Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

After the Detroit Lions' 23-20 loss Sunday to the New York Jets, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. I was remiss Sunday in failing to note the game-management decisions that led to the Jets getting the ball with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. To review: The Lions faced a third-and-6 from their 38-yard line coming out of the 2-minute warning. The Jets were out of timeouts, so running down the clock was almost as important as getting a first down. A running play could have shaved nearly a minute, but the Lions were a bit more aggressive and called a run-pass option for quarterback Drew Stanton. But the worst-case scenario occurred: Stanton threw an incomplete pass to fullback Jerome Felton. Obviously, it would have been nice if Stanton had made a better throw or just run the ball. But I'm not coming down too hard because a minute is still enough time to drive the field for a field goal. But with their No. 3 quarterback in the game, the Lions were probably too aggressive for their own good in this situation.

  2. As we await word on quarterback Matthew Stafford's latest MRI exam on his twice-injured right shoulder, I'm wondering how much import to place on what coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday. Schwartz said the Lions "are going to take a pretty serious look at" the shoulder. Does that mean there are more significant rehabilitation possibilities here? Or did he just mean the Lions will take any injury to a quarterback's throwing shoulder seriously? I'm not sure, and I'm not even going to sweat the fact that backup Shaun Hill isn't ready to play because of a broken left forearm suffered last month. If nothing else this season, the Lions need to see Stafford put together a string of consecutive starts. Instead, he's looking at the possibility of a fourth injury-related disruption in his first 1 1/2 seasons in the NFL.

  3. The Lions were relevant Sunday. They had an elite team on the ropes. Ford Field was rocking, from what I hear, and there were any number of fun and interesting subplots to the way the game played out. Here's hoping the Lions' young players use that taste of relevance as motivation to continue improving. The Lions are a fun team to watch and probably a rollicking team to play for. They just need to continue channeling that passion and fun into more consistent winning performances.

And here is one issue I don't get:

Is there anything defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh can't do? I realize his family has a soccer background, that his father was a professional soccer player and that his older sister was a member of the Cameroon women's national team. And I also know he missed the crucial extra point he attempted Sunday. But I was stunned at how comfortable he looked attempting the kick and how smoothly he went through the steps with absolutely no warm-up. If you didn't know before, you know now: This guy is an elite athlete.