Lions trying to find ways to win

Posted Nov. 26, 2010 @ 6:52 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

One of the greatest chores for a young head coach is to try to find ways to teach his team how to win games. You can go through the Lions' season and find several cases where the team can't seem to finish off opponents. It's the biggest reason why the Lions sit at 2-9 and not 6-5 or better.

In Week One, the Lions had several chances to beat the Bears on the final drive, and though the referees caught some heat for that one, the rulebook says they actually called the "Calvin Johnson rule" correctly. In Week Two, the Lions made a furious comeback but couldn't get in range to tie the Eagles late with a FG attempt. In Week Three, the Lions pulled to within two points of the Packers in the final two minutes but couldn't get the ball back.

The Lions lost games to the Giants, Jets and Bills by one possession each and had opportunities to win each game. They held second-half leads against the Cowboys and Patriots but couldn't close out either game. Now Jim Schwartz is left to figure out how to get his young team to step on opponents' necks.

Part of it is a lack of experience. The Lions feature a number of young players in key positions, especially with a few starters injured. Defensively, holes remain and depth is still an issue. Offensively, Shaun Hill has done his best in reserve of Matthew Stafford most of the season, but the system is built around Stafford's strengths.

Some of it is confidence. Schwartz has tried hard to reverse the losing culture and get the Lions into a mindset of winners, but it's clear there's still work to be done. Although you can't imagine the team going nuts in free agency this offseason, adding another veteran or two such as Kyle Vanden Bosch certainly would help improve the heart of the locker room and the experience. And adding another powerful offensive lineman can't hurt when it comes to closing out games with the run.

Until the Lions learn how to close out games, it won't matter that the talent level is improved dramatically over the past few years.