The Lions (0-1) were taken to the woodshed on national television when the Jets (1-0) came into Ford Field and thrashed Detroit, 48-17, on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
With rumors coming out about the players disliking Patricia’s style, along with general doubt from losing a game at home so badly to a rookie quarterback, fans are in a state of slight panic.
But in the NFL, you can never overreact to one game, no matter how pathetically terrible it may have been (and it was). The Lions have had little time to dwell as they flew across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) Sunday afternoon.
Jimmy Garoppolo and the Kyle Shannahan led 49ers had a rough opener, losing to the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams had high hopes coming into the year and the pressure of a second loss to start the season is something neither team is likely to recover from in a loaded NFC.
With that in mind, I’ve given you four keys to a Lions victory in San Francisco to get back to a .500 record.
1). More balanced attack
Stafford threw four interceptions last week, which were largely on him but the team didn’t help him out much either. The offense was too predictable, many times tipping their play with the personnel packages they came out in. It goes without saying that Jim Bob Cooter needs to mix things up a bit. Running it more will help, but overall Cooter needs to push the pace. The Lions have to utilize their dual-threat receiving backs (mainly Kerryon Johnson) because Stafford is better in an up-tempo offense.
2). Put the game on Garoppolo
This key could have easily been called stop the run, but if you can’t stop the run, you’re not going to win many NFL games. So with that being a given, the Lions have to put the game on Jimmy G’s shoulders after he struggled mightily against the Vikings last week. He’s definitely capable of getting hot against the Lions’ hot mess of a front-seven. If Detroit can stop San Francisco’s run game, though, and keep the ball in Jimmy G’s hands, it’s their best chance of winning.
3). Give Kerryon Johnson the ball
I already mentioned incorporating more of the run game with key number one. However, another point that needs to be focused on is giving the ball to rookie running back Kerryon Johnson. Between Blount, Johnson and Riddick, the rookie out of Auburn was the most effective all-around in Week 1. He caught all three of his passes and with Blount banged up, there’s all the more reason to give the ball to No. 33. Johnson needs more touches!
4). Special Teams Matter!
The Lions played an abysmal all-around game last week to the Jets, but one area that was especially painful was special teams coverage. The Lions gave up two big returns to former Detroit wideout Andre Roberts, including a back-breaker for a touchdown that sealed the game in the second half. The Lions cannot afford to give up big special teams plays on the road. Plus, Matt Prater must be better, too. The Lions need a lot to go right to end up 1-1.