The Detroit Lions hit the dreaded eight-loss mark in Week 14, making it impossible for them to end 2020 with a winning season and surpassing the loss total that got head coach Jim Caldwell let go after the 2017 season. To make things sting even more, loss number eight came against the Green Bay Packers by a score of 31-24, clinching the division for their rivals and temporarily giving them the top seed in the NFC.
Here are a few takeaways from another loss:
Death by a thousand cuts
The Packers were in total control of the Lions despite only having one “big play” all game — when wide receiver Davante Adams scored on a 56-yard catch and run in the first quarter. They did it buy staying ahead of the chains all day, avoiding mistakes and keeping the clock moving. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford barely even played in the third quarter, as Green Bay had over 13 minutes of possession.
Unlike previous losses this season, there was not really a certain player that embarrassed Detroit. While Aaron Rodgers posted an impressive stat line, with 290 yards and three touchdown passes on 33 passing attempts, it is not like he stuffed the box score or the highlight reel in Week 14.
Green Bay’s three touchdown drives after the first quarter all together took 23 minutes off the clock, and each were at least 12 plays long. The Lions defense had no way to stop the Packers on early downs. They had virtually no pass rush, could not contain Rodgers on the ground — allowing to convert multiple third downs with his legs — and no penetration with the run game. Looking at each play individually, the defense did fine, but they just absolutely failed to generate any big plays against Green Bay.
Abandoning the run game
Any Lions fan that has watched the team all season has felt frustration with the amount of downs the team wastes running the ball for no gain. Early first down runs would often put the team behind the chains, and set the team up for a punt only a few plays later.
Detroit abandoned that trend this weeks, and largely abandoned the run game game all-together. D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson and Kerryon Johnson combined for only 13 carries, with Swift’s seven being the most on the day.
The team threw the ball 40 times against Green Bay, a much higher total than usual. Stafford had 34 attempts before leaving the game early with a ribs injury. He notched 244 yards and a touchdown, an impressive total when compared to the other games the team has played this season without top receiver Kenny Golladay.
Some of this may have been because the team trailing nearly all game. With Green Bay draining the clock with a lead, the Lions had to make the most of when they had the ball, and not allow themselves to waste possessions on run-run-pass drives. Still, though, a change in philosophy under Bevell seems to be underway and the team already looks much more aggressive on offense compared to weeks past.