FIRST DOWN: DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES
It’s been a rough first two games for the Detroit Lions‘ defense.
That unit has dealt with some key injuries in their secondary and upfront along their defensive line, but that’s part of the game, and every team’s depth is challenged at some point in the season.
Detroit’s blown double-digit leads in both of its first two losses to Chicago (27-23) and Green Bay (42-21). The Lions’ defense gave up 21 unanswered points in the opener against Chicago, and 31 unanswered Sunday.
They’ve generated no turnovers in the first two games, have recorded just two sacks and allowed 408 combined rushing yards.
“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do and we have to be consistent in what we’re doing,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game. “We have to get it coached up better and understand the techniques and improve all the way around.
“It’s early in the year, but it still has to be good. We have to do a better job in what we’re doing right now.”
The lack of pressure on the quarterback and an inability to win upfront in the run game are two major issues for this defense right now. Detroit travels to Arizona to face quarterback Kyler Murray and the explosive Cardinals‘ offense next week.
“We have to be better,” safety Duron Harmon said after the game. “That’s what it comes down to. Have to be more consistent.
“Got to get better. It’s the National Football League. No one is going to feel sorry for us because you’re 0-2. No one is going to give us anything or let us win. We have to go out and take it. Until we go out there and take it, this is going to happen.”
SECOND DOWN: A KEY SEQUENCE
There was an important sequence at the end of the first half that allowed Green Bay to take the lead and control of the game. It was a crucial swing in just about a minute and a half in real clock time.
The Lions were pinned back at their 1-yard line with just a minute left in the second quarter and Green Bay without any timeouts.
Detroit ran the ball off left tackle with running back Adrian Peterson for four yards on a 3rd and 16 play with one minute and 15 seconds left in the half in hopes of draining most of the rest of the clock. Offensive lineman Oday Aboushi was flagged for holding, which stops the clock, even with the Packers declining the penalty. Instead of being able to run an extra 40 seconds off the clock, the Lions were forced to punt with 1:08 on the clock.
On the ensuing Packers two-minute possession, second-year safety Will Harris committed two personal foul penalties – one on a late hit on the sideline and one on a horse collar tackle – to gift the Packers 30 yards of field position they used to score an 11-yard touchdown from Rodgers to tight end Robert Tonyan with 19 seconds left.
Detroit then missed a 57-yard field goal to end the half.
Green Bay received the second-half kickoff, and running back Aaron Jones took the first play 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a 24-14 lead.
That was a disastrous minute and a half of football that proved critical for the Lions.
THIRD DOWN: OKUDAH’S DEBUT
Lions first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall) Jeff Okudah made his NFL debut for the Lions Sunday in Green Bay after missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury.
We should hold off on any real evaluations until going back and watching the film, but there were some good things and some bad things for the Lions rookie Sunday, which was to expected.
He was in coverage on a couple incompletions, but he also gave up a big catch down the right sideline to wide receiver Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter that set up Green Bay’s final touchdown.
Okudah wasn’t afraid to stick his shoulder in there to support the run. He led the Lions with seven tackles.
“We’ll go back and look at it,” Patricia said after the game when asked about Okudah’s debut. “I don’t think anyone on the field did well enough.”
FOURTH DOWN: A BRIGHT SPOT
The play of first-year punter Jack Fox has been a positive these first two weeks.
Fox averaged 49.3 yards on four punts in the Week 1 loss to Chicago. His net was also 49.3 and he dropped two inside the 20-yard line.
Fox was good again Sunday in Green Bay, averaging 54.2 yards on five punts. He dropped two more inside the 20-yard line. He had a long Sunday of 67 yards out of Detroit’s own end zone.
Fox won a tightly contested punting battle in training camp against Arryn Siposs, and Fox has rewarded the Lions with making the decision to go with him early on this season.