Who are the Detroit Lions?

There has been a question surrounding Jim Caldwell's Detroit Lions ever since he arrived. It seems everyone is looking on the wrong side of the ball to find the answer.

Ask yourself: “Why did the Lions win?”

They played so poorly in the first quarter they should have lost. That seems to be the general consensus. Then Matthew Stafford led the Lions on another fourth quarter comeback. They were lucky… again. My answer to that? No, they weren’t. Here’s why.

Let’s keep everybody happy for at least one paragraph and admit the Lions offense looked lethargic again early in the game. Special teams were a nightmare. The Lions were lucky to only be down ten points at the end of the first quarter. Really?

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator – Teryl Austin

Here’s a stat few know – the Cardinals are the 17th team to score 20 points or less in the Lions last 25 games. Yes, Arizona scored 23 but you can’t count Stafford’s pick six against Teryl Austin’s defense. The Cardinals only scored 16 against that Lions defense. In fact, the defense only gave up three points in the first half. It’s why they were in the game, allowing Stafford to mount his patented fourth quarter comeback.

I look for the reasons why the Lions win. Let the skeptics explain why they should have lost… too many of them, anyway. But Teryl Austin’s defense played great in the first quarter, in fact, they played great for the entire game. Against the Cardinals, the Lions defense recorded four turnovers – three interceptions, one was returned for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery.  Defense is an aspect of the game that gets overlooked far too often. “Why?” is simple: Defense is not as sexy as offense.

That’s nice, but it still doesn’t explain… yes… it… does. Watch this. Remember, the Lions defense has held teams to 20-or-less points 17 times in their last 25 games. The Lions win-loss record over those 25 games is 16-9. Beginning to get the picture of who the Detroit Lions really are?

The money man

Matthew Stafford is money when the game is on the line. Teryl Austin has his defense on point from beginning to end. There have been some horrific losses. All teams have those. Look no further than last week when New England lost to Kansas City 42-28 at home. But Jim Caldwell has a history of winning close games. His career record as a head coach in one score games is 34-21 or 62 percent. The average NFL head coach is 50-50. 

Stafford has 29 come from behind wins, which is second in NFL history for QBs under 30 years old. He’s 29 years old right now. Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons is the leader in comeback wins under 30 years old with 32. The numbers bear it out, Stafford’s heroics feed off of the prolific scoring defense of the Lions. They literally go hand in hand.

The Lions identity is their defense

Watch the Lions defense this year because in a short time they are going to get a reputation for holding teams to 20 points or less. Next week the Lions play the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. They played each other last December and the Giants… they only scored 17 points.

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Chris Decker