Wednesday Breakfast with Tim and Mike: What to make of the current NFC North standings?

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Grab a cup of coffee and read Tim and Mike's back-and-forth regarding the Lions and the NFC North

Tim: So, Mike, did you catch the end of the Packers-Seahawks game Monday night? Something tells me Lions head coach Jim Schwartz didn't feel as bad about the 12 extra yards the Titans got in Sunday's game when he woke up Tuesday morning.

The loss puts the Packers at 1-2 on the season and in cellar of the NFC North Division standings with the Lions. Do we need to reassess what we thought about the Lions and Packers before the season after just three games?

Mike: It’s been a strange start to the season in a lot of ways and with a lot of teams, but the reassessment here has to be on the Lions. The coaches and players have to look at the Lions first.

Schwartz preaches being concerned about his own team first, and I have no doubt he’ll do that. The issues are mostly on defense and special-teams coverage.

Am I missing something?

And don’t worry. My Full Metal Jacket ambush of the officials is coming.

Tim: Can’t wait to hear it.

I think you’re right on with the defense and the special teams. The offense is fine, especially with Mikel Leshoure now.

Fans got some tangible evidence Sunday on how important Louis Delmas really is to this defense. The two big plays on offense for the Titans were a direct result of all three Lions safeties either being out of position, trying to make a play that wasn’t there, or just completely whiffing on the play. The Lions need a guy who can clean up the mess in the backend. That’s Delmas -- he cleans up plays.

As far as special teams go, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some shuffling around of personnel this week.

Hopefully, they won’t have to shuffle around at quarterback.

Mike: That’s the big issue of this week -- Matthew Stafford’s status for Sunday. He went into the Tennessee game with a leg muscle injury and aggravated it in the fourth quarter. Shaun Hill finished up.

Two things: do you think Stafford will play Sunday, and how will the Lions do if Hill plays?

Tim: It doesn’t appear that Stafford’s injury is too serious, but that’s just a guess on my part. We’ll obviously know more on Wednesday at practice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was available to play Sunday. He played through a broken finger and a bad ankle last year.

If Hill plays, I don't see anything changing for the Lions. I talked to Scott Linehan on Monday and he said he calls the same game. That’s the benefit of having an experienced backup. It may not be pretty all the time with Hill, but he gets it done.

I’m sure the Lions will try to lean on running back Mikel Leshoure again this week, with or without Stafford. What did you think of his debut?

Mike: He was impressive for a first game - for any game, for that matter. I’m sure durability was an issue. It was his first game since December of 2010, when he played in a bowl game for Illinois.

The Lions can win with Hill, but they need Stafford for the long run. That’s obvious. It’s also obvious that other players have to make up the difference, and Leshoure looks like he can help do that.

Ask yourself this -- and Lions Twitter Nation can weigh in: from what you’ve seen, would you rather have Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant or Leshoure?

Tim: Wow, Mike tossing out a softball for us there, Twitter Nation. No doubt it's Leshoure. That was an easy one.

There’s a reason the Lions didn’t sign Grant or any of the other backs they brought in a couple weeks ago. Leshoure is their man heading forward. He reaffirmed that on Sunday.

Hey Mike, didn’t you promise me a “Full Metal Jacket” rant on the replacement officials?

Mike: My point with the replacement refs is that they aren’t qualified for the job they’re being asked to do. Major league sports has the best doing what they do best.

For the replacements, it isn’t one bad call or one missed call. Those things happen. We’re still debating whether the officials were right or wrong on the famous Immaculate Reception play 40 years ago.

The biggest issue with the replacement officials is command and control, and they don’t have it. They cannot react to the speed and skill level of the NFL. Bad calls are compounded by missed calls and non-calls.

The result is chaos on the field. If Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners can live with what amounts to an entry-level standard of officiating, then they’re willing to turn the NFL into 16 episodes of the Jerry Springer show every week.

And that’s what they’re getting. Just wait till it goes to syndication.

What a show.

What a ghastly nightmare.