Shutdown Corner fixes your team: The Detroit Lions

Jay Busbee

Here at Shutdown Corner, we want to help. So once a week, we'll go in and examine a team coming off a bad week, bad month, maybe a bad decade (you're in luck, Cleveland), and see what fixes can be made to turn around the season. So step aside, we've got this. Next under the microscope: the Detroit Lions.

Where they stand: 6-5, 1st place in NFC North, tied with Chicago.

What's gone right: What could possibly go wrong when you've got Calvin Johnson, possibly the greatest receiver of all time, lining up wide for you? Well, with the passing game, nothing: Megatron leads the league in receiving, and quarterback Matthew Stafford ranks third, behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Like many who have escaped the clutches of a Kardashian, Reggie Bush has found new life, and ranks tenth in the league in rushing yardage. Ndamukong Suh remains a demon, anchoring a d-line that ranks fourth in the league against the rush.

What's gone wrong: The defense is abysmal against the pass, ranking 28th in the league, and that's made even worse by the fact that the Lions defense doesn't have to guard against Stafford and Johnson. Suh has absolutely no margin for error and no benefit of the doubt at this point, so he needs to be on his best behavior every second of every game. The offensive line's matador-style protection has left Stafford desperate and off-balance.

What we'd fix: Detroit has to take care of the freaking football better. Stafford has thrown five interceptions the last two games, including a backbreaking four in the humiliating loss to Tampa Bay last week. The team's overall turnover ratio is -7, and that pace is only increasing in recent weeks. If you're giving the ball away time after time, it doesn't much matter if you rank seventh in the league in points scored. Stafford needs to maintain control of his team — he reportedly shot down Bush and Nate Burleson's idea of a players-only meeting on Monday — and this team needs to keep its eyes on the larger goal: the best chance they've had to win the NFC North in two decades.

The road ahead: Detroit has a couple of highly winnable games against Green Bay (on Thanksgiving) and Minnesota (season finale). Between those two, the Lions play Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Giants, all of which are possible wins ... or possible losses. In other words, the season's still very much in the hands of Megatron.

Is there hope? Yes indeed, but Detroit has to forget that it's Detroit and think of itself as a completely new team without the sad, sordid Motor City history that has dogged this team for a generation. Detroit has one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything it ever wanted. One moment. Will they capture it? Or just let it slip? To coin a phrase.

(Thanks to Cohen, Whitt, and Logan for the assist on this article.)

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