1. Matthew Stafford is still healthy– Gotta love when a liability turns into an asset. Every fan fearsStaffordis one hit away from then end of the season, which is fair. At this point, he’s still in, and he’s been absolutely fantastic. The former Georgia quarterback is 100-161, 1217 yards, 11 touchdowns, only 3 picks, and a passer rating of 100.3. Those are the numbers you want to see from a number one overall pick. Now the linemen just have to make sure he stays in there.
2. Mental Toughness – You don’t come back from two 20 point second half deficits without being mentally tough. It doesn’t matter if Tony Romo becomes an honorary teammate orMinnesotaforgets it has Adrian Peterson. The bottom line is that the Lions have not folded up shop at half time. They have come out of the locker room, refused to give up, and continued to work hard to get back into ball games. Can you remember another Lions team doing that in the last decade…or three?
3. Half-Time adjustments – How about what that coaching staff has done in the second half the last two weeks. I understand the need to stick to the run, wanting to stay away from the blitz, and short throws with runs after the catch possibilities. It worked well the first two weeks. The last two weeks, when facing big deficits, it’s like the handcuffs came off ofStafford. He started looking, successfully, down the field to make the big plays. Obviously, getting to 4-0 shows the adjustments are working.
4. Calvin Johnson – Would it surprise you to learn he’s not in the top ten in catches or yards? It does me. Would it surprise you he has a three touchdown lead on every other receiver? Probably not. I don’t want to use the term “uncoverable,” but he’s about as close as it gets. Think about the four big catches the last three weeks. The post route on fourth and goal against the Chiefs; the overtime catch against the Vikings; the two touchdowns against the Cowboys; on all of them, he just went up and got the ball. He was not going to be denied. He’s six foot, five inches and jumps another 4 feet into the air. How is a 5 foot 10 inch corner supposed to stop that? They can’t, and the Lion’s benefit.
5. Receiving Balance – The Lions already have five players with more than 10 receptions. Calvin and Brandon Pettigrew are both over 20. Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson have more than 15. The rookie Titus Young has 12. Don’t forget about Tony Scheffler. Why? He’s got only 3 receptions…with two of them being touchdowns. Who do you stop? Who do you cover? I don’t know if defenses have decided either.
6. Jason Hanson – The model of consistency over the last 20 years is off to another fantastic start. He’s 10-10, including 3-3 from 50+. Consider what that means. If the Lions are on the opponents 35, they are in scoring distance. That’s a huge benefit to any team. You always try to make the field as short as possible. With Hanson, the Lions do.
7. Turnovers –Detroithas been very good in this aspect. Actually, they are best in the NFL. The Lions are +8 in turnover ratio. They have 11 takeaways (7 interceptions, 4 fumbles) versus only 3 interceptions and no lost fumbles. In addition, they are tied for second with the 11 takeaways, while the giveaways are tied for first. When you can take the ball away and don’t give it back, you are going to be successful. In addition to those turnovers, the Lions have the two defensive touchdowns (both against the Cowboys).
8. Chris Houston – Quick, name the NFL leader in interceptions…well…if you guess Chris Houston, you win. Actually, he’s in a four way tie, but hey, this was supposed to be one of the Lions’ weak spots. Well,Houstondidn’t get that memo as he has been very solid on the corner.
9. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been his best yet – You’re probably thinking how is this good? Well, the Lions are 4-0, and Suh hasn’t been his best. That means wait until he cranks it up. Suh has only 8 unassisted tackles and two sacks. Now you can always make the argument that teams are doubling him, allowing other players to make plays. For instance, Kyle Vanden Bosch has 11 solo tackles and 3 sacks. The starting linebackers all have over 20 tackles. That means the wealth is being spread out, but I still want to see more from King Kong.
10. The record – The Lions are 4-0. Do we really need 10 reasons to love it!? In the last 11 years, the Lions have won 4 games or less FIVE times. Let’s enjoy the start and hope it continues.