After the Lions lost to the Broncos, 24-12, Sunday night, Denver cornerback Bradley Roby said his team knew what the Lions offense was running.
According to Lions wide receiver Golden Tate, Roby isn’t the only player to make that comment this season.
“That’s not the first time this year that another player has said that,” Tate said Tuesday on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM. “I’ve had a couple occasions — in literally each game — where they called out our play, for one, and then afterwards, been like, ‘Hey, we knew what you guys were doing.’
“I don’t know how they know or what film they’re watching that we’re giving away, and that’s something we need to go back and watch our tendencies to figure out where we line up or how we line up or what formations. Whatever it may be, we’ve got to figure it out because we’re clearly giving away if all three weeks a player’s come up to me and said, ‘We knew what you’re going to do.’ That’s bad.”
The Lions offense has struggled mightily during a 0-3 start this season. The team ranks 27th in total offense, tied for 23rd in scoring and 32nd in rushing.
Roby had an interception in the first quarter in which he ditched the man he was supposed to be covering, Lions receiver Lance Moore, to step in front of a throw to Tate.
“We pretty much knew what they were going to do, and they did it,” he told The Detroit News.
On Monday, Broncos safety David Bruton Jr., who had an interception in the fourth quarter, said something similar to reporters in Denver.
“They were in a formation that we knew what was coming,” Bruton said in a video posted on the Broncos’ website. “When the back chipped, I knew what was coming with the dig behind me. So, it just gave me a chance to play visual on (Lions quarterback Matthew) Stafford and get my hand on the ball.”
Bruton stepped in front of a pass to Calvin Johnson and tipped the ball to himself for the pick. It was a devastating play as the Lions trailed 17-12 and had reached the Denver 48 with less than 4 minutes remaining. The Broncos turned Stafford’s third turnover into the game-sealing touchdown.
Stafford denied that the Lions’ offense has been predictable so far, noting that Roby’s interception came on a play the team had yet to run this year.
During the radio interview Tate didn’t mention play-calling by offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi as the Lions’ biggest problem, instead listing penalties, poor pass blocking and turnovers. However, he said the Lions need to start doing something different than what they’ve done so far.
“We need to figure it out because we have too much talent for this to be happening to us,” Tate said. “You look at who we have on our team and the type of preseason we had, you’re like, ‘Darn, how are these guys 0-3?’
“It doesn’t even make sense.”
Tate, though, again referenced the miscues and offensive line struggles as issues that won’t help the Lions showcase their offensive talent. He also said he plans to meet with Stafford to discuss the players taking more ownership of the offense and that it’s partly on the quarterback to take the reins when things aren’t working.
“At some point as a quarterback, this is your offense, this is really your team and you kind of got to take it over,” he said. “In the game, in the heat of the battle, you’re the guy that’s got to make that key call and make that key throw or really make that game-winning play. But at the same extent, you still got to stay within the offense and that’s when Coach Lombardi comes in and the quarterback coaches and those guys. You’ve got to find a happy medium.”
So far, the Lions have been unable to find that medium, and although the defense showed improvement in Week 3, it has yet to show that it’s capable of carrying the offense as it did in 2014. Like many players, Tate is not panicking after the 0-3 start.
“I love this team,” he said. “I think we have endless amounts of talent. We shouldn’t be in this position, and we are going to change it. We will change it some way or another.”