Detroit Lions' 2020 Season - Quarter by Quarter
As usual, this season has been a tough watch for Lions fans. That usual optimism that ensues post-draft builds up through OTAs, training camp, pre-season and into week 1. Soon enough it’s shot down, hit hard and vanishes.
A lot of different theories as to what directly went wrong have been put forward by a variety of fans. Most of which fall at the feet of former Head Coach Matt Patricia, and former General Manager Bob Quinn who were both fired 2 days after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Texans.
There’s the notion that the Lions have had a specific point in a game where they would throw it all away and that point would be consistent throughout the season. Those points have been:
The Lions start well and drop throughout the game.
The Lions start well and make a resurgence in the 4th when the game has run away from us.
The Lions cannot make the half-time adjustments needed to win the game.
Now, watching every game this year, I would say that there’s some truth to all of those statements. However, is that truth represented by the statistics? I know that stats can be misleading but surely if there’s a legitimate point in games where the Lions ‘fall off’ then it would be represented by statistics.
When going through the stats - I haven’t gone through play-by-play, counting drives, how many plays and yards have been accumulated. I’m going by the scores. Whether we win, lose or tie a quarter. So the depth might not be incredible but I do believe it goes some way to explaining whether these statements are true.
1 - will we see a decline from the 1st to 4th?
2 - will there be a clear difference between the 2nd/3rd compared to the 1st & 4th?
3 - will there be a decline in the 2nd half?
This may seem trivial, or initially not very important in terms of the fact that the results are the results and the performances are the performances. Yet, I do also think that it can go some way to dissecting where things went wrong this season. Why did events unfold as they did? We all know that Patricia was a huge believer in conditioning and often worked players hard. Could this go some way to explaining why players were declining throughout the game as they were ‘too tired’ or ‘worked too hard’ throughout the week and unable to keep up in games? Was Patricia really unable to make adjustments at the half in order to win the game and see it through? This may help in seeing what the Lions need to look for in their HC search.
What does each quarter look like alone?
Points (for-against): 95-109
Point difference: -14
W-L-T record: 6-8-2
Shutouts (Lions-Opp): 3-2
This is the closest quarter for the Lions. Despite the notion earlier in the year that the Lions come out firing, this is the 3rd best scoring quarter. They have only scored more than 7 points in the 1st on 2 occasions - Packers in week 2, and Saints in week 4. However, the Lions failed to score a TD in 5 of the 16 1st quarters, 3 of which were shutouts. The first is also the Lions’ 2nd best quarter defensively, in terms of points allowed, shutting out opponents twice and on 3 separate occasions, holding teams to a FG. The defensive stats are eerily similar to the offensive stats, though opponents have managed double-digit scores in the first quarter 4 times. After week 10, the Lions were 6-2-1 in the first quarter, losing the 1st 6 times and tying once since.
Points (for-against)t: 96-161
Point difference: -65
W-L-T record: 5-9-2
Shutouts (Lions-Opp): 5-3
Despite the quarter record being 1 loss different, the second quarter has seen the Lions blown away by the opposition. The offence has scored 1 point more than in the first, yet has given up 52 points more across the 16 games. On 6 occasions, the offence has scored double-digit points in the 2nd, though only 1 of those included 2 TDs (Cardinals in week 3), 5 were 1TD and 1FG and on 5 occasions were completely shutout. The defence gave up double-digit points 9 times in the 2nd though they did manage 3 shutouts in games where they gave up 9pts or less and on 3 occasions (Saints week 4, Colts week 8 and Buccs week 16) gave up at least 20pts. When they win the quarter, they win by a little, but when they lose then they lose by a LOT. In similar fashion to the first quarter, they haven’t won it since week 10, losing 5 and tying the quarter twice.
Points (for-against)t: 77-98
Point difference: -21
W-L-T record: 5-6-4
Shutouts (Lions-Opp): 4-4
The dreaded 3rd quarter has been low scoring across the league throughout the season. It’s both the Lions’ lowest-scoring AND lowest-conceding. The offence only managed to accumulate double-digit points on 2 occasions (Bears week 1 & Vikings week 17) being shutout 4 times. The defence allowed double-digit points on 4 separate occasions, shutting out opponents 4 times. The Lions have won the quarter 3 times since week 9 with a record of 3-3-1. Under Patricia, the Lions were 3-4-4 in the 3rd.
Points (for-against)t: 100-151
Point difference: -42
W-L-T record: 6-7-2
Shutouts (Lions-Opp): 3-2
The 4th is both the Lions’ highest-scoring but also highest-conceding. With the offence managing 5 double-digit quarters in the season but also being shutout 3 times. The defence has given up 6 double-digit quarters with 2 shutouts and 2 quarters with 20+ points. The record is similar to the 1st with 1 more tie and a record of 1-3-3 since week 10.
Points (for-against)t: 377-519
Point difference: -142
W-L-T record: 5-11-0
Shutouts (Lions-Opp): 15-11
Looking at those stats, each quarter portrays a different story and generally places truth into the 3 points made by fans.
End the game @ the quarter
If you stop the game at the end of each quarter, the record looks like this.
Point Differential: -14
Point Differential: -79
Point Differential: -100
Point Differential: -142
Do the Lions start well and fall off?
We’ve seen the stats for the individual quarters, and though the first quarter is the tightest of all 4, it’s also the Lions’ 3rd worst offensively and 2nd best defensively. The 2nd has seen us score 1 more point, but give up a lot more, the third is our best defensively but also worst offensively, and the 4th is just a shootout. Each 4 of the quarters provide slightly different qualities and downfalls. The notion they start well and fall throughout, to me, suggests one of 2 things - energy levels decrease or oppositions react better to us more throughout. With those 2 in mind, when HT is a much-needed rest and chance for tactical changes - do the Lions start the halves better and fade. If so, we should be able to see a clear decline from the 1st and 3rd compared to the 2nd and 4th. Let’s see:
1st & 3rd:
Point Differential: -35
2nd & 4th:
Point Differential: -107
Ok - so, that’s some difference there. Both the record and point differential point to a clear, clear issue with the Lions. As previously mentioned, this could be due to the conditioning of players and declines in performance or it could be due to oppositions seemingly altering and scheming against us. Whatever the reasoning - it’s a serious cause for concern and the game is definitely being lost in those quarters.
Is there any truth to the statement?: Yes. There’s clear evidence within the information that the Lions see a gradual decline in games. Particularly in the halves.
Do the Lions pick back up in the 4th?
Though I vehemently despise the term, I’m going to allow myself to use it. Do the Lions come back into the game in ‘garbage time’? Are the Lions far out of the game by the 4th quarter that they pick it up and make a resurgence through the 4th? This is also added into the equation of the Lions starting well. So, if the Lions start well, and end well, but lose the games, are the 2nd & 3rd quarters out of the Lions’ reach to the point that the 1st and 4th cannot save the result?
1st & 4th
Point Differential: -56
2nd & 3rd
Point Differential: -86
Results-wise, the 2nd and 3rd aren’t exactly dragging the 1st & 4th down, though the point differential of 30 between them is somewhat alarming. Not to the extent of the previous but there’s clearly some difference between the middle 2 and the start & finish to a game.
Is there any truth to the statement: Yes. I believe there is. Though the difference may not be game-changing or season-defining, the evidence suggests that the middle of the game is poor for the Lions.
Is there a Quarter that changes everything?
Now, we’ve some combinations of 2 quarters at once and comparisons to the alternative, I think it’s only right we look at the whole game and remove 1 quarter to see if anything changes the outcome. Though partnered together, there can be clear differences, is there any 1 quarter alone that is game-changing in terms of the results.
Point Differential: -142
1st, 2nd & 3rd
Point Differential: -100
1st, 2nd & 4th
Point Differential: -121
1st, 3rd & 4th
Point Differential: -77
2nd, 3rd & 4th
Point Differential: -128
All, bar one of those records is worse than our season record across all 4 quarters. That one record is also the only one without a triple-digit deficit. The 1st, 3rd and 4th, whilst not improving our overall record by anything more than a tie instead of a loss, is still our best option out of those.
Do the Lions struggle to make HT adjustments?
If the statement “The Lions cannot make the half-time adjustments needed to win the game” rings true then as a whole, the 2nd half should show far worse stats compared to the first. So let’s have a look:
Point Differential: -84
Point Differential: -63
The only major difference here is the point differential with the only difference in the record being that there’s no second-half tie (1 more win). The Lions are both 21 points worse off in the first half and a tie worse off. Though actual the product on the field may look different, it seems to me that as a whole the 2nd half is marginally better than the first. This may be (in part) due to the 3rd quarter league-wide lul, but the Lions are not being blown away as we have thought. Particularly in comparison to the first half. Given that the notion is that the Lions do well in the first half and get beaten in the second, I don’t believe that the HT adjustments have provided much difference to the outcome of the game.
Is there any truth to the statement?: not with the stats, no. However, as previously stated, there may be some disparity in the on-field product - but as far as the score goes it’s not backed up.
I believe that there’s room for argument and debate for each of the statements. Each one has been validated in one way or another, yet has also been invalidated in other ways.
Though looking through, there’s one specific quarter that was consistently showing in the more negative stats compared to others (though most stats were negative) and removing the quarter gave the Lions a slightly better advantage in comparison. That was the 2nd quarter. Despite having 1 point more than the 1st, it was a clear worst defensively and saw the Lions give up 3 TDs on 3 separate occasions and fail to score on 5 separate occasions. The 2nd quarter appears to be where the Lions have lost games a lot more than any other.
This plays more into the category of either, declining in the middle of the game or declining throughout the halves. Defensively, these statements are backed up, but offensively, not so much. My thoughts are that the defensive clearly declines in the 2nd and 4th quarters, whether that be due to sustained drives on defence and quick, short drives (even when scoring on offence), or starting way too quickly and simply burning out early on. The offence clearly starts well and finishes well.
Other notable quarter by quarter stats
Shutouts as a whole (Lions-Opponents): 15-11. That’s 3 and ¾ games without a score vs. 2 and ¾.
The most points the offence scored in any given quarter was 14 (4 times).
The most points the defence gave up in any given quarter was 22 (1 time).
The defence also gave up 20+ points in a quarter 6 times.
The Lions scored 13/14 points (2 TDs) in 5 different quarters.
The Lions scored 10+ points in a quarter 14 times.
This is a very general look at the points scored in quarters. Things like: how each individual drive pans out, how many first downs per quarter, yardage gained, penalties etc. aren’t factored in, however all play a part in analysing and breaking down what exactly went wrong and why.
Is there any particular point in a game where you believe the Lions lose the game? Do you believe it’s the second quarter or do you believe it’s the second half etc?
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