Pat Caputo: Lions Turn Dagger Time Into Stagger Time


It was right there for the taking. The 1-0 start. The talk of Matthew Stafford for MVP.

D’Andre Swift could have been the hero.

But these are the Lions, and if their collapsing defeat to the Chicago Bears Sunday displayed anything of note, it’s that nothing much has changed.

The Lions had a big lead. The town was feeling really good about Stafford.

Then came a profoundly significant turnover.

Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky was awful most of the game. Yet, when it mattered, he might as well have been a combination of Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. You know, like Sam Darnold and Kyler Murray in the 2018 and 2019 openers.

Stafford? It was just the opposite. He was really good until it mattered. Then…

On third and five, Stafford felt compelled to throw a pass into coverage, allowing the Bears to come back after Kyle Fuller intercepted.

You’d think in his 12th year, Stafford would take care of the ball, particularly with the lead late in a game. He did rally the Lions. If Swift catches that pass, there is a totally different narrative about Stafford.

It was an outstanding toss to Swift after a 32-yard catch-and-run by Danny Amendola. Still, such drama wouldn’t have been necessary if Stafford didn’t throw the pick.

Hey, but Stafford had good numbers. He threw for nearly 300 yards (297). Yeah, but in the process, he also displayed why he isn’t among the top tier of NFL QBs.

All the talk about Stafford being the best QB in the NFC North must cease now. Aaron Rodgers threw for 364 yards and four TDs (no interceptions) as the Packers destroyed the Vikings on the road Sunday. Stafford is 9-15-1 in his last 25 NFL starts. Ah, Green Bay was 13-3 and won a playoff game in 2019.

What do you think Rodgers might do vs. the Lions’ defense in Week 2 at Lambeau?

The 2020 NFL Draft didn’t help the Lions much Sunday. Jeff Okudah didn’t play. Swift had his moment Lions’ fans have seen from others way too many times -- after they were decidedly excited he was drafted.

Perhaps the Lions’ defense would have performed better late in the game if Jamie Collins were on the field. It’s stunning a veteran player would make contact with an official -- with a head-butt yet -- and even risk getting thrown out of a game. It was incredibly Lion-like.

It doesn’t bode well, obviously, for Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia. Good coaches field teams that find a way to win. Under Patricia, the Lions instead come up with frustratingly creative ways to lose.

And it wasn’t like general manager Bob Quinn’s roster moves flashed brilliance Sunday.

The Lions have presented the same things for a dozen years with Stafford at QB. He leads you on and lets you down.

It has not changed during the stints of Quinn and Patricia. If anything, it’s only more pronounced.

Stafford talked about 'Dagger Time' with his teammates. Well, that was 'Stagger Time' Sunday.

The Lions left this town falling all over itself with disappointment -- again.