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Auditing The Detroit Lions 2008 Season
Christopher Reina. 2nd January, 2009 - 11:01 pm

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Record: 0-16
Trench Counter: -12.0 (32nd in NFL, 16th in NFC)
(Click here to learn more about the Trench Counter)
Point differential per game: 32nd, -15.6
Payroll: $95.8 million, 26th in NFL, 15th in NFC
Cost Per Win: N/A
Passing offense: 24th, 185 yards per game
Rushing offense: 27th, 83.3 yards per game
Passing defense: 30th, 232.3 yards per game
Rushing defense: 32nd, 172.1 yards per game
Turnover differential: 28th, -9

If their season were a song: 'Sixteen Candles' by The Crests

Game-by-Game (Score, Trench Counter)

- Strength of schedule: 10th

Week 1: at ATL, 21-34 Loss, -11.3
Week 2: GB, 25-48 Loss, -10.2
Week 3: at SF, 13-31 Loss, -19.8
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: CHI, 7-34 Loss, -16.4
Week 6: at MIN, 10-12 Loss, -5.1
Week 7: at HOU, 21-28 Loss, -0.5
Week 8: WSH, 17-25 Loss, -10.4
Week 9: at CHI, 23-27 Loss, -6.3
Week 10: JAX, 14-38 Loss, -11.1
Week 11: at CAR, 22-31 Loss, -10.2
Week 12: TB, 20-38 Loss, -12.7
Week 13: TEN, 10-47 Loss, -26.0
Week 14: MIN, 16-20 Loss, -0.6
Week 15: at IND, 21-31 Loss, -9.1
Week 16: NO, 7-42 Loss, -23.7
Week 17: at GB, 21-31 Loss, -19.2

Season Summary

Vegas definitely didn't see this season coming- the Lions were three-point favorites on the road in Atlanta in Week 1. The rest of the story is well-known, but here it goes:

The Lions were historically bad, and nothing could cushion that reality, but playing against the NFC South and AFC South didn't do them any favors. The Lions had the second hardest schedule in the NFC behind Minnesota and didn't get to play any of the worst five or six teams in the NFL. Next season should get easier, as the Lions have seven games on their 2009 schedule against teams with losing records. They will not go 0-32, and their defense will surely improve after giving up 517 points, which ranks only ahead of the 1981 Baltimore Colts' 533 points.

The talent drain of Dre Bly, James Hall, and Shaun Rogers, plus the draft failures of Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, and Mike Williams, plus the decline of Jon Kitna all created a perfect storm for 2008.

Firing Matt Millen was a good first step to right the situation, and then the Roy Williams' trade was a Texas-sized swindle.

Reina Value and FIC Rank

- Click here for information on the Reina Value and Field Impact Counter

(Rank at position, Season FIC, Reina Value)
Quarterbacks

- Dan Orlovsky (32nd, 320, +200%)

Orlovsky last saw the field in 2005 for 17 pass attempts, and in 2008 he was 143-for-255 with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. His passer rating of 72.6 was slightly better than Kitna and far better than Culpepper. Orlovsky was very good at Minnesota, notwithstanding the embarrassing safety, as well as the Houston loss. When he came back from a broken thumb against Indianapolis, Orlovsky went 23-for-34 with one touchdown, no interceptions, and a 96.8 passer rating. But he was an unmitigated disaster against New Orleans and then was barely tolerable in loss 16 against Green Bay.

- Jon Kitna (38th, 156, -62%)

Kitna didn't like it, but his Detroit career essentially ended with the firing of Matt Millen. He had a 72.2 rating in his four games, down from his 80.9 in 2007.

- Daunte Culpepepper (41st, 143, +875%)

Culpepper didn't step onto an NFL field until November and was unable to duplicate his play with Oakland a year ago, let alone his old Minnesota days. He was 60-for-115 with four TDs and six interceptions.

Running Backs

- Kevin Smith (18th, 520 [329, 191], +633%)

Smith, the 3rd round rookie out of Central Florida, rushed for 976 yards, an additional 286 in the air and eight touchdowns. He rushed for 4.1 yards per attempt and was the forgotten rookie in the class of Matt Forte, Steve Slaton and Chris Johnson. He would have easily rushed for 1,100+ yards if not for losing carries to Rudi Johnson.

- Rudi Johnson (77th, 119 [54, 65], -27%)

Johnson was unceremoniously disposed of by the Bengals and ended up with the Lions where he was greeted by the sticky fingers of Tatum Bell. As soon as Johnson made it onto the field, he had 76 carries for 237 yards. Beyond a nice performance against the 49ers, he was positively horrible.

Wide Receivers

- Calvin Johnson (5th, 846, +150%)

Johnson led the NFL with 12 touchdowns, which accounted for 42.9% of Detroit's 28 offensive TDs.

- Shaun McDonald (82nd, 214, -27%)

Without Mike Martz, McDonald went from a 58.9 yard per game receiver in 2007 to 27.7 in 2008. He ended the season on the IR with an ankle injury.

- Mike Furrey (99th, 118, -71%)

Furrey's season was cut short due to a concussion one game after his six catch, 89 yard game at Houston.

Tight Ends

- Michael Gaines (35th, 156, -39%)

Gaines came over from Buffalo and had a career high in yards with 260, though he did fumble three times. Thirteen of Gaines' 23 receptions were for first downs.

Defensive Summary

Not that the Lions were an offensive powerhouse, but it was really on defense in which they lost 16 games like they did. Detroit was 3.2 points per game worse than the Rams who were 31st in points allowed, while they gave up over 404.4 yards per game. The Steelers' defense, in comparison, were first in the NFL in yards allowed with 237.2 and 13.9 points.

The Lions' secondary had just one interception (Leigh Bodden), and Paris Lennon was the team's leading tackler, which clearly can't be good. Bodden came over in the Rogers' trade and is one of their most talented defensive players.

Dewayne White led the club with 6.5 sacks despite appearing in just eight games.

Biggest draft needs:

The Lions will get the first overall pick and the 20th (trade with Dallas). They will likely attempt and eventually fail to trade out of the top slot and would be wise to select Alabama's Andre Smith. Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford do not warrant being selected so high, and I will politely omit any Michael Crabtree remarks.

With the second first round pick they could look quarterback with Mark Sanchez or possibly linebacker with Rey Maualuga.

- Christopher Reina is the executive editor of RealGM