You Are Not Blaming the Right Person for Sunday’s Loss

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General Manager Bob Quinn Is Responsible For Sunday’s Loss

There are certain things that occur in the NFL due to prevailing wisdom. Things like putting the punt returner on a certain yard line and telling him not to touch the ball if it’s over his head are examples of this. Prevailing wisdom is sometimes gone against with some success, for a short time in the NFL.

The read option offense that tore through the NFL before being all but completely erased within two seasons is an example of this. The greatest minds in the game put their efforts in to figuring out how to stop it, and the teams that were at the forefront of that style have moved on to more conventional quarterbacks. The prevailing wisdom is that the athleticism of NFL defenders is simply too great for that style of offense to work over time.

One area that almost never has any significant aberrations in the NFL is roster construction. Bob Quinn has played fast and loose with the prevailing wisdom regarding that key aspect of his job, and this week it cost the team.

Bob Quinn’s Responsibility in Sunday’s Loss

What Jim Caldwell is not going to say in his weekly presser is that he just got screwed by his boss. What Teryl Austin is not going to say is that he was given an impossible task on Sunday when Antwione Williams and Kyle Van Noy went down with injury. The Lions were not able to effectively run their most appropriate package against the Titans’ double tight personnel after two injuries. The Titans saw this and crammed that double tight package down the Lions throat.

It became apparent very quickly to anyone looking, that Brandon Copeland was moved back to defensive end. He is a miserable linebacker and that left the Lions playing one of two formations against the Titans.

The first is a Canadian high school goal-line defense called the 5-2, in which five down linemen are played. A mere two linebackers are the entirety of the second level of the defense. The Titans passed the ball when they saw this formation, because the two linebackers in question were Tahir Whitehead and Thurston Armbrister. That is very obviously how you should attack that defense: get an athletic receiver in single coverage with either of those linebackers and take the easy yards. This is not a defense that NFL teams play.

The second was to play in a nickel defense, trying to limit the tight ends with better coverage. When the Lions did this the Titans ran the ball, with their physical mismatch being that a tight end was able to block the nickel corner. It was football 101 put into action, and Teryl Austin was completely powerless to stop it. He just didn’t have any linebackers, and couldn’t run the defense that had been stifling the Titans all afternoon.

Bob Quinn Could Have Set the Lions Up Better For the Game

Yes there was a bad call against the Lions with Eric Ebron in the end zone, but there were a few that went in our favor too at various points in the game. The events directly following that phantom pass interference play make it meaningless; the Lions’ offense self destructed in about the most epic manner possible.

There is a lot of talk about a fourth and three situation where the Lions should have kicked a field goal. Matt Prater is a good kicker, but why should a coach risk giving the other team the ball at midfield when he’s up by only two scores and has suffered massive defensive injuries? There is a perfectly reasonable argument against the field goal. I would have kicked it, but Jim Caldwell never will, and it’s not what brought about Sunday’s loss.

Bob Quinn’s poor decision making set his team up to fail, which is about the bottom rung of general manager competence. The Lions didn’t have the Mustangs to finish the wild horse race, and it’s because the guy who was in charge of horse procurement wanted eleven Clydesdales and only kept four Mustangs. There is a reason that other teams don’t keep eleven defensive linemen, and only bring four linebackers to a game day. The prevailing wisdom is that you need more linebackers than that to buffer your team against injury. Bob Quinn did not heed the prevailing wisdom.

Bob Quinn robbed 53 players and the coaching staff of an opportunity to win against Tennessee in week two.

As always I can be found on twitter @A5hcrack, and on /r/detroitlions. 

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About the Author

Ash Thompson
Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark's head. He enjoys maple syrup and tacos, but never at the same time.