Expectations at the start of the 2019 season may not have been too high for the Detroit Lions, but a 2-0-1 record after the first three games started to turn a lot of heads. On paper, the early stretch looked fairly daunting for the Lions, and emerging from the first three weeks without a loss was a great start for a team with some question marks.
We all know what happened next. A close loss to the Chiefs was understandable and a good moral victory at the time, but two more losses followed to drop the team under .500. At this point, most of the good feelings have gone away, and the injury and trade news this week have only accelerated that decline.
The season is far from over, but the Lions have an uphill battle over the next two months. There are plenty of holes for this team to fix and many areas need to improve, and even a bunch of positive changes does not guarantee success in the standings, as both the NFC North and Wild Card race look to be as competitive as any year.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What has been the biggest reason for the Lions’ slide?
My answer: There are plenty of (valid) options here. Asked seven days ago, the answer may have been the referees. Injuries are also mounting up, with Kerryon Johnson sidelined for the rest of the year, half of the defense missing time against the Vikings, and even Matthew Stafford dealing with some issues. Maybe there has simply been some bad luck as well.
However, I believe the culprits lie in the run game—on both sides of the ball. General manager Bob Quinn has spent draft capital and free agent dollars building the offensive line and tight groups and restocking the running back spot. Where has that taken the Lions? Even before the injury to Johnson, Detroit is back to a one-dimensional offense that can do next to nothing against decent run defenses.
Meanwhile, the defensive line has been horrible against the run, which is a huge disappointment after dominating last season. Da’Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels have not been healthy, but Damon Harrison has been nowhere close to what he was last season, whether that is due to age or holdouts or something else.
Fixing one of these areas might help turn some of the losses into wins. The Lions will need to find a way to remedy the run game on both sides of the ball if they want to seriously compete this year, though.