The Detroit Lions Struggled To Stop Cam Newton In The Passing Game.
Going into the Lions vs. Panthers game, the Lions were 3-1. They leave 3-2. This was a disappointing performance across the board. The Detroit Lions are supposed to be contenders. They have looked like contenders through four games, but they didn’t look like contenders today. The offense looked completely out of sync and the defense, while excellent at times, gave up some very big plays, and let Cam Newton tear them apart.
The Detroit Lions offense showed almost no signs of life throughout the vast majority of the game. They showed up to the game when the game was on the line. This is obviously good to see. It is also expected. We know that Stafford is going to show up to play in the fourth quarter. It’s important that the Lions show up to play on offense for the whole game.
In the Lions vs. Panthers game, Stafford looked bad. He has had an injury to his forearm that he has been dealing with. He sustained more injuries throughout the game. Stafford has been beat up this year and it appears to be affecting his play. He hasn’t been his usual accurate self. Stafford had his second poor game in a row in terms of accuracy. His ball placement has been bad and he has missed throws that he should make. Stafford is a good quarterback, he just can’t have games like this consistently and expect to win.
The offensive line did Matthew Stafford no favors. Stafford was sacked six times. A couple of those sacks were due to Stafford holding the ball too long, but the offensive line was not good. Taylor Decker can not come back quickly enough. Greg Robinson struggled, as he has through the last few weeks, and it showed. The holding penalties and the sacks made this game very difficult for Matthew Stafford who was already dealing with nagging injuries that have appeared to affect his accuracy.
The running game was a non factor in this game. The Lions ran the ball sparingly and were forced into throwing the ball for the vast majority of the second half. The Lions haven’t been in a situation where they can’t run the ball very often, but this was certainly one of those situations.Zenner had a few nice runs, including one for a touchdown. Abdullah looked good. The problem was the game script. The backs didn’t have the opportunity to produce based on the score of the game, and the coaches didn’t do them any favors with the play calling.
I wrote an article recently about the predictability of the Detroit Lions play calling, and that article held true in this game. Before the Lions went into their “comeback offense” everything was predictable. The Lions ran the ball and used play action on first down when they were in the pistol or under center. They threw the ball out of shotgun. Nothing changed here, and that was evident.
The Carolina Panthers took advantage of this on defense. The Panthers, a team that is usually light on blitzing, blitzed the Lions on a regular basis in the situations that the Lions usually run the ball or use play action. It destroyed the Lions’ offense.
This Lions vs. Panthers game is a perfect example of why play calling is important. When things don’t go the Lions’ way they have to be able to produce on offense. That production needs to stem largely from play calling. The Lions didn’t produce today, and the play calling wasn’t good.
Overall, the defense didn’t really look that bad. They look terrible on the stat sheet, but on film, the team was OK. Just OK. The team gave up a feww big plays that really ruined the game for them. They bit hard on play action. They left a couple of receivers wide open. Their performance, while solid for most of the game, is not acceptable. If you want to win games, you don’t give up plays like the Lions gave up today.
The defensive line recorded a couple of sacks. Thats another thing that looked good on the stat sheet but didn’t translate to the game film. Cam Newton had a lot of time to throw on a regular basis. This is a contributing factor to Cam looking better than he has all year.
Against the run, the defensive line looked really good. In this Lions vs. Panthers match up, the Lions did a really nice job against the run. The defensive line was stuffing holes, holding gaps, and they were overall disruptive against the run.
A huge part of the Lions’ success against the run was the aggressiveness of the linebackers. The linebackers played downhill and filled the holes in the run game. In coverage, it’s tough to say what they are to blame for. Panthers’ tight end Dixon tore apart the Lions’ defense, but without re-watching the film, it is tough to decide where the blame should go.
Jarrad Davis was a huge return in this Lions vs. Panthers game. His performance was a mixed bag. He was very aggressive and very quick to get in the backfield. There were a number of play that Jarrad Davis destroyed by just getting himself in the right position. That said, Davis missed a lot of tackles. There were several plays where Davis forced the runner into another defender. These plays were fantastic for the Detroit Lions’ defense. Similarly, there were also several plays where Jarrad Davis had the chance to make a big stop for the defense and missed the tackle. He has to be more consistent in his tackling if he is going to be what the Lion drafted him to be.
The secondary played very conservative in this game. That was a strange choice against a historically inaccurate Cam Newton. The Lions played off coverage more often than not. Panthers’ receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Funchess are both big receivers. They are both deep threats because of their size and physicality. They aren’t burners. It looked like the Detroit secondary was worried about getting beat deep due to the Panthers’ deep threats. Instead, the Panthers attacked the intermediate routes and threw to the tight ends. It was effective.
Lions Vs. Panthers: What It Means
The Lions should have won this game. I’m not saying they deserved to win this game. I’m not saying that the refs did something to keep us from winning. The Lions should have won, because they are the more talented team. They didn’t win, because they had a poor game plan and continually have poor play calling.
The Lions are now 3-2. Their next few games don’t look as brutal as they did to start the season, but they are still tough games. These are games that the Lions have to show up to. These will be games that will show us who the Lions really are. At 3-2, the Lions are still in a good spot to win the division, but they have to play better than they did today.