Q. Bottom line: What did beating a bad Jacksonville team mean for the Lions?
A. It’s a cliché, but it rings true (another cliché). The Lions did what they were supposed to do, and did what they had to do. (That’s three clichés, which is more momentum than the Jaguars had all game.)
There was nothing particularly dramatic or telling about the outcome. The Lions went into the game favored with a lot on the line, and they had an advantage over Jacksonville in almost every category. One exception: home-field advantage. And that didn’t matter because the Jaguars haven’t won at home this year.
The Lions played like the game meant something, and it did. It made their record 4-4 and set them up to make a playoff run in the second half of the season, starting next week on the road against the Vikings.
They didn’t take the Jaguars lightly, and they played hard from the beginning. That’ a sign of professionalism.
Q. Calvin Johnson: What stood out about the way he played?
A. Grit. He’s Matthew Stafford’s main man, and played like it. He didn’t practice all week, and it is obvious that he’s hurting from an injury to his left knee. But he’s a big-time player – the best receiver in the NFL – and he played big.
It’s unusual for an offense to revolve around a receiver, but in the Lions’ case, it does.
There were questions about how effective he’d be because of the knee injury. He did some individual drills on his own about an hour before the team went out for pre-game warm-ups. Whatever pain he felt was nothing compared to what he did to Jacksonville’s defense.
As the Lions built a 21-0 lead in the first half, he had six catches for 111 yards. The Lions had the game in their hands – thanks a lot to Johnson’s hands and how the Lions kept drives going with third-down completions by Stafford.
Q. Mike Leshoure: Three touchdowns told the story, but what was the best part of his game?
A. The TD runs speak for themselves, but they’re only part of what he did. On a hot day, continued to run hard and effectively into the fourth quarter. The third TD run was the best. A Jaguars defender had him cold just after the handoff, but Leshoure sidestepped him with a quick move and accelerated off left tackle into the end zone. It was a pro move.
A. There aren’t any real stats for offensive linemen, but one way to gauge how they’re playing is who slaps hands after a big run. On several plays, you could see the veterans slapping hands with Reiff.
The Lions got a good one when they drafted him on the first round out of Iowa.
Q. Defense: Was there any concern about how the defense gave up yards at times in the second half?
A. You’d like to see the quarterback on the ground more, but the secondary cleaned up some things, and that’s what mattered most.
Something else not to like: two penalties on
Young and Fairley seem to get flagged every week. That has to change – blowouts or not.
Q. Breaks: Didn’t the Lions catch one on a penalty on their last TD drive of the first half?
A. Yes. On a third-down play, the Jaguars committed two fouls – a hit to Stafford’s helmet, and pass interference when Johnson tried to catch a pass down the left sideline.
Those are the kind of penalties that happen to bad teams, and Jacksonville is a bad team now.
It’s on the offense to take advantage, and the Lions did. The penalty gave them 20 yards, to Jacksonville’s 45, and they drove seven more yards to a TD – Mikel Leshoure’s third on a seven-yard run.
Q. Breaks II: The Lions got a break on their second possession. Stafford was hit hard by Paul Posluszny, and he was flagged for unnecessary roughness. The play had been whistled down because of a penalty against the Lions for delay of game.
A. The Lions didn’t get any points, though. The drive ended on a missed field goal.
Q. Job security: On the Fox network pre-game show, Terry Bradshaw threw out Jim Schwartz’s name in a discussion about job security and which coaches might be in jeopardy. Any chance that Schwartz might be in trouble?
A. None. There’s a better chance that Mitt Romney will vote for President Obama on Tuesday. The possibility of Schwartz being in trouble in Detroit is so far off the mark that it doesn’t warrant discussion.
Q. Bad offense: Have you ever seen an offense as bad as Jacksonville's?
A. Yes. The 1988 Lions were just as bad. They had three first downs in a loss to Minnesota at home. The first one came on a deflected pass on the last play of the third quarter. It was no fun watching that game, and it couldn’t have been any fun for Jacksonville’s fans Sunday.
Q. Looking ahead: The Lions are 4-4 and play at Minnesota Sunday. What do you see happening?
A. I see a Vikings team that’s much better than Jacksonville, and a Lions team that has to continue to bear down.
Prediction to come.