Week 3 Keys to the Game: All Packed up

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Week 3 Is In The Books, How Did Detroit Play Against Green Bay?

After finally ending the drought in Lambeau field, the Lions predictably went back to the norm in an injury-plagued matchup against the Packers, losing 34-27. Detroit got out to almost the absolute worst start possible, allowing scores on each of the Packers’ first five drives going down 31-3 with a little under four minutes left in the second quarter.

From that point on however, the Lions suddenly began to actually turn early effectiveness into points, starting with a beautiful pass play between Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones on a 73-yard touchdown pass to end the first half. After the last Green Bay touchdown, at the end of their 31-3 run, Detroit went on a run of their own, going 24-3 from that point onward. Some help came from very conservative Green Bay play calling and the Lions stunningly came back to within one score of winning the game with a minute thirty left and all three timeouts. Like a page straight out of the How to Play Like a Lion by author Matt Millen though, it simply was not too be.

The Packers made it seem almost as if they wanted to toy with the Lions all along. Taking a run game that was being completely stuffed for most of the second half and quite easily made a game ending first down after Jim Caldwell burned all three timeouts, finishing the ball game. It’s been a day and I’m still not sure if it was better or worse that they gave me that amount of hope after that amount of misery

Week 3 Keys To The Game

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  • Not-so-special teams

Among the many issues that occurred on Sunday for Detroit, a lesser recognized but extremely important point to note is that they did not have a good day on special teams. In the first quarter an obscure, and frankly ridiculous, rule was utilized by Ty Montgomery to penalize Sam Martin huge for a phenomenal kickoff by going out of bounds and reaching for a ball at least seven feet in bounds.

A perfectly placed kick should have had the Lions defense in great position to rebound after an ugly first drive on the Packers own two-yard line, but it resulted in what essentially became a thirty-eight yard penalty. Giving the Packers a short field they quickly took advantage of. Green Bay scored a touchdown a minute forty-four later and all of a sudden it was an 11 point game. While that ticky-tacky nonsense can’t completely be put on Martin it contributed to a negative day for the unit as a whole.

Outside of that ridiculous play two others had poor outings. Matt Prater missed wide right on a second quarter field goal that just added insult to injury, capping off the clear low point for the Lions in that game. Combined with an extra point miss last week against Tennessee, that places him sixteenth in the league in kicking. That’s not a great start for the sixth best kicker in the NFL last season. While it is by no means time to worry about a Matt Prater regression, this is definitely something to watch for going forward this season.

The main player though that needs to be singled out due to poor performance is Andre Roberts. Mason Crosby had seven kickoffs during week 3 and Roberts elected to return three of those, none of which got past the twenty-five yard touchback point, and all but one ending behind it. In kick returns he was responsible for negative nineteen yards with two negative yards going to Dwayne Washington after the coaches gave him the job – showing they had lost faith in Roberts

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  • D-line Dysfunction

Prior to this season the defensive line was viewed as a dominant unit, supposedly set to be the backbone of a Lions defense looking to set the tone against the run. These hopes have evaporated since week one. Yes losing Ziggy Ansah was a big hit, but this was a unit supposedly filled with quality talent and depth that should not be as impacted as it has seemed to be.

In the run game they currently sit twenty-first in the NFL, getting several stops before having a lapse and allowing a big back breaking carry in an inopportune, or in the case of the last game, a game ending moment. While they can show that they are capable of holding the line of scrimmage, there has been absolutely no interior pressure at all.

Even on the outside, with Ansah out and Taylor to be playing injured, besides stand out Kerry Hyder nobody is getting regular pressure on the quarterback. The most disappointing fact is that they haven’t even played very good offensive lines that provide a reasonable challenge that could cause these failures, they simply should have done better.

I don’t know if it’s an issue of scheme, circumstance, or personnel with the loss of pass rushing tackle Caraun Reid in the middle. The defensive line looks gassed early and often despite having plenty of spares, and continue to be largely ineffective outside of several outlier plays. If things do not turn around in that regard soon forget about being a competitive team, this is a bottom five defense.

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  • Coaching

The biggest key to the Lion’s failures by far through week 3 came out in force in today’s loss. The entire team came out completely and utterly unprepared to play, outside of Matthew Stafford and the passing attack really, and it resulted in a massive and embarrassing game. The onus for that falls solely on Jim Caldwell.

Despite the Lions passing attack showing up and doing a great job all day, the decision was made to continually go back to Theo Riddick even though the offensive line failed to open any holes for him and Dwayne Washington was running well between the tackles. That, along with an ill-conceived end around to Golden Tate that went for a eight yard loss and froze a promising drive, falls solely on Jim Bob Cooter.

The defense was consistently put into terrible one-on-one matchups, Nevin Lawson consistently takes nonsense dumb penalties, and the Lions red zone defense is the absolute worst in the NFL. That falls solely on Teryl Austin.

The coaching staff did a poor job across the board in their responsibilities and by the time they made some sort of adjustment it was already a four-touchdown deficit. I could go on and provide various examples of individual circumstances they could have done better but a comprehensive failure like this does not deserve that level of analysis. The team deserves better from this staff and hopefully receives it heading in to next week.

Rebounding Off Injuries

With that being said though things are not all doom and gloom. Zaviar Gooden, who confirmed this week he is in fact a real person, has been released signaling that at least one if not more of our linebackers are scheduled to return. Which will be huge for getting the defense to rebound. Banged up key contributors like Devin Taylor and Wallace Gilberry will have another week to heal up, and there’s time to develop a better scheme after our key losses like Ansah and Ameer Abdullah.

On top of that the Lions now enter the easiest stretch of their season, facing the Bears, Rams, and Redskins in three of the next four games. If Detroit can find a way to pull those out, even if the Eagles don’t come back to earth and are able to beat them at home, Detroit will have four wins and three losses with nine games still left to play. Which puts them right in the hunt for the wild card. This article was not to signal all is lost, far from it, but it is to serve as a wakeup call. Detroit needs to respond now, if not the season could quite easily get out of hand.

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About the Author

Chris is the founder of everything you see here. A former radio presenter and Detroit native, he now resides in sunny California – and like so many of us, he found himself marooned on an island devoid of other Lions fans. After spending a few years in the Detroit Lions Reddit community he decided to start the Detroit Lions Podcast. Its become the #1 Detroit Lions podcast, and regularly ranks with the top podcasts in Detroit. With a mixture of pre-recorded shows, live & recorded phone-ins, and live post-game broadcasts - this is his slice of Honolulu Blue heaven.