02/11/2015 04:52 GMT | Updated 01/11/2016 05:12 GMT

Five Takeaways From Lions-Chiefs at Wembley

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Detroit Lions at Wembley on Sunday. The score was 45-10. That's it. There's no way to make it sound more exciting. The last game of this year's slate of Wembley games, this was a mediocre finish to what's actually been a decent bunch of games...

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Detroit Lions at Wembley on Sunday. The score was 45-10.

That's it. There's no way to make it sound more exciting.

The Lions were down early and offered no fight. Kansas City, as they're built to do, controlled the ball and clock the entire game, while stifling the Lions' mediocre offense.

The last game of this year's slate of Wembley games, this was a mediocre finish to what's actually been a decent bunch of games. To butcher TS Eliot, this is the way the 2015 International Series ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Here's a few key takeaways.


Detroit fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi after last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings. His replacement, Jim Bob Cooter, fared no better in his debut. And yeah, you did read that right. Jim. Bob. Cooter. If this offense was 10% as good as Cooter's name, the Lions might be up to something. No such luck.

The Lions' porous offensive line was unable to block the likes of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, while blitzing linebackers and defensive backs glided past untouched pretty much all day long. He played poorly, but quarterback Matthew Stafford very often had no time to manufacture gains in the passing game. The former first overall pick has been bad this year, but there's no way it's all on him.

Detroit committed to the run early on in a valiant effort to ease the pressure on Stafford, but picks on consecutive second quarter drives led to an early lead for Kansas City and an early abandonment of the ground game. With no running threat the Chiefs' pass rush was able to pin its ears back and wreak havoc in the backfield.

It just never felt like the offense had it in them to repeat last year's incredible second half comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. It's hard to see exactly what Cooter has changed in his week in charge, but with the bye week coming up, he has a fortnight to make some much-needed big changes.


Andy Reid's an excellent coach, one of the best of his time. Brilliantly successful in his dozen years in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid's again made a lot of great moves in his rebuild in Kansas City.

Yet, in the middle of a tumultuous and as-yet disappointing season, speculation has begun to fester over Reid's future, and that of general manager John Dorsey. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, however, has endorsed the pair, confirming that they'd be back in 2016 no matter what. It's the right move.

The defense, led by the likes of Houston, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry has talent at every level. Reid and Dorsey have proved they can accumulate talent on that side of the ball, and coordinator Bob Sutton's doing a fine job getting the best out of his players.

Reid's offense, though, is the worry. There's talent - running back Jamaal Charles will hopefully rebound from a knee injury, Jeremy Maclin is legit, and tight end Travis Kelce is an eater of worlds - but quarterback Alex Smith has limitations. At this point, ten years into his career, he is who he is. It's hard to see how he'll ever take the Chiefs on a deep playoff run.

Andy Reid took five trips to the NFC Championship Game with Philadelphia. He's proven he can do that with the right talent. He might just need a new QB.


Only nine months ago the Lions were one dodgy penalty away from beating the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. On Sunday, they looked a far cry from a playoff-worthy team. Hell, they looked like the worst team in the league.

It's astounding how far this team has dropped off across the board. The defense, impervious at times under Teryl Austin last season, provided little resistance against Kansas City at Wembley. Losing the best defensive tackle in the game in Ndamukong Suh has of course hurt, but the losses of Nick Fairley and CJ Mosley have done serious damage too. Star linebacker DeAndre Levy is hobbled and the secondary is playing badly - safety James Ihedigbo got skinned by a scrambling Alex Smith for crying out loud.

Combine a struggling defense with the painfully malfunctioning offense and it's tough to see the Lions have anything close to a positive year at this point.


For a generational talent at his position, Calvin Johnson's career arc is just sad. The guy's seen a lot of suffering in his eight-year Detroit career: The Lions have a 48-169 record since drafting him second overall in 2007, only two seasons with a winning record, no playoff wins... oh yeah, and that awful 0-16 season.

Fellow Hall of Fame calibre receivers Andre Johnson and Steve Smith were moved to contenders late in their career, and with Detroit looking on the verge of another major overhaul perhaps now's the time to do the same for Johnson.

The 30-year-old's contract, however, could prove prohibitive - he carries a gigantic $20million salary cap hit this year and next, simply too much for a good team to bear. But let's imagine there's a way to overcome that, can you imagine Megatron on the New England Patriots? In San Diego with Philip Rivers' downfield passing ability? In Dallas alongside Dez Bryant? Calvin's given so much for this franchise, he deserves a chance to have a genuinely happy ending to his career. It doesn't look like that will happen in Detroit.


Which leads to the big question mark for Detroit - its quarterback. Matthew Stafford is by no means a bad player, but he is incredibly frustrating to watch. Few are blessed with his physical talent, even fewer make unforced errors so consistently and live to tell the tale.

The two International Series games he has played are perfect examples. Last year, Stafford rebounded from a bad first half to lead an improbable comeback against the lowly Atlanta Falcons. In that game his performance in the first and second halves was night and day.

Throughout his career Stafford has been a highly productive player, but his inconsistency means Detroit's future is entirely on him. This team just isn't constructed to win unless Stafford plays sublimely.

Like the Chiefs and Alex Smith, it might be that this is all Stafford will ever be, and that if Detroit wants to reach that elusive first Super Bowl, they need to blow up the team and jettison Stafford.