NEW SEASON, SAME LIONS?
The Detroit Lions opened basically as a pick em (-2.5) over the Bears on Sunday. The spread was a perfect indicator of how this game would go. Both teams came in with significant question marks and neither had a clear advantage. The Bears had the Achilles heel of Mitch Trubisky and the lions well had the Achilles heel of.. just about everything else. The Lions had some bright spots on the day, and of course some things that would need to be cleaned up before they face an Aaron Rodgers team that looked like it turned the clock back 10 years.
Speaking of turning back the clock, Adrian Peterson must have found the fountain of youth at one of the Great Lakes before 1 PM on Sunday. AP looked like he hadn’t lost a step, and what seemed like couldn’t lose a yard. AP lead the team with 14 rushes for 93 yards, and displayed a veteran presence to a young, inexperienced running back group. Danny Amendola also had a moment of resurgence, he snagged 5 balls for 81 yards. With Kenny Golladay a late scratch, Danny Amendola became a reliable option for Stafford out of the slot. Last year’s first round pick TJ Hockenson also established himself as a reliable option for Stafford, catching 5 balls for 56 yards and a score. Lions fans are hoping TJ can be what Ebron could not, and that is a true security blanket for Stafford. The offense – without Kenny G – looked balanced against a dominant Bears defense that ranked 4th in the NFL in points and 10th in yards allowed. They established the run early which led to more play action opportunities.
In a game this violent, next man up is not hope but is a mentality. Unfortunately for the Lions on Sunday, they almost ran out of men to be up. Top receiver Kenny Golladay, and #3 overall pick Jeff Okudah, Tight End Hunter Bryant, and Safety CJ Moore were ruled out prior to Sundays game. During the game, the secondary took another blow, losing Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman. Coleman’s replacement Amani Oruwariye followed Allen Robinson and held his own for the most part. The same could not be said for Tony McRae, who did all he could, but was on the wrong end of the game-winning touchdown. With a match-up looming next week against Aaron Rodgers and company, the Lions need to either scour for more depth or hope these hamstring injuries can be relieved in time.
In my last article, I noted that this team lacks the experience and winning culture to capitalize on the youth and talent that they have on paper. Interestingly enough, in 2019 the Lions won only 3 out of 11 games when they were up or tied in the 4th quarter. To address the elephant in the room, it was not D’Andre Swift’s drop in the end zone that cost the Lions a win. It was a combination of questionable and conservative play-calling late, costly turnovers, defensive miscues, and mental errors that ultimately did them in. The Lions gave up 24 points in 15 minutes due to a constant 3-man rush, a prevent defense and no in-game adjustments. On offense, Stafford made some bad decisions by taking a bad sack and throwing a worse interception. On the bright side, injuries will heal, chemistry will continue to be built, and – looking at the big picture – divisions are not won in the first week. Up next is another division opponent and a chance to right this week’s wrongs.