schwartz said Monday he thinks they have the pieces to climb out of this hole. He should know he did it as the Titans defensive coordinator in 2002 when they started 1-4 and made it to the AFC Championship Game.

Do you agree with Schwartz, Mike?

Mike: He said that when he was asked a question, but he has said more often that you can't relate teams to teams, or seasons to seasons. What the Lions accomplish, good or bad, will come strictly from the will and talent pool of the 2012 team over the last 12 games. They have enough talent to make a playoff run, but they're already in a hole. It's not a crater, but it's more than a pothole. So what's the first step to climbing out?

Tim: Besides fixing some things on special teams, which I’m sure have already been addressed, I think the second step is fixing some of the problems the Lions have on offense. Teams have figured the Lions out. They now have to adjust. The Lions have to come to the realization that they are going to have to put 10-play scoring drives together until they can make their run game a threat and get some teams out of these prevent defenses.

I think we’re seeing how much the Lions miss running back Jahvid Best right now. Imagine Best against a linebacker in the middle of the field with no safety help in the passing game. The Lions have had ZERO run plays of 20-plus yards this season. Leshoure is capable of getting them, but he needs some help from the guys upfront, who I thought played their worst game of the season on Sunday. Until they start making opponents pay for the way they play them with some big runs – or execute with long drives – they’ll continue to see two-deep safety and that takes them out of what they’re really good at, which is pushing the ball down the field. Have you changed your opinion of this team after the quarter point of the season, Mike?

Mike: I've changed my mind on my prediction for their record. I don't see them going 11-5. What I'm most surprised about is how some role players haven't played as well as expected. Willie Young is one of them. Titus Young is another. I expected someone to step up on special teams.

Two players I'm not worried about are Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. I'm surprised by how willing Stafford has been to run for tough yards. And Megatron is still the best in the NFL. An off game for him -- like Sunday vs. the Vikings -- is a decent game for most other receivers.

Last thing before we say bye here: if you could fix one thing, what would it be?

Tim: Health. Maybe that’s a cop-out answer, but safety Louis Delmas and running back Jahvid Best could really help this team right now. Maybe cornerback Chris Greenwood could help the special teams. I think Delmas has a chance to play in Philadelphia after two more weeks to rest that knee, we'll see in a week at practice. I think everyone is still hopeful Best will be ready for the Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 7. I think both the offense and the defense are different – and better – with both players. If this team continues to lose over the next few weeks with all hands on deck, then we know what they are. Right now, I still question what they could be.