Monday Ramblings – Jan 5, 2015: Lions Season Ends in Controversy, Raps Not Playing D and Jays Go Silent

By now everyone has seen it. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, other than Jerry Bergman, that Anthony Hitchens committed a Pass Interference penalty on Brandon Pettigrew. The back judge threw the flag but was overruled by Bergman who was the head ref and claimed to have the better view. That play changed the momentum of the game and the Lions never recovered from a game they led by 13 well into the 3rd quarter. That play kept them from holding that lead, but it was terrible play calls, coaching decisions and QB execution that lost the game. With the Lions at mid-field on 4th and 1, Caldwell had the offense lineup as if to go for it, and then had them just let the play clock run out and take a delay of game penalty before punting and the punt was miffed and only went about 10 yards. What the hell?!! A QB sneak, a FB push, a RB dive, any of those would have gotten at least the yard needed to keep the drive going. Caldwell claims since they were already ahead he was hoping to draw the Cowboys offside and get the automatic 1st down. Really? That’s your answer? I understand his calm demeanor has helped this team but you can not play that conservative and just “hope for the best” in a win-or-go-home playoff game! Especially on the road! That example plus some bad offensive play calling with the Lions backed up in their own end as well as Stafford only seeming to play 3 out of 4 quarters equaled another playoff elimination in what is now the longest playoff winless streak in NFL history going back to 1991. In my eyes, it is just as much Caldwell’s fault as it is Bergman’s and once again the NFL’s inept referees help decide the outcome of a Lions game. Caldwell doesn’t need any help screwing up on the field, he did a fine job of that yesterday on his own. Hopefully it’s not the last time we see Suh and Fairley in Lions colours but its a long time until training camp so all we can do is sit and wait. The worst part of the NFL season is the stretch from February to draft night.

No matter what the analysts say about the Raptors still “growing” and “finding their way” everybody needs to be concerned with their lack of defense the past few weeks and noticeably the past 3 games. They were up by 13 against Portland in the 3rd quarter and from then until the end of last nights game have been outscored 290-241! That is not how you win division titles. They came home from the road trip 2-4 and other than Washington and Atlanta, have yet to beat anyone of substance. Even more, since they last played, Washington and Atlanta have been two of the best teams in the league and will be a much bigger challenge next time. They have relied way too much on offense, especially shooting the three and they are not a consistently good 3-point team. They need to stay in the paint and try to draw fouls, wearing down the other team. There have been flashes of that defense we saw in November the past week but nothing sustainable. They are either ignoring Dwayne Casey or the message has become lost on them but if they don’t clean it up soon they might play themselves right out of the top three spots in the East. That is not acceptable in a conference this weak. Better clean it up fast boys, we’re almost at the halfway point.

There is an old saying in sports that goes “sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make” which I understand to a degree but this is ridiculous. Since the Jays traded for Michael Saunders, other than pick up a couple of guys off waivers, they have made zero moves. They still do not have a solid bullpen, a closer or an everyday 2nd baseman. Navarro is still on the roster as is Dickey and Thole. There have been no rumors and no news with Pitchers and Catchers reporting to camp next month! I’m not sure what conversations have been taking place but this team seems a lot further from contending than last season right now. It is well known that pitching wins in the playoffs and with 3/5 of the starting rotation in their first or second full seasons, you need a strong bullpen to carry the load. It’s getting a little late into the off-season for this much non-movement and the silence is deafening.

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