LANDOVER, Md. – Egg, laid.
Here it was Sunday, fresh from the wet hen of a Lions offense that didn’t click and a Lions defense that didn’t attack. No touchdowns. No sacks. No win. All feathers.
Or, as Jon Kitna put it, “Today sucks.”
And in some ways, you saw it coming. For example, the moment I stepped outside Sunday and felt the sweltering sun beating down, I said to myself, “I bet Shaun Rogers won’t be a big factor today.”
And he wasn’t. Rogers, the Lions’ supremely talented but sporadically active defensive lineman, already misses chunks of games because of his knees and, let’s be honest, conditioning. And with the afternoon heat pelting that 350-pound body, you figured recovery time might be an issue.
On Sunday, Rogers was out there and then he was gone, and then he was out, and then he was gone – much like the Lions all day long. And sure enough, just as with the Philadelphia loss (another long afternoon in a blazing sun), the Lions’ pass rush put no pressure on quarterback Jason Campbell, allowing him a Tom Brady For A Day fantasy, completing 23 of 29 passes for 248 yards as the Redskins rolled.
“You’d love him in there all the time,” Lions coach Rod Marinelli admitted about Rogers, who had just two solo tackles in the 34-3 blowout. But again, you expected the big man to be somewhat absent.
Who knew so many others would join him?
Start with the wide receivers
Where did Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson disappear to? Aren’t they the corner pieces of Mastermind Mike Martz’s offense? Williams had only two catches while the game was within reach and Johnson caught one pass all day – for three yards. One pass for three yards? Isn’t a 6-foot-5 jumping machine worth a couple toss-ups just to see what happens? And isn’t Williams the guy who says this team should score 35 points a week?
“I can’t worry about 10 other guys …” a clearly frustrated Williams said. “I gotta trust those guys do their job. I trust I’m gonna do mine. That’s how this thing works.”
Or doesn’t. Williams may well have been stinging over the offensive line, which also disappeared for much of the day, allowing a mediocre Washington pass rush to look like the 737th Tank Battalion. Let’s just say it. The line is bad. The Redskins sacked Jon Kitna five times. The man already leads the league in eating the turf, 23 sacks in five games.
The worst on Sunday came late in the third quarter, after the Lions had scored their first points of the day, and the offense had the ball back with dim hopes of salvation.
Instead, from their own 7-yard line, Kitna drifted back into the end zone, and Washington’s Andre Carter all but threw Jeff Backus to the ground, ripping him aside like a cheap shower curtain. He sacked Kitna for a safety.
A safety? From the 7-yard line? Come on. This is supposed to be a better team than that.
Once again – the yolk’s on them
And what about Kitna? Where did he go? The man who made so many good plays in the Lions’ three victories was all fumble-fingers Sunday – losing the ball three times. He was slow to pull the trigger, had just 106 passing yards and was picked off two times, which, by the way, is double the number of Lions’ third-down conversions.
Having said that, why the heck was Kitna still in there with less than a minute left and the score 34-3? Does Marinelli WANT to send this man to the hospital?
“He’s tough,” Marinelli said.
Tough? Be grateful he’s upright.
So the Lions are 3-2. The victories are the good news. But those losses were such blowouts – both in places where this franchise never makes headway – that you still wonder just how real this team is. That’s the price it pays for going “up and down,” as Marinelli called it.
No touchdowns. No red zone appearances. No sacks. No real pressure. The bye week is upon us, but it felt like it started Sunday, right around kickoff.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).