Allen Park — This was supposed to have been a typical NFL transition. Nothing beyond the Lions' reach.
They would replace center Dominic Raiola, who served nobly for 14 seasons but whose time for a less stressful life had arrived.
Riley Reiff would become more nimble and dynamic at left tackle in the fashion of first-round picks who at age 26 are obliged to shine.
Chances in 2015 for rookie Laken Tomlinson, or even Manny Ramirez, to make folks forget about the retired Rob Sims were considered high-percentage, if not an utter certainty.
And with Larry Warford and giant-sized Cornelius Lucas looking at least serviceable on the right side, the Lions hardly were expecting an 0-3 record, let alone this testament to a rancid 2015 running game:
■ The 32nd-ranked rushing offense in the NFL at 135 yards.
■ A per-rush average of 2.6 yards, which is tied with the Broncos for last place.
■ Last in rushing attempts, which clearly would not be the case if Joique Bell and even Ameer Abdullah were not running as if they needed machetes to chop holes in opposing defensive fronts.
"You know, there's nothing easy," Jim Caldwell said at Monday's new conference, and no NFL coach could have been more understated in talking about his team's most pained problem as the Lions get ready for a Monday night tussle against the Seahawks in Seattle.
"It's difficult, it's a battle. But just in terms of, 'I think we can get it done,' there's no question about that. I think we can be effective, but we have to be able to play more consistently well together."
Together, and individually.
Statistics from ProFootballFocus.com make clear how deeply in the mud are mired select members of Caldwell's offensive front.
■ Reiff is ranked 48th among all tackles in blocking efficiency. Lucas is 56th.
■ Ramirez has, in fact, been a general upgrade on Warford and is pegged 13th among guards. Warford, however, is 40th.
■ Travis Swanson, who was expected to reinvigorate life at center for the Lions, is ranked 26th.
Offensive lines, and linemen, often have their issues early in any season. Even next week's enemy, the mighty Seahawks, were bemoaning after two games why they weren't muscling defenses, a weakness that pretty much disappeared in a shutout of the Bears in Chicago.
The Lions, though, have run for 28 yards (Broncos), 38 yards (Vikings) and 69 yards (Chargers) in three unsettling defeats.
And it's not as if help looms elsewhere.
When it came time for Lucas to be hooked Sunday and replaced by LaAdrian Waddle, a starter gave way to the NFL's 66th-ranked tackle.
Tomlinson played left guard, as he had against the Chargers, after Warford's bad ankle felled him and Ramirez moved to right guard.
Tomlinson's guard ranking: 64th.
Caldwell, of course, mentioned the Lions running game isn't helped when a team is playing a stretch of catch-up football. But that wasn't the case through three quarters Sunday and a rushing blackout that approximated the running game's issues overall.
He was careful, too, making clear he isn't laying Detroit's ball-carrying grievances on five players.
"Often times," he said, "you'll find that it might not necessarily be an offensive-line thing.
"The blocking could've been a tight end. It could've been another back that made a difference. In this league, unlike maybe some other level, you leave one guy unblocked on the backside and that guy runs the play down.
"So, there are a lot of guys involved in that. And we have to get them all operating on the same page."
That would be helpful. But it brings also into focus those other areas and players.
Tight end? Brandon Pettigrew has been gone with a bad hamstring, which hasn't helped when Eric Ebron isn't his match in blocking artistry.
Running back? Joique Bell gets from ProFootballFocus a negative blocking ranking. It isn't only the interior sentries who have been betraying black-and-blue quarterback Matthew Stafford.
And so fundamental problems with a win-loss record probably begin with fundamental issues at football's most basic thoroughfare: straight-ahead blocking and running.
The Lions could have picked better places than Seattle, and against more forgiving teams than the Seahawks, to turn things around. But that's a thought, like too many Lions rushing attempts, that goes for no gain.
Last and least
Here are the bottom six teams in the NFL in total rushing yards:
27. Baltimore, 0-3 record, 218 yards, 3.2 yards per carry
27. Miami, 1-2, 218, 4.0
29. St. Louis, 1-2, 214, 3.8
30. Philadelphia, 1-2,193, 2.6
31. Denver, 3-0,171, 2.6
32. Detroit, 0-3,135, 2.6
Ameer Abdullah, 21 carries, 82 yards, 3.9 yards per carry
Joique Bell, 20, 22, 1.1
Zach Zenner, 2, 6, 3.0
Theo Riddick, 1, 5, 5.0
Michael Burton, 1, 2, 2.0