The Detroit Lions have lost three straight games and it does not look like it will get any easier from here. This week, the Carolina Panthers visit Ford Field for a Week 11 matchup. The Panthers have won three of the last four and at 6-3, they are firmly in the playoff race.
Carolina has primarily been carried by its stars this season. 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton is having another MVP level season with nearly 2,500 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns on the year.
“He’s a dangerous guy,” said Lions safety Glover Quin Wednesday, “He can throw it, he can run it… you have to defend him every play.”
The 10-year veteran has seen his fair share of extraordinary talents over his decade long career, but there are not many players like Newton out there.
“There’s no quarterback that’s that big and can run like that,” Quin said, “[Newton] would probably be the only guy.”
Newton measures in at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. He has the size of a tight end but the speed and footwork of a running back. The quarterback has over 4,600 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns in his eight-year career. Those numbers are unprecedented for someone listed at quarterback and his arm is not anything to overlook either.
“To have that combination of size and speed and ability, he’s a rare guy.” Quin added.
Newton is not the only star that Quin and the Lions defense will have to worry about Sunday. Running back Christian McCaffrey has really found his footing in his second NFL season. The Stanford product has already eclipsed his rookie year rushing yard and touchdown totals in only nine games in 2018. He is an incredible receiver, as well. His 54 receptions lead the team, and the running back has earned himself a reputation for embarrassing opposing linebackers with great route running and ability after the catch.
“He’s gonna challenge us in every way,” Quin said of McCaffery, “He’s just one of those guys who’s a very dangerous weapon.”
The combination of Newton and McCaffery give the Panthers the third best rushing offense in the NFL by DVOA.
“They work really well together... those guys are definitely making the offense go,” said Quin.
While the Panthers are a team rolling into what looks like another playoff appearance, Detroit is a team trying to keep its head above water.
None of the last three Lions losses have been remotely competitive. Their defense has made crucial mistakes that have resulted in huge plays that put the team in a hole. The offense has struggled, as well, and have not looked capable of making up any sort of deficit the defense puts them in.
The team has lost every game since trading for defensive tackle Damon Harrison Sr. While the addition of Harrison was great for the defensive front, it also exposed many weaknesses that were hiding in the teams secondary.
“Secondary wise, you can’t give up big plays, you can’t miss tackles,” Quin said of his unit’s recent struggles. “When you do that on the back end, it turns into points.”
Quin has personally been having the worst season of his storied career. He seems to have lost a step and is no longer the center fielder in coverage that opposing teams are scared to test. Quin has clearly lost a bit of speed over the years and is visibly slower then he has been in the past.
The safety’s struggles are just one part of a team wide slump everyone seems to be in. All-pro corner Darius Slay is having a down year after an incredible 2017 campaign. Quarterback Matthew Stafford may be having his worst season since he became the full-time starter in 2011. All around the roster, players are having out-of-character poor seasons and the team is struggling as a result.
“We just have to play better offensively, defensively and special teams and we just haven’t done it,” Quin said of the teams recent woes. “We gotta find a way to regroup and get it done.”
While from the outside things look gloomy in Detroit, there is still some hope in the Lions locker room.
“Things can change,” Quin told reporters.
If the Lions plan on making another run at the playoffs this year, then they must change and they have to change this week with the Panthers coming to town.