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The Lions only have themselves to blame for their 0-4 start

The Lions aren't executing on offense -- from Matthew Stafford to the offensive line, everybody is struggling.

The Detroit Lions ultimately lost Monday's game against the Seattle Seahawks due to a Calvin Johnson fumble and a missed call by the referees when K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the end zone, but the team is now 0-4 on the season and there are larger issues at play. The story of this individual game focuses on the blown call, but the story of the season should focus on a very talented offense that simply isn't getting the job done.

Matthew Stafford has been one of the more productive quarterbacks in the league since being drafted first overall in 2009. He's been in the top three in yardage total for quarterbacks in three of the last four years, and has never fallen out of the top 10 when he has played a full season. He's always had Johnson, one of the league's top receivers, to throw to, and that combination has been productive throughout its time in Detroit.

Stafford also has Golden Tate, who came into his own last year in his first season with the team, and a promising rookie running back in Ameer Abdullah. Add in a prolific receiving tight end like Eric Ebron, and the Lions really should be eating away at big chunks of yardage -- except, it's just not happening.

So, after finishing with an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs in 2014, why can't the Lions execute this season?

Predictable play calling

"We've got to figure it out because we're clearly giving it away," Tate said about the offense's predictability following a Week 3 loss to the Denver Broncos, via "All three weeks, a player's come up to me and said, 'We knew where you were going to.' That's bad."

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has done little to take advantage of the talent Detroit has on the roster. Stafford isn't throwing for nearly as many yards as usual and while the offensive line isn't giving him much time to throw, Johnson and Tate are still running longer routes that take time to develop. Lombardi's play calling doesn't seem to be taking those things into account

But even when the play call seems good, the Lions are have issues executing. Johnson's fumble was just one of many mistakes the team has made this season.

"We're hurting ourselves. No one in this league can match us or play against us unless we hurt ourselves," Ebron said prior to Monday's game, via the Detroit Free Press. "And we've been doing that for three straight weeks. So we'll get better at it."

They didn't get better at it on Monday. Stafford may have put the team in a position to win with that late drive, but that came on the back of two costly turnovers by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. The defense has stepped up at times this season, but the offense can't put a drive together.

Offensive line woes

Stafford wasn't sacked on Monday, the first game this season the opposing team has failed to record one against the Lions. But the offensive line is struggling -- Stafford has been under constant pressure and although Abdullah has flashed potential running the ball, he's not getting much help from the guys up front. Detroit is averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt rushing, dead last in the league. The Lions have rushed for 188 total rushing yards this season -- or a paltry 47 yards per game.

"We have to hold onto that belief that these guys are going to get stronger and stronger and stronger as they continue facing these guys," offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn said before the Seahawks game, via The Detroit News. "But, we've just got to stay committed to what we do and learn from our errors and just improve and get stronger, and we've got to do it quickly."

But the line did not show much improvement against Seattle. Abdullah carried the ball 13 times for 33 yards, while Zach Zenner had nine yards on two carries. Stafford, despite not getting sacked, also didn't have much time to get the ball to his weapons, either.

Their own worst enemy

Detroit's defense has actually played well for much of the season. When the offense does them so few favors, it's easy to allow the San Diego Chargers to put up 33 points or the Minnesota Vikings to put up 26 points. Even though the Lions are getting pressure and have been effective in killing opposing drives, teams have been able to break through eventually because Stafford and the offense can't get going.

Against the Seahawks, the defense had its best game yet, sacking Russell Wilson six times, forcing three turnovers and scoring a touchdown. But that wasn't enough to make up for the offense stalling and coughing the ball up on a potential game-winning drive.

The Lions are not a victim of circumstance, aside from that one play at the end of Monday's game. They are not dealing with debilitating injuries or a roster devoid of talent --  they're simply not executing and that's the real reason they're the only winless team in the NFL. That doesn't mean they're the worst team, and they still have time to pick up quality wins this year. But right now, the Lions only have themselves to blame for the current state of the team.