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Coach Killers, Week 16: Lions might be sorriest team in football

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com


Matthew Stafford and the Lions again find themselves out of the playoffs. (USATSI)

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. Questions, comments, casserole ideas? Hit us up on Twitter at @ryanwilson_07.

The Lions organization

The title at the top of this post might be a slight exaggeration, but calling the Lions the sorriest team in football is a lot closer to the truth than suggesting they're capable of a deep playoff run. There is no believable explanation for how this team could start 6-3 only to drop five of six down the stretch. Last week, we called out quarterback Matthew Stafford in this space for his carelessness and poor decision making.

He threw another late-game interception (this was a score-tying pick-six with five minutes to go) in Sunday's inexplicable loss to a hapless Giants outfit. And while the blame lay with tight end Josesph Fauria, who had the ball go through his hands, the broader issue is why this team is so mistake-prone, so undisciplined, so ... well, bad.

Some not-so-fun facts:

* For the sixth consecutive game, the Lions have committed at least two turnovers. And for the sixth consecutive game, the Lions have lost the turnover battle.

* Reggie Bush has fumbled twice since promising his fumblin' ways were over following a Week 10 loss to Pittsburgh.

* Stafford has thrown at least two interceptions in four of the past five games.

* Last Sunday morning, prior to the Week 15 slate of games, the Lions sat atop the NFC North. After a debilitating loss to the Ravens on Monday night, they headed into Week 16 on the outside looking in, but with a very real chance to make the playoffs. And with the Bears and Packers both losing Sunday, all Detroit had to do was find a way to win at home against the five-win Giants.

Didn't happen.

Understandably, the Ford Field crowd took it out on the underachieving home team.

"I was disappointed to hear boos," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We're getting ready to go to overtime right there and our crowd is great for us and they support us."

If this were Week 1, fine, Schwartz has a point. But it's Week 16, six days after the Lions laid over for the Ravens. Fans are frustrated.

"The team needed a lift right there," Schwartz continued. "We didn't need to feel bad at that point. We just intercepted a ball that got us to overtime. I thought that I was just trying to get our team ready. That's tough, the situations when your players are getting booed and you want them fired up. That's what I was trying to do right there."

Schwartz sounds a lot like Stafford's girlfriend, Kelly Hall, who took to Twitter to defend the team.

So here we are. And Schwartz, who did take the Lions to the playoffs in 2011 but has led back-to-back disappointing campaigns in 2012 and 2013, could very well lose his job in the coming days.

Whomever's running things next season, Stafford needs a quarterbacks coach who stresses fundamentals and decision making, abhors sidearm throws, and gets the most out of Stafford's big-time arm. Because as it stands, Stafford's a poor man's Tony Romo.

We're not joking.

It's easy to take shots at Romo for his occasional late-game struggles, but is there anybody on the planet who, with a big game on the line, would rather have Stafford?

Redskins defense

The Redskins' futility was on full display during their latest loss. (USATSI)
Only the Redskins could make a game-defining stand on third and goal only to have the Cowboys and Tony Romo come back on fourth down and score the decisive touchdown. Any other team, and Romo throws a pick-six at worst, a garden-variety interception at best.

But these are the Redskins. The head coach may or may not want to be there, the offensive coordinator (who happens to be the head coach's son) thinks people are too dumb to understand what they're trying to accomplish, the franchise quarterback has been benched, and the defense is among the worst in the league.

Also not helping: FedEx Field is a goat track, which probably had something to do with Robert Griffin III's knee injury last January and clearly had everything to do with Terrance Williams finding himself wide open on that final drive after cornerback Josh Wilson fell down.

The result: A 51-yard gain that set up the inevitable Redskins implosion as time expired. Hanging onto a 23-17 lead, Washington twice stuffed Dallas from inside the five-yard line. That set up this third-down play:

Awful decision by DeMarco Murray. Fantastic play by Perry Riley. And that, led to this:

This time, Murray made up for his previous mistake while Riley (who can be seen standing helplessly at the three-yard line when Murray hauls in the pass) somehow loses track of Murray.

Nose tackle Barry Cofield summed things up perfectly after the game.

“You're always trying to seize the momentum,” he said. “We felt we had it, but it can change quickly and obviously it did. That's been the story of the season. A lot of times the negativity has spiraled out of control and we've had a tendency to let negative momentum drag us down as opposed to building on positive momentum. That's why we are where we are.”

Washington will enter the offseason with plenty of questions, chief among them: What to do with coach Mike Shanahan. If Snyder fires him, Shanny will collect the $7 million remaining on his contract. If Snyder keeps him, there's no reason to think the team won't continue to be an underachieving laughingstock.

And it's not like the draft will be of much help. If Washington loses Sunday and finishes 3-13, and Houston wins to move to 3-13, the Redskins would likely have the No. 1 pick ... which would go to the Rams thanks to the 2012 trade that allowed Washington to draft Robert Griffin III.

Put another way: Things are going to get worse before they get better.

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