Well, the Lions got off to a not so hot start to the season with a bad loss against the Jets. On first glance it looked really bad, but after watching the game again I’m cautiously optimistic. Here’s some of the trends I picked up on and my thoughts. (Note: the following game recap blogs will be up much earlier than this one).
To start the game the offense just didn’t look on the same page. Thinking back to last year, this is kind of an annoying reoccurring theme. The offense can’t get anything going, they fall into tendencies, they end up trying to come back after playing less than well.
In the first quarter Matthew couldn’t connect with the receivers, the offensive line wasn’t getting a push and the offense ended up in too many third down situations where they were forced into trying to make a play, which ended up in some mistakes happening.
And again, at the end of the first half the issue of scoring in the red zone popped up.
In the end, I’m not overly concerned with the offense. There are too many weapons for the unit to fail. I would say that I think JBC needs to be more aggressive to start the game. We’ve got some playmakers, let’s just go for it. And also, the offensive line needs to get better at some things…
A lot of what the offense struggled with falls on the offensive line. We have to remember that this was the first game all these guys were together. We also have to remember we have a rookie starting. That being said, the performance wasn’t acceptable.
If this team is going to be able to run the ball better than the past (and being better than the worst team in the league shouldn’t be hard to do) then the offensive line needs to push some people around. They didn’t get off the ball well at all and New York was able to beat them at the line, causing pressure in both the run and pass game.
Communication has to be better. It will get better with time, but when Matthew Stafford is getting hit like he did last week, there isn’t much time to waste.
As I said, I’m confident in the offense and the players we have, and that includes the lineman. They just need to get better as a group. If they don’t get better quickly though, we could be in for some trouble. If they can’t patch things up, there are some scheme things the Lions can do, but we will have to wait and see about that.
I think the defense played pretty decent Monday. A couple things they need to do better, and it’s no surprise: pressure up front and tackling.
Most of the time Sam Darnold had all day to throw. I think the defense will get better in the new system every week, but we need Ziggy to be huge. Other guys like Kennard, Kerry Hyder, and Jean-Ricky Francois need to get a push up front. I think the LBs did a fine job of filling gaps. I feel like everyone did a good enough job of getting to the ball, but we need to hit better and wrap up at the point of contact.
I think the defense played well in zone. I’m not really worried about our defensive backs at all. That being said, guys like Glover Quin, Quandre Diggs and Tavon Wilson may have to step up in coverage to help against tight ends.
Another thing I saw was a lot of communication going on, sometimes it looked like guys might be a little out of place or unsure of what exact assignments were.
I may be overly optimistic, but I honestly think we can be okay on defense. We just have to remember what we’re working with: a not great pass rush and a brand new defense with a lot of new faces.
Just overall, this team is a work in progress. Things have to change if we don’t want to go 9-7 again.
Kenny Golladay was amazing. He was Matthew’s favored target and security blanket in that first half. And the forced fumble was huge. Kenny will keep getting better, and that’s a scary thought for opposing defenses. Look for him to keep getting increased targets. Depending on matchups each week, he could be the go-to guy as he was on Monday.
Kerryon Johnson provided some energy when he came into the game. His first drive he touched the ball a lot, and he showed why. He really should be getting more touches each week as he adjusts to the game because he looked good in limited action. He gives us a legit running backs core, and embodies the best out of Blount and Theo. He’s really the running back we’ve always wanted, so if we can give him some space to run into, we will be much better off.
Obviously Quandre Diggs had a great game. The pick on the first play was a huge spark. If you watch him each play, it’s clear he is a leader and everyone is looking to him. He always makes the tackle and covers well.
Golden Tate: Unfortunately, it seemed like Golden got lost in the shuffle a little bit at points early. He still was able to show why he’s special when he got the ball. If the Lions were to script their plays to open a game, I would make sure Golden had a few touches mixed in because he can be very pivotal to the offense’s success.
Marvin Jones: He didn’t have a bad game. He just didn’t have the great game with big catches we’re accustomed to (not that the ones he missed were easy by any means). With the spoil of riches at WR it can be hard for the ball to get spread around, but I think Marvin will get his next week. I know he’ll bounce back.
Special Teams: The special teams were not good, obviously. Matt Prater missed a 56 yarder and Sam Martin and the punt unit gave up a touchdown. The Lions released one special teamer and worked out more punters so the writing is on the wall: if you don’t do your job better, you’ll get replaced.
Matthew Stafford: This was the worst game I can remember Matthew playing. He had no passing yards in the first quarter for the first time in his career. He threw picks, a couple of which he forced, a couple of which he just had to get rid of the ball. He got banged up. It looked like he and the other skill players weren’t on the same page. It wasn’t a good night for him, but I’m confident he will be much better this week, especially if the offensive line plays a little better.
I may be too much of a fan, but I’m still optimistic for the season. I feel like there are little things that each position group has to get better at, and we can be fine. As I said earlier though, this is all a work in progress. We’re gonna have to go through some things and be tested to get better.
What did you think of Week One? Do you expect the Lions to play better against the 49ers? Do you expect a win or loss? Let me know!