The Detroit Lions made changes to their offense last week, firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and promoting first-time playcaller Jim Bob Cooter to offensive coordinator.
That shift didn’t do much to help. In many ways, the Lions' offense appeared worse on Sunday.
Of course, Lions coach Jim Caldwell and Detroit’s front office put Cooter, the 31-year-old first-time offensive coordinator, in an almost unwinnable situation by firing Lombardi hours before they were leaving for London, costing Cooter valuable time to actually prep for his debut on a transcontinental trip. It essentially meant that he couldn’t add much, couldn’t change much. He would have to roll with what Lombardi and Caldwell had implemented.
That hadn’t worked in the first place or again Sunday during Kansas City’s 45-10 blowout of the Lions, highlighted by Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, with 78 rushing yards, outgaining the Lions as a team until the last carry of the game.
Although it isn’t clear whether three months would have been enough for Cooter and the Lions at this point, making that move at the upcoming bye week would have given him a bit more time to plan and have a shot at success. It was just another questionable decision by the Lions' head coach and the franchise’s front office in a season in which almost nothing has worked and very little of what they have done has made sense. The Lions, who have lost games this season by a half-yard and more than a dozen points, have been inept as a franchise all season.
And this week -- like it had been much of the season -- the focus was on the offense. And it was the same old, same old for Detroit: No protection for Matthew Stafford, who was sacked six times. No consistency in the passing offense because of that lack of protection. And the play calling, including Stafford going for a dump-down pass to Calvin Johnson on a third-and-27 late in the first half, was still an issue.
Of course, Caldwell and the Lions players had said that not much would change offensively this week. On Sunday, that was clear; it could lead to even more changes down the road.
What it means: From an on-the-field perspective, not much. Detroit is a bad football team -- one of the worst in the NFL. At this point, not much matters in terms of on-the-field performance other than 2016 draft standing and for fantasy football. But the way the Lions played Sunday, listless and lost on both offense and defense, could be further proof that Detroit’s problems go deeper than changing the offensive coordinator and offensive assistant coaches.
What were they thinking? This could really go for the entire team Sunday, but Stephen Tulloch and Travis Lewis both looked baffled on Kansas City’s first scoring play, when De’Anthony Thomas took a 10-yard jet sweep in motion into the end zone. Thomas is known to make this play when he’s put in motion.
One reason to get excited: The season is halfway over, and the chase for the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 is intact. Also, you don’t have to watch the Lions next week because they are off.
One reason to panic: At this point, why would you panic? This team is bad and has shown no signs of improvement this season. The offense looked the same under Cooter. The defense stopped no one. Special teams had another penalty.
Fantasy watch: Joique Bell actually looked healthy in his somewhat limited work Sunday, reclaiming his role as the lead back for the first time this season after seven carries for 56 yards. But with the Lions unable to do much, they were essentially useless for you from a fantasy perspective.
Ouch: Johnson came up a little gimpy in the second half, and Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver said trainers were looking at his toe. Johnson had been healthy all season and the Lions are heading to an off week, but this could be something to watch for Detroit.
It somehow got worse: The Lions got rid of their offensive coordinator Monday, and all week the franchise said there likely wouldn’t be substantial changes Sunday against the Chiefs. The Lions were right. They continued their inept ways against Kansas City, flailing and failing offensively in every way, including being outrushed by Smith in the first half.
A bit of insult: It came on the field and off of it. On it, the Lions were blown out and watched Chase Daniel, who spent four seasons with Joe Lombardi in New Orleans, finish the game for the Chiefs and lead a touchdown drive against the team that just fired his former quarterbacks coach. Off of it, former Michigan Rep. John Dingell took a shot at the Lions during halftime. Dingell, who retired this year, was in office the last time the Lions won an NFL championship.