Behind Enemy Lines: Detroit Lions host Arizona Cardinals in the Motor City
Oct 6, 2015, 2:58 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2015, 9:46 am
When the Detroit Lions host the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field Sunday, both teams will be coming off stinging losses.
The Cardinals sputtered in the red zone and turned the ball over three times in a disjointed 24-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams, while the Lions fell to the Seattle Seahawks in controversial fashion on Monday Night. Detroit looked like they’d take a late lead when Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson at the 1-yard line, but as “Megatron” reached for the goal line, Seattle’s Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of his hands and into the end zone. That’s when K.J. Wright batted the ball through the back of the end zone, which is a no-no that should have drawn a penalty.
It didn’t. The play was not reviewable and the Lions left Seattle with their fourth straight loss. That will make them extra hungry and eager to turn around their season when they host the Cardinals.
All week, we’ll take you to Detroit to let you know everything that’s going on with Jim Caldwell’s Lions team.
Friday, October 9
• Lions LB DeAndre Levy expected to make season debut against Cardinals (ESPN.com)
The Detroit Lions’ outside linebacker has missed the first four games of the season with a hip injury, but in naming Levy a game captain Sunday, Lions coach Jim Caldwell also essentially said Levy is going to be healthy enough to play.
• Zach Zenner earning trust, potentially more carries, with Lions (ESPN.com)
Zach Zenner didn’t get much work Monday night, but the Detroit Lions offered a little bit of a clue about his future late against the Seahawks.
• Joe Lombardi: ‘Matt Stafford is a very good quarterback’ (ESPN.com)
“He’s done a lot better protecting the football, all right,” Lombardi said. “And just for the record, someone said, ‘How are you going to fix Matt Stafford?’ I said ‘He’s not broken’ so the headline was a little … but I still don’t think he’s broken.”
• Jim Caldwell: ‘Don’t think that Mrs. Ford is not upset’ over missed call (ESPN.com)
Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford has not spoken publicly, but on Thursday, coach Jim Caldwell said on his weekly radio appearance that she is not pleased with what happened in Seattle on Monday night.
• Zenner could usurp Bell’s role in Lions’ offense (Detroit Free Press)
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Thursday that Zenner “for sure” has put himself in a position to remain in the Lions’ running back rotation when Joique Bell returns from the knee and ankle injuries that have hampered his season.
• As offense sputters, Detroit Lions say QB Matthew Stafford not getting enough credit for his play (MLive.com)
Opposing coaches consistently rave about his talents, his own coaches constantly reject outside criticism, yet it’s difficult to find the positives in Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s start to the season, especially when the team’s offense is averaging just 13 points per game during an 0-4 start.
• Comments by ‘Dr. Ebron’ seem to irritate Lions’ Caldwell (Detroit News)
The second-year tight end told an ESPN reporter Wednesday that part of his knee injury is related to bruising and that it could take up to three weeks for him to recover. During Caldwell’s weekly radio interview on 97.1 FM, he called Ebron “Dr. Ebron,” referring to the diagnosis he provided to ESPN.
• Should the Detroit Lions Consider Moving on From Matthew Stafford? (NumberFire.com)
With losing comes finger pointing. Naturally, plenty of fingers are pointing at Lions veteran quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Is it justified? Is Stafford to blame for the four-game skid? It’s fair to ask these questions. After six-plus seasons, it’s also fair to wonder if Stafford will ever be the player his first-overall-pick pedigree suggests.
Thursday, October 8
• Tyrann Mathieu: Lions offense looks ‘out of sync’ right now (ESPN.com)
“I’m very, very, very surprised. When you look at those guys’ personnel on offense, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, those two guys alone have you raising eyebrows as to wondering why they haven’t been putting up a lot of points this season,” Mathieu said. “They are one of those teams, man, that they look out of sync right now.
“But they’ll find their rhythm at some point during the season.”
• Lions want to take bad calls out of the equation (ESPN.com)
But after the batted ball controversy at the end of the Seahawks game and what happened with the pass interference call being overturned in Dallas, some of the Lions are at least wondering why this keeps happening.
• Lions bring back DT Andre Fluellen — for the ninth time (ESPN.com)
The 30-year-old Fluellen was with Buffalo during training camp and for parts of the 2015 regular season but was cut Friday. He did not appear in a game with the Bills.
• Lions’ decimated defensive line turns to Wright (Detroit Free Press)
This week against the Arizona Cardinals (4 p.m. Sunday, Fox), their rotation at the position could consist of two journeymen, one of whom just signed off the street; a second-year backup who missed most of the preseason with a high ankle sprain; and rookie fourth-round pick Gabe Wright.
• Jamie’s blog: Stafford treated unfairly in Detroit? (Detroit Free Press)
When you’re drafted in the first round – No. 1 overall – and paid more than $80 million over the length of your contracts, there are going to be expectations. The best of the best get dissected. Stafford is no exception. The difference is the best of the best have won over their fans with win after win and big play after big play. Stafford has some of those, but not nearly enough. His record as a starting quarterback is 35-46.
• Lions favor reform to NFL’s review system (Detroit News)
The proposal failed, and even if it passed, it wouldn’t have helped Monday against the Seahawks when the officials didn’t penalize Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone, a call that would have given the Lions the ball at the 1.
• Why more Detroit Lions players haven’t blasted the NFL (MLive.com)
The Detroit Lions have a perfectly good excuse to lob haymakers at the NFL this week. No one would fault them for blasting the league for blowing a huge call against them for the second time in five games.
Many, in fact, are demanding they do just that.
But the Lions aren’t playing along.
• Detroit Lions finally dial up some downfield shots, but with minimal success (MLive.com)
Through the first three games of the 2015 season, conservative might have been the best way to describe the Detroit Lions’ passing attack. The team attempted just five deep passes (traveling 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage) in those contests, all losses.
Wednesday, October 7
• Why the Lions won’t go 0-16 — and why they could improve fast (ESPN.com)
The Detroit Lions are the last winless team in the NFL, and considering the franchise’s history, the mind can begin to wander.
The Lions are the only team in the history of the league to go 0-16, in 2008. And since 2001, the franchise has started the season 0-5 three times – 2008, 2006 and 2001. That is something the Lions are trying to avoid Sunday when they face Arizona.
• Jim Caldwell says Lions done talking about missed call (ESPN.com)
Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday he is instructing his players not to talk with the media about the batted ball controversy that happened at the end of Monday night’s loss to Seattle because he wants his team to remain focused on Sunday’s game against Arizona.
• Wojo: Don’t blame refs, Lions’ enemy is themselves (Detroit News)
The Lions got jobbed, again. Fans will weep and wail, the NFL will mumble about accountability and pledge to do better, and a rule eventually will get changed or clarified.
And then, as the Monday Night Misery fades, the Lions will be forced to confront their own accountability, yet again.
• Seidel: Lions breed culture of defeat (Detroit Free Press)
It’s the essence of the Lions — nearly 60 years of frustration and futility boiled down to one play.
And how the 0-4 Lions are now the only NFL team without a win.
And how this season feels like it is already over, even though the Lions have played only one game in Ford Field.
• Report: Lions TE Eric Ebron out up to 3 weeks with knee injury (MLive.com)
Eric Ebron has a bruised left knee in addition to other potential injuries, according to ESPN, and recovery is expected to take up to three weeks. That means he’s probably out for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Tuesday, October 6
• Tyrunn Walker out for rest of season (ESPN.com)
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker is out for the season after breaking his left leg and dislocating his ankle Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
• Jeff Daniels: ‘It’s just painful’ to be a Detroit Lions fan (ESPN.com)
“You feel cursed. You really do,” Daniels said. “What happened to Calvin [Johnson] in Chicago with all the follow-all-the-way-through, that thing. That happened to us. Last night happened to us. It’s just part of being a Lions fan, apparently.
“It’s just painful. It’s painful. I don’t care what the Cubs fans say. This is more painful.”
• Curses! Latest controversy enhances Lions’ legacy of misfortune</> (ESPN.com)
With the Lions, these incidents happen so much so that Calvin Johnson had to half-sigh, half-laugh when asked about the possibility that a second rule invoking his name could end up in play.
• Lions fans purchase billboards protesting non-call during Monday Night Football (ESPN.com)
The same group of anonymous Detroit Lions fans who bought billboards around metropolitan Detroit during the Ndamukong Suh free-agency saga and after last season’s controversial non-pass interference call against Dallas are at it again.
• Tuesday breakdown: Ihedigbo emerges as Lions’ leader (Detroit News)
A reason to think the Lions could’ve stopped Wilson brings us back to the main topic. Just as Chancellor made the biggest play for his team, strong safety James Ihedigbo was the star of the night for Detroit.
• Caldwell doesn’t want Lions to dwell on missed call (Detroit News)
That’ll distract you, and you’ll get your ears kicked in come Sunday afternoon,” he said. “So we don’t plan to let that happen, so we plan to make certain that our guys focus in on (the game).
“We can’t be hanging on something that happened a night ago that we can do nothing about. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
• Golden Tate doesn’t blame refs; loss is on Lions (Detroit News)
Like many people around the country, Tate was unaware of the “batting rule,” but told 105.1 the referees can’t be blamed. He pointed the blame at the Lions for being in that position to begin with.