My take on ‘Dark Lane Demo Tapes’

Drake dropped a ‘surprise’ mixtape full of what he calls “songs people have been asking for (some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes)”.

I would call myself a former Drake stan so I didn’t rush to listen to this. Still, some of Drake’s songs resonate with me – even if they’re nothing more than what we expect. That’s what I found with this mixtape. So, let’s get into it.

Thoughts track by track

Deep Pockets – I was not too impressed by this one and it hasn’t really grown on me. On my first listen I didn’t like it as the opening track. Just a whole lot of nothing going on.

When To Say When – I really liked this beat. I honestly feel like this song should’ve been the opening track. Some typical Drake “number” bars to start off. The Michael Jackson and Percocet lines surprised me.

Chicago Freestyle – Okay, so we’re into the singles section of the tape. I didn’t love this song when it first came out. It was released as a video, or at least that’s how I first listened to it and I just did not love the song as I watched the video.

But, listening to it on this mixtape, I warmed up to it. I like the hook by Gideon. And I’ve grown to like the Eminem shoutout with the Superman lyrics. This is good to vibe to, a plus song for me on this tape.

Not You Too – This one didn’t do much for me. The beat isn’t bad. You see the song features Chris Brown and you expect much more, but all he does is sing backup vocals, which is frustrating. We’re left with a typical Drake relationship song and I wasn’t really feeling it.

Toosie Slide – You know it, you’ve already heard it a million times. It’s a vibe; it’s catchy. That’s really it. “200 shooters on my brother’s block!”

Desires – One of my favorites right here. Incredibly catchy hook. The Future verse is perfect, if anything it could be longer. Future gets extra points in my book for the spirituality reference.

Both of Drake’s verses work for me. I especially liked how Drake worked the lean lines in the beginning of his first verse. And we get a classic Drake line: “how you going vegan but still beefing with me again?” The lead in to Time Flies is fantastic, making Desires and Time Flies the best part of this mixtape for me.

Time Flies – So we’re screaming “I’m outside in a AMG” all summer, huh? I liked the first two lines of Drake’s verse, but besides that, the hook is the whole song to me.

Landed – “Wrote this with the Cartier pen do it sound different?” To answer your question, Drake: not really.

D4L – Oh it’s Young Thug! I wish he would’ve had a verse instead of just the hook, adlibs and say “I eat calamari” but you take what you can get. I like Future here again, he adds a gritty element. Drake’s verse to me is a throwaway.

Side note: I LOVE Southside’s usual tag/effect – it’s one of my favorite producer tags.

Pain 1993 – First listen I was intrigued. The beat and Drake’s flow really set off the Playboi Carti vibes. Carti’s voice and delivery made me want to go back and listen again.

Losses – Just kind of a typical what I call one-two Drake song. It’s a very familiar tone and style. The typical, cheesy lines like “Like I’m tryna show the waves, this is no cap / You sold me up the river, but I rowed back / You put me on the road without a roadmap.” But this song is a pretty comfortable feel. It’s a decent cut.

From Florida With Love – “Plug!” that’s all I really have to say about this one. Probably not a bad one to have on shuffle or in the car.

Demons – I heard a snippet of this one the day this tape dropped and I was looking forward to hearing the full version. I like the grime influence. I don’t really feel any way about this one, though.

War – Another leak/release way before this tape dropped. I enjoy the vibe of this one. I’m glad it made it to the tape.

Final Thought

To me, there’s only a few good songs out of the 14 tracks. It is just a mixtape, so maybe that’s fine. But I don’t see Dark Lane Demo Tapes staying in my rotation.

Did you listen to this mixtape? Let me know what you thought of it! Thanks for reading.

An After Hours 'After Hours' Review

The Weeknd is back. After a couple days of letting “After Hours” sit there on Apple Music I gave it a listen – thanks to the couple of people who asked me if I listened to it. Here’s how I listened and what I thought.

How I Listened

Any time I listen to a new album for the first time it has to be straight through, front-to-back. And for ‘After Hours’, I made the effort to deep listen to the album after seeing this LA Times article. Essentially: sit there, do nothing except listen to the album in its entirety. So that’s what I did.

To listen, I waited until I got home from work, which was around midnight. I turned the lights off and laid in my bed, eyes closed. It worked pretty well for this album because of its dark, moody nature. I would encourage you to take the same deep listening approach of ‘do nothing, just listen’ the next time you listen to a new album.

Overview

It’s actually really good to hear Abel’s voice. His last release in 2018 feels really far away, so it’s glad to have him back.

Man, this album feels just perfect for right now: quarantine, all alone vibes, and it feels like it could be the soundtrack for a Batman movie.

Abel knows his strength and sticks to it: he’s gonna sing, he’s gonna talk about relationships and his vices and he’s gonna do a great job doing it.

The singles: ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ (now both certified platinum) fit really well with the rest of the track list.

I liked the head bobbing moments for pacing of the album.

This is an enjoyable listen. I’ve been listening to it consistently this week after my first listen.

The Review

I really liked how the album opened up. ‘Alone Again’ set the stage for an hour-long trip of pure Weeknd. It was refreshing; sometimes you don’t always get a good intro track.

I felt like on ‘Hardest To Love’ we actually hear him sing for the first time. The vocals are stripped down which really brings the emotion across.

A song like ‘Snowchild’ started off so promising. The beat made you feel like this was going to be a banger. And maybe my brother telling me he liked this one made me have high expectations, too! I’ve warmed up to this one the last couple of days. I ended up liking the rhyme scheme which brings me to another thought: the Weeknd knows what he’s doing with sharp, simple lyrics.

Like these from Snowchild: “Walking in the snow before I ever made my wrist freeze”; “Stack a couple M’s like I’m Shady”; “Got me moving dirty like I’m Swayze, All my diamonds dancing like I’m Swayze” – and from Scared To Live: “If I held you back, at least I held you close.”

‘Faith’ This was an eye-opener, a ‘sheesh!’ moment for me. I feel like he didn’t explicitly talk about drugs that much up to this point – maybe I wasn’t listening close enough. But lyrics like “But if I OD, I want you to OD right beside me” – that got my attention. So did the lyrics “I lost my religion, I’m losing my faith everyday.”

‘Blinding Lights’ brings us back to an up-tempo feel. I love the open of the track, I get the Batman vibes there, and I really like the 80s vibe. This has become one of my favorite songs on the album.

‘In Your Eyes’ keeps that 80s vibe going. This one is a bop.

The interlude ‘Repeat After Me’ comes at a good time: near the end, almost making making the listener refocus. It sounds really nice – according to Genius it’s produced by Kevin Parker. Makes sense.

‘Until I Bleed Out’ is a great final effort for the album. It puts the finishing touches on the album and the imagery in ‘I wanna cut you outta my dreams ’til I’m bleeding out’ is really something. And it’s kind of gross. About that…

Album Art/Visuals

I didn’t use the album art for this blog because it’s gross! It’s off-putting, and that might be part of why it is the album art but, man it’s hard to look at.

And if you happen to catch the ‘In Your Eyes’ video: that’s creepy and kind of gross too. I didn’t watch the full thing, I saw the Youtube comments.

In the end

This is an enjoyable album. It’s nice to hear from The Weeknd again with some more music that – calling on broken relationships and escapism – most people can relate to.

If you got this far, let me know what you thought of ‘After Hours’ here on the blog or social media! Thank you!

WMU vs BYU Overview

Jarvion Franklin getting a carry in the 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Photo via WMU.

It’s bowl season and this year WMU gets to play along. It’s a good step for Tim Lester’s program in year two and a chance to end the year very promisingly after a letdown stretch towards the end of the year.

WMU is in Boise, Idaho to play Brigham Young University. It’s WMU’s second appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the Broncos are looking for only their second bowl win in program history (1-7 in bowls).

But we know about WMU. What about BYU?

Program Overview

BYU, an independent, went 6-6 this year. This is BYU’s third year with coach Kalani Sitake at the helm, with a 19-19 record to his name so far.

Notably, BYU beat Wisconsin in Madison this year. Other notable teams they played against were Arizona (won 28-23), Washington (lost 35-7), Northern Illinois (lost 7-6) and Utah (lost 35-27).

Team Overview (stats via NCAA)

Total Offense: 107th. Offensive YPG: 354.5 (behind BGSU, Miami, EMU, Ball State)

BYU’s offense is similar to WMU and a lot of other teams. They line up in spread looks half the time and then bring guys in tight and go under center for more of a pro-style look. BYU uses lots of motion and some misdirection. They like to run the ball and work the passing game out of it. Quarterback Zach Wilson will run the ball and they have good running backs that they rotate.

Total Defense: 18th. Defensive YPG: 325 (ahead of Notre Dame, Florida, LSU, NIU).

Rush Defense: 26th. Rush YPG allowed: 129.4 (ahead of Georgia, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio)

Defensively, BYU runs a 3-4. In that 3-4 they show some varied looks, letting the defensive ends move around from the line to linebacker spots. I didn’t see them use a lot of pressure against NIU. As the numbers show – and according to coach Lester – this is a good defense that makes you earn everything.

Key Players

Zach Wilson, QB #11. Wilson is a true freshman quarterback. He has been the starter for six weeks, leading BYU to a 3-3 record. Watching BYU highlights you can see that he is very athletic. He likes to run and is fourth on the team in carries. He’s got a nice arm and has athletes on the outside to throw to.

Lopini Katoa, RB #4. Freshman running back who leads the team in rushing touchdowns. His status for the game is unknown as he missed BYU’s last game of the year with an injury. However, he is listed as a starter on BYU’s pre-bowl depth chart.

Squally Canada, RB #22. Senior running back, team leader in carries. Missed the last two games of season with an injury. If Katoa can’t go, Canada will be getting a lot of the reps, although in highlights he seems to be more of a short yardage guy.

Matt Bushman, TE #89. Leads the team in receiving yards. Probably a safety valve for Wilson much like Gio Ricci for WMU.

Aleva Hifo, WR #15. Leads team in receptions, also returns kicks. Listed as slot receiver on BYU’s pre-bowl depth chart. They will get him the ball on screens and hand it off to him as well (29 carries this season).

Sione Takitaki, LB #16. Leads team with 99 tackles.

Khyiris Tonga, DT #95. Tonga is HUGE. He’s 340 pounds, and looks to plug up the middle of the offensive line.

Injuries

BYU will be missing some of their top players in the Potato Bowl. Out with injury are RB Matt Hadley, DE Corbin Kaufusi, LB Isaiah Kaufusi and potentially Lopini Katoa as mentioned above.

What They’re Saying: BYU Expecting a physical game https://www.sltrib.com/sports/byu-cougars/2018/12/17/byu-is-heavy-favorite/

What Coach Lester Said: Lester spent about 25 minutes addressing the media in his pre-bowl presser. When asked about what stood out to him on film about BYU, he replied saying ‘they’re huge’. He also talked about how he was impressed with their defense, saying they’re “stout as heck”.

What I Say: I feel like this will be a close game decided in the fourth quarter. Whoever can win the battle up front will win, and whoever is the stronger, better conditioned team will have the better chance of winning this football game.

From the looks of it, BYU is a big team that plays physical. They have a lot of talent as shown by their wins over Arizona and Wisconsin. Their defense carries the team and will be the key factor in deciding this game. BYU isn’t the best offense that we will have faced this year but their size and athleticism will be a test for WMU.

For WMU, they need to continue what we’ve seen the past few weeks of the season. Run the ball as much as we can and then look to spread the ball around a little bit off of play action. If it doesn’t snow, I’d like to see WMU throw more than they have in weeks past.

As far as the spread goes, 12 is a big number. I don’t feel like BYU covers that unless the game gets away from WMU late. WMU isn’t great against the spread, but I still feel like the game will be closer than 12 points.

I’ll pick WMU to win, just because I want them to win. However, it could end up being a very tough game for the Broncos.

From what I was reading, BYU might not be up for this game. They’ve already played in Boise this year (they lost) and probably deserved a better season and bowl game.

WMU on the other hand should be hungry after missing a bowl game last year. They also probably deserved a better season, but this game is an opportunity for them to end the year on a high note.

Thanks for reading, and Go Broncos!

WMU comes up short in Muncie, loses out on chance for MAC West title

Screen Shot 2018-11-16 at 9.43.11 AM

LeVante Bellamy had a huge game against Ball State. Photo via WMU Broncos.

It was a tough loss for the Broncos Tuesday night after Ball State stopped WMU from converting a two point conversion in overtime to win 42-41. From my vantage point, there were plenty of positives. It was a good game between the teams with both offenses scoring and racking up yards. In the end it was a very tough loss for WMU, as they were favored coming in to the game and needed a win to keep their MAC West dreams alive.

Here’s what I saw from the game.

Back to Basics

WMU got back to what they’ve been really good at the last couple of years: running the ball. The Broncos piled up 331 yards rushing, using a lot of two tight end looks; either in a Wing-T formation or with both tight ends stacked on one side off the ball. The offensive line did a much better job than in previous weeks with getting a push.

LeVante Bellamy lead the way with 213 yards and a TD and Jamauri Bogan had a very nice game with 105 yards and 2 TDs.

It’s so fun to watch LeVante run with the way he uses his speed and having Jamauri as a compliment to him has been a luxury for WMU. Bellamy’s huge game put him over 1,000 yards for the year (he leads the MAC) and Bogan’s two TDs extended his lead for rushing touchdowns in the conference.

Hats off again to the offensive line and tight ends and to Coach Lester for a nice game plan. WMU controlled time of possession and was able to respond well to Ball State’s scores with composed, balanced drives.

Defense!?!

It was another tough game for the WMU defense and it ended up getting defensive coordinator Tim Daoust fired.

To be honest, I don’t feel that they played that terrible. They were able to force a couple turnovers and they made a couple of timely stops. The defense also held Ball State to 67 yards rushing, which is pretty outstanding.

Unfortunately, some of the same issues we’ve seen all year showed up like struggling in coverage and tackling. Ball State’s offense worked pretty exclusively through the air with 282 yards and 3 TDs.

It’s hard to remember that the defense is young with three new linebackers and some new defensive backs, but we haven’t seen a lot of improvement out of them this year. A change was necessary and we will have to see how the defense will improve going into the possible bowl game/next season.

The Decision

Tim Lester made the call to go for the win in overtime, and I totally agree with his decision.

Obvious possible motives for the call: WMU had been running the ball well all night; Lester didn’t have faith in the defense.

You’ve gotta be able to get the two yards necessary, and the play that they called had worked throughout the game (it did fail on a previous fourth down however, and didn’t really appear to work that well in the red zone). It’s something that if it works, everyone loves it and if it doesn’t they hate it. Obviously since it didn’t work we all wish Lester would’ve called something different like a QB keep or RPO looking for Gio or Jayden. It didn’t work out, oh well.

Looking at the defense, they had just given up the go ahead score after Ball State picked up a chunk of yards on the first play of OT. I don’t think anyone watching thought WMU would be able to come up with a stop.

It hurt to lose the game like that but it’s all good experience for the team and for Lester and the staff.

Quick Hitters

Hats off to Kaleb Eleby. He pretty much did what Coach Lester asked him to in handing the ball off a lot and making sharp, short throws. He did miss a throw at the end of the first half that would’ve been a touchdown to Dee. He made a great throw to Gio on 4th and 8 late in the game to pick up a first down. Eleby has some zip on his throws and was able to use his feet a little bit. I’m very excited for his future.

LeVante Bellamy had a huge game, but he fumbled twice, losing one of them. I guess it’s harsh to criticize him when he did so well, but you can’t fumble the ball. Someone once said, “The ball is the program.”

Backpacking off of that, WMU needs to be more disciplined. I know Kaleb is still new at QB, I know that you’re going to have penalties, but there were a couple of false starts that killed at least one drive. We have to eliminate that.

Nice job by Gavin Peddie on his kicks.

That’s a Wrap

Well, it was a disappointing result for WMU. I’m overall happy that they came out and looked better than they did against Ohio. It would’ve been great to win – and we probably should’ve won – especially with NIU losing to Miami. We also could’ve really used a win to up our bowl stock.

One last go around on Tuesday against NIU. Let’s see what we can do against the Huskies.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Checking in with WMU Football

Jason McMillan BC Enquirer

Photo via Jason McMillan, Battle Creek Enquirer. 

That Ohio game was ugly. It’s the worst game I can remember going back to the 1-11 season in 2013. And at this point in Tim Lester’s tenure, it was an unacceptable effort by the Broncos. It was painful to watch.

Going into the game, I had two questions:

How will Kaleb Eleby play/respond to his first start?

How will the defense look after getting roughed up by Toledo?

They did not answer those questions well. The lack of discipline and passion showed Thursday, and, if we’re being honest, the last few weeks of the season, are signs of serious concern. The team has too much talent to be turning in games like that.

Let’s go over some themes from the game and look ahead to the rest of the season.

Special Teams

Where should I start?

Following a solid first drive of the game, Gavin Peddie stepped up for a 39 yard field goal and he missed it. Field goal kicking has been a letdown for WMU the last two years. While the game got out of hand, missed kicks can contribute to overall morale. Ohio was able to respond with a touchdown, taking any momentum WMU might have had after a good opening drive.

Then of course is the blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, making it 21-0 Ohio in the first quarter.

And then you had two fumbles on consecutive kickoffs, resulting in 10 points for Ohio.

It’s unacceptable. It points to lack of discipline, lack of motivation or will to compete and coaching.

Kaleb Eleby

Everyone was pretty impressed with the way Kaleb performed against Toledo. I was excited to see who his preferred targets would be, how the running game would help him out and what kind of game Tim Lester would call for him.

Unfortunately, the game was pretty much out of hand before Kaleb could even make an impact. While WMU was looking to make a push down 21-0, he did make a bad throw that was intercepted, ending a drive that could’ve got some momentum back.

In the next two games I want to see how he responds to pressure and what kind of games Coach Lester will call. Though he’s a freshman, WMU needs to be aggressive in throwing the ball, partly because opposing defenses will be even more committed to stopping the run.

The Defense

WMU’s defense had a rough go of it against Ohio. They also struggled against Toledo. The defense is struggling to get a push up front putting pressure on the DB’s who are struggling in coverage. Looking back at the BG, Miami and EMU games, this has been a reoccurring theme. Yes, there are some young players on that side of the ball, but it hasn’t been pretty.

The defense didn’t have any help in the Ohio game, with terrible field position and facing an offense that Lester said was one of the most efficient in the country (#30 in the country, #1 total offense in MAC as of 11/8).

Obviously, WMU needs to find some answers on the defensive side of the ball. While they’ve faced two of the better offenses in the conference the last two weeks, it doesn’t get any easier as next opponent Ball State has the fifth-best offense in the MAC.

I’ll be looking to see how the unit responds after a 12 day break between games. They need to scheme something up to stop Ball State since playing within the system hasn’t been working that well.

Looking Ahead

With a couple of bad losses the last two games, the season outlook looks pretty bleak. However, WMU STILL has a *chance* to win the MAC West. For that to happen, WMU needs to win their last two games (and get some help). First up is Ball State (11/13) and then NIU (11/20).

All things considered, has it been that terrible of a year for the team? The last few weeks were incredibly frustrating, but one solid goal is still in front of us: a bowl game.

Therefore, WMU needs to take care of business. Pick up one more win to secure a bowl game for the program. That’s very important after missing out last year at 6-6.

We can talk more about the season when it ends. For now, all I want is the team to show some fire, and be better than the last game. Beat Ball State, and get ready for a battle with NIU after that.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions for me or want me to write about anything, let me know here or on Twitter!

Georgia State Preview

jayden reed

Jayden Reed returning a punt against Delaware State. Photo via Jason McMillan, BC Enquirer.

Western Michigan took care of Delaware State last week, putting up 68 points en route to a shutout victory at Waldo Stadium. No need to really go into it further than saying it was a much needed confidence boost for the team heading into the rest of the season.

Next is a trip to Atlanta to face Georgia State. I know nothing about this team so I figure not many others outside of GSU do either. So, for myself and the other Bronco fans out there I wanted to do a little research to be prepared for this matchup. I say that because having to go on the road all the way to Georgia and face a team we don’t really know about seems a little daunting.

Here is a little about GSU’s style of play, guys to look for and how their season has shook out thus far.

Playing Style

This team is actually very similar in style to WMU. They run a spread offense, relying a lot on the quarterback to make reads and move the ball around to their talented playmakers on the outside. They will use the screen game to get the ball out quickly just like WMU does.

According to coach Lester, GSU plays a similar style of defense as WMU does. During his weekly presser he said GSU was ‘pretty good at getting to the QB and decent in coverage’.

GSU has struggled on this side of the ball though, partly because they have played some superior opponents the last few weeks (NC State and Memphis). They did not have a good game against Memphis, giving up 410 yards rushing in a 59-22 loss. One thing Lester attributed GSU’s struggles in the run game to was some new players in the secondary who have been a little slow to come up and support the front seven in the run game.

Big Names

Dan Ellington – QB #13. Ellington is a first year starter at GSU. He can run and throws a decent ball. What concerns me is his dual threat ability because WMU struggled against Eric Dungey and Syracuse. Ellington is one of GSU’s primary runners in read option and designed run plays. He can also get the ball out to some very versatile targets outside.

Penny Hart – WR #18. Hart is the lead target for Ellington and the Panthers’ offense. A first-team all conference player last year, Hart entered 2017 as the active FBS leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. He’s a dynamic threat and pairs well with GSU’s other receivers. Tim Lester said Hart “has the ‘it’ factor” and when you watch GSU’s highlights you can see that to be true.

Christian Owens – WR #85. The first thing you notice about Owens is how big he is. He’s very talented and really goes to get the ball. The 6’4″ receiver is a transfer from South Carolina. He was a four star recruit in high school according to Rivals and ESPN. If GSU isn’t throwing to Penny Hart, Owens is the guy they’re looking for.

Destin Coates – RB #17. Coates is the leading rusher from the RB spot for GSU. The freshman averages six yards a carry and has the ability to make plays if you don’t bring him down on first contact.

Marterious Allen – DE #95. Allen measures out at 6’2″ 270 lbs. He’s a playmaker on the edge. He led GSU in sacks last year and was named third-team all conference in 2017.

Other notables: Devin Gentry – WR #14 , Tra Barnett RB #5.

Season Rewind (with highlights!)

GSU opened the season against fifth ranked FCS opponent Kennesaw State and it was a close one. Georgia State ended up winning a back and forth game with a touchdown with under a minute remaining.

1-0 GSU then went on the road to play ACC opponent NC State. GSU scored on their first possession and played pretty decent in the first half before going on to lose 41-7.

Last week GSU played on ESPN vs Memphis and proceeded to really just get outclassed. They couldn’t stop Memphis and lost 59-22.

So…

So, I think that Georgia State has some athletes that can give the WMU defense a hard time. WMU needs to play sound assignment football to try and keep Dan Ellington under wraps. They also need to work together in the secondary to cover Hart and Owens. It doesn’t look to be an easy task for the WMU defense.

On the other side of the ball the WMU offense should be able to dictate the game. LeVante Bellamy and Jamauri Bogan should have a good day behind WMU’s offensive line. With WMU’s strong run game and new starters in the GSU secondary, Jon Wassink shouldn’t have trouble connecting with Dee Eskridge, Drake Harris and Jayden Reed.

Hopefully, WMU can take care of business in the ATL and be 2-2 heading into the MAC season. It’s about to get real for the Broncos as we see what they’ve really got in conference play.

Thanks for reading, and Go Broncos!

 

 

Week Two at San Francisco

Week Two saw the Lions lose again and in a familiar way. Still, there were some bright spots to be encouraged about and obviously some areas where improvement is needed. I think it was a better performance and a step forward for the team in some ways.

Some of my questions heading into the game:

How would the team respond, overall?

How would the offense look in Week Two?

Would the defense be able to step up and make some plays?

Would special teams not be a disaster?

Let’s go over some of the things I saw after watching the game.

Big Play Defense

Yes! We have a big play defense. Unfortunately, what I mean is that they give up some big plays over the course of the game while making their share of big plays. One of the alarming things a lot of fans have noticed is the lack of tackling. It’s been a trend in the league in recent years and has definitely been a problem for the Lions so far, specifically for guys like Jarrad Davis, unfortunately. This is something that needs to get better and hopefully will as the year goes on and everyone gets more comfortable in the defense. Then maybe we won’t get gashed for some huge runs that really break a defense.

On the positive end, the defense stepped up when their number was called. On the first drive of the game, they got two sacks that forced SF into a field goal after they marched down the field. The Lions defense ended up with four sacks in the first half, benefitting from pretty good coverage and some blitzes/stunts that freed up defenders. Otherwise, there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on Jimmy G.

After Matthew Stafford fumbled in the second quarter to give the 49ers great field position the defense again came up with a stop to force a field goal.

In the fourth quarter with the Lions down 10, the defense came up with another stop to give the Lions a chance. Guys like Quandre Diggs and Jamal Agnew stepped up in coverage on that possession and that is very encouraging going forward.

And, you’ll remember, down three, the Lions came up with a couple more stops. One being the interception by Tracy Walker that got called back; and then later in that drive to give the Lions one last shot with about a minute left.

I know they got gashed on some run plays and struggled getting a push and pass rush. I know some guys like Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor struggled in coverage. They’re going to learn and get better. The defense can’t be to blame when they come up with enough stops and give the ball to the offense to give the team a chance. This is something we’ve seen the last few years, and it’s really quite frustrating. The unit that we thought to be our strength – our offense – continues to struggle even after our weaker unit delivers. Now, about that offense.

“O” No…not again.

Sunday was just another chapter in a sad story we’ve seen for the last few years. As I said on Twitter, it was the type of game that we fired Caldwell for, and that doesn’t bode well for Jim Bob Cooter.

Now it wasn’t all bad. We actually got a push up front and had some success running the ball! Which is great, and to me, means that we need to commit to the run. Keep working with it, add some wrinkles here and there and keep the running backs rotating. The run game paid off on the first touchdown to Kenny, who was wide open after coming down into the slot or wing position and faking a block.

An area of concern for me is third down. Notably, third and short/manageable. Somewhat like the red zone, when the field gets shorter the Lions fall into some trouble and look like they have their hands tied a little bit. It’s not an easy place to call plays but the idea I think should be to be aggressive. This falls on Matthew too. See what the defense is giving us and attack instead of just trying to get the three or four needed yards. Golden, Theo, and the tight ends are all guys to look for in these sort of situations. Michael Roberts showed up late in the game with a TD and could really come into his own on third down. And, Wilson had at least one catch and a nice run after, so bring them into the fold more and let’s see what they can do.

Another area of concern is the play of Matthew Stafford. I am slow to criticize him because he is our best player and one of the reasons this team has been mediocre the last couple years. But, we all saw that he missed some throws in Sunday’s game that he probably shouldn’t have. So what gives? Obviously, he’s been under pressure. He didn’t get hit too much on Sunday which is good, but he was forced to move around a little bit.

Lions beat writer Justin Rogers pointed to Stafford’s mechanics on Twitter.

Matthew has to be better and he knows that. The thing is everyone else needs to be better to. A lot of guys are dropping passes, the protection varies and our run game isn’t where we want it yet. Continued improvement is the goal and is what we’ll all be watching for.

SPECIAL Teams

All caps just ’cause. To be a great team you have to win in all phases. Anyways, just from watching the game you would say Sam Martin had a better day punting the ball. Still, he has one of the worst net averages in the league according to the aforementioned Logan Lamorandier.

The opening kickoff of the second half was not good. You can’t come out and allow the other team to take the momentum like that. It resulted in a quick score and gave the Lions a bigger hill to climb.

Positively, Jamal Agnew was HUGE. On the ensuing kickoff after that Niners score to open the third he returned it out near midfield. Then, of course he had the punt return for a touchdown called back. He’s a bright spot and playmaker back there, and the Lions need to eliminate mistakes like penalties in the return game so it can be a catalyst for the offense.

Last, and certainly, not least: Discipline

Penalties were a huge factor in Sunday’s game and for both teams actually. The Lions racked up 10 penalties for 106 yards, which is pretty much inexcusable. A couple of them were drive killers: the Lions’ first play in the red zone in the third quarter was a holding penalty. The next play after that was another holding penalty. They ended up having to kick a field goal.

Another big one was on Jamal Agnew’s punt return for a touchdown. After looking at it, I didn’t really see an illegal block. Jamal didn’t make it easy on the return team but still. Just don’t block a guy if you’re not in position to.

And lastly, the holding penalty on Quandre on Tracy Walker’s pick near the end of the game. It didn’t look like a penalty at all but the NFL says it was the right call.

For me, yes it’s very frustrating to end up on the wrong end of some of these judgement calls. But, if you don’t want the officials to have an impact, don’t let them be in a position to affect the outcome. Also, the Lions have never ‘earned’ any sort of calls from the refs and they never will until they become a top team that gets the benefit of the doubt. So, just beat the other team and don’t give the refs a chance to have a say.

Last Word

So, this game left a lot to be desired on both sides of the ball. It looked like an improvement over Week One, though. For me, all eyes are on the offense. They have to do a better job. JBC is officially on the very warm seat. How long will they give him to figure things out? He needs to work with the team’s strengths and shape the offense’s direction around that.

Obviously a huge challenge coming up this week. SNF, against the Pats. Most anyone would say the Lions have no chance. It’s a very intriguing matchup between Patricia and Belichick, and no matter what happens I’m really looking forward to the game.

That’s where I’m at with this team. Obviously, you want to win, but the bigger thing to me right now is how the Lions look. Are they improving? If the Lions would’ve won on Sunday it would’ve covered up the issues the team has like in year’s past. Now let’s see what we’ve got against one of the best teams in the league.

What’d you think of Sunday’s game? Do the Lions have any chance against New England? Let me know! Thanks for reading.