Know the Foe: Lions 2.0
Another week in the books and another notch in the win column for the Green Bay Packers. They disposed of the Eagles 30-16 in a game that was only close after a QB change. Week 14 will be a road trip over Lake Michigan. Last week, The Detroit Lions got their fifth win of the season. It was a 34-30 thriller against the Bears 34-30, showcasing a certain clutch capacity for Detroit. This is the second go-around between the NFC North foes. In Week 2, the Packers got a 42-21 victory. What will happen against the Lions 2.0?
Not much has changed in player personnel from Week 2 to now in Detroit. The guys in charge however have been relieved of their duties. Two weeks ago enough was enough and both head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were shown the door. Patricia had lost his team and players and former players took to social media to rejoice the move. Darrell Bevell steps in as interim head coach. Bevell was in his second year as offensive coordinator and brought an impressive offensive resume after a long run with some good Seahawks teams. Mostly, this Lions 2.0 version, is mostly about the coaching staff.
… Same Players
On the field, Bevell still has long time vet Matt Stafford. The tough gunslinger is coming off a solid game last week carving up the Bears for over 400 yards and three touchdowns (1 int). On the season, Stafford is again north of 3,000 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The Lions have had to live without standout wide receiver Kenny Golladay for most of 2020. Each week, Golladay has tried to come back but a hip injury has nagged him. Marvin Jones and tight end T.J. Hockenson have done their part to pick up the slack. Jones, in year 9, has 619 yards and six scores. Second-year Hockenson is showing why he went in round one. The 6-5 250 lb tight end is also over 600 yards with five touchdowns of his own. Danny Amendola is in the slot but hasn’t found the end zone yet this season. Furthermore, rookie Quintez Cephus is coming off his best game and might warrant some more looks.
With D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson both struggling and/or battling injury, the ageless Adrian Peterson is still grinding it out. Peterson is averaging a pedestrian 3.7 yards a carry but has four touchdowns in the last two games. The 35-year-old can still be a threat near the goal-line.
The offensive line is still led by left tackle Taylor Decker and stud center Frank Ragnow. Decker has enjoyed his best year as a pro and should get a trip to the Pro Bowl. He is grading out with a strong 83.5 by PFF. Ragnow has also been a beast. After only allowing two sacks in 2019 he is following that up with a shutout in 2020. Kenny Clark again will see a top-tier opponent in the middle.
D struggles continue
When Patricia was brought in, the idea was he was bringing his defensive coordinator success he had in New England. That plan hasn’t gone the way the Lions wanted and one reason is not having the horses. This is an underwhelming group overall that ranks in the bottom 10 in the league in all metrics. The most staggering might be the league-leading 20 rushing touchdowns allowed. The lone bright spot on the defensive line is and Romeo Okwara. He leads the way with 7 sacks and veteran Everson Griffen has 5. Outside of that, Detroit struggles to get to quarterbacks up front. Add insult to injury and both can struggle to hold the edge. The Packers should have success with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams wearing down this unit.
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The off-ball players as a unit have struggled also. Linebacker Jamie Collins still moves around the unit to cause problems, but he has little help. Reggie Ragland is an old-school thumper in the middle, but he never lived up to the hype coming out of college.
Jeff Okudah has really struggled at cornerback. He should grow into a fine pro but the third overall pick in the 2020 draft will need all the help he can get if he’s matched up with Davante Adams. That help is also leaky. Tracy Walker has allowed 31 receptions on 41 targets this season. The other safety, Duron Harmon, has played better. He has two pics and is the more sure tackler. Still, the Packers pass catchers should be able to feast on this secondary.
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