DETROIT -- They are winless still, and after a week of saying they felt like they were getting better, the Detroit Lions are clearly, obviously, no-question-about-it getting worse.
How much worse? The latest loss, a 42-17 drubbing by Arizona, saw the team’s starting running back, Ameer Abdullah, and starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, get benched. It also saw six turnovers -- five from those two players.
This game saw a complete unraveling of the Lions in a loss so complete, so total that there is no other way to describe it. This was the type of loss that typically defines a season, and with Detroit now 0-5, it is one that essentially closed the door on much of the 2015 campaign.
By the end, from the emptiness of the stands to the play on the field, Sunday had the feel of the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game -- not the end of Week 5 of the regular season.
Going back to last season, the Lions have lost their past seven games, and though it seems unlikely, despite how Detroit played Sunday, the possibility of an 0-16 season remains. Considering the history of this franchise, which already endured one of those campaigns in 2008 and saw two of the quarterbacks from that team -- Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton -- face off against each other in the second half, it’ll be a topic of conversation as long as the Lions continue to lose like they did in this game.
What it means: This is a team in disarray, no matter what any players or coaches say in the locker room after the game. None of it is working right now. The defense looked all right at times but also allowed a 99-yard drive that changed the game. The offense has been a mess all season. The coaching has been subpar. And at 0-5, barring something completely unforeseen, the Lions' season, from a postseason perspective, is over.
What were they thinking?: This could be asked of the majority of the offense Sunday afternoon. The Lions committed five turnovers, including two fumbles by Abdullah. For a team that insisted it had something to build on after Seattle, the only thing it built was another loss in what is turning into a lost season.
One reason to be excited: There are only 11 games left on the schedule this season. Both of Michigan’s major college programs are good -- and Michigan-Michigan State is Saturday.
One reason to panic: There are so many places to start here, from the benching of Abdullah and then Matthew Stafford. Abdullah fumbled twice. Stafford threw passes to Arizona defenders thrice. As a result, the Lions' offense once again sputtered and stalled and could not produce at all. It is an offense that just isn’t working and hasn’t been for much of the year.
Fantasy watch: At this rate, it’s tough to recommend starting any Lions player except Calvin Johnson. With Stafford being benched Sunday -- it’s tough to see the Lions not going back to him next week -- it was just another showing of how in shambles this Detroit offense is. Most of the Lions are underperforming offensively and not worth a starting spot. If you’re in need, though, Theo Riddick could be a good bye week play at running back. He caught a touchdown and is a PPR demon since the Lions are typically trailing.
Ouch: Linebacker DeAndre Levy made his season debut -- and played less than a half before being announced as “questionable” to return with a hip injury. Levy had missed the first four games of the year with a hip injury. It isn’t clear if Levy would have returned in a closer game, but that he at least aggravated the injury is a concern.
Riddick showed promise: If you’re looking for a bright spot in the blowout, it is that once again, running back Theo Riddick was useful as a receiver out of the backfield and in the slot. He had 10 catches for 53 yards and a touchdown and should see an increased role as things move forward.
2008 revisited: In the second half, the Lions had two former winless-season quarterbacks on the field. Orlovsky replaced Stafford, and Drew Stanton, who played in three games for the 2008 Lions, replaced Carson Palmer with the game well out of hand. Considering where the Lions stand right now, it was an interesting coincidence.