The Detroit Lions lost in brutal fashion. Two phantom hands to the face calls on defensive end Trey Flowers allowed the Green Bay Packers to drive down the field and erase a late nine-point lead and win 23-22. A missed defensive pass interference call late also cost Detroit the opportunity to pad their lead a bit.
While the refereeing is the big story here—and deservedly so—we are gonna work around that here, and focus on some other takeaways from the teams devastating loss:
The offense must be able to convert opportunities
The Lions defense is good. They have generated 11 turnovers this year and have made big defensive stops to put the offense in position to score. Detroit needs the offense to start taking advantage of opportunities.
The Lions kicked five field goals en route to a one-point loss, and had they converted just one more chance in the red zone, then their entire season outlook may be different at the moment. After a flea flicker busted open the Packers defense on the opening play of the game, they failed to get anything more than a field goal.
This became a running theme throughout the game. Detroit’s offense would string together a few good plays to get down field, then sputter out once they got deep in Green Bay territory. While one could argue that they did not get a fair shake on Monday, the game plays out much differently if the Lions’ offense did better on shorter fields.
The run game is dead
For the fourth time in five games, running back Kerryon Johnson finished short of the four yard per carry mark. He averaged 2.6 yards on his 13 carries, and his touchdown was a punch-in from a few feet out.
Johnson is now averaging 3.3 yards per carry in 2019, and the run game that is usually the staple of Darrell Bevell’s offense is missing. First down runs are not going anywhere, putting the team behind the chains. The team has tried to see if J.D. McKissic could do anything to help, but his three carries of Monday night only earned him 4 yards.
The problem lies up front. The offensive line has failed to create any room for the guys in the backfield and has made Detroit’s offense one dimensional again. While putting the ball in Stafford’s hands more often does seem great, the team very clearly wants to run a possession offense and need the run game to step up if they are going to do so.
No speed or separation
Another issues that became apparent for this team was at wide receiver. The flea flicker shot to Kenny Golladay clearly caught the defense off guard and the receiver easily got behind the defense. Golladay was not fast enough to house the run, though, and he ended up being chased down. The drive ended in a field goal.
This lack of speed in the receivers room was a sticking point on here last offseason. While you cannot blame Golladay or fellow starting receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for their lack of speed, Detroit added both knowing they were more physical receivers who attack at the point of the catch. Detroit not having a reliable faster receiver for deep shots like that hurts the team.
Neither Golladay nor Jones Jr., were able to get regular separation, either. This forces Stafford to either take ill-advised throws into tight windows or just check it down. Not being able to win routes in short space really hurts, especially with pass rushers like Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith on the other side.
The return of Danny Amendola to full health— he played on Monday, but was a game time decision and was a bystander for the most part—should help, but the Lions need an outside receiver that can regularly get open for Stafford.