The Detroit Lions did not just lose in Week 2, they got embarrassed; they were clowned. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers put the sword to them. This is not just a normal loss: this is a loss that will make you rethink the direction your organization is heading in.
Things are bad in the Motor City right now. Here are a few takeaways from the 42-21 loss.
The youngsters on defense are looking like a disaster
One point that gave a lot of Lions fans hope entering 2020 was the amount of young talent the team had on defense. Will Harris and Jarrad Davis have struggled before, but they had upside. Amani Oruwariye could get better after another year in the NFL. Jeff Okudah is one of the most exciting cornerback prospects in years. Tracy Walker has huge upside and had shows flashes of potential stardom. Jahlani Tavai impressed as a rookie, and looked like he could develop into a reliable linebacker longterm.
Every one of those players—sans Walker who struggled a bit but did have a few bright spots—looked awful against the Packers.
Davis still has no idea how to fill in a gap against the run, and he can not cover either. Tavai seems to have absorbed some of Davis’ problems, and he looks like a much worse player in Year 2 than he did as a rookie.
The secondary is, yet again, a disaster, and it is because of the younger players. Veteran Duron Harmon played great on Sunday, and bailed out his team a few times. Harris still looks lost on defense, though, and somehow always has the worst possible tackling angles. Oruwariye has regressed after being a stand out talent late last season. Okudah was repeatedly picked on by Aaron Rodgers in his NFL debut, and gave up a ton of intermediate passes that eventually damned the team.
Matt Patricia rebuilt this defense from scratch during his tenure here—Davis is the only starter who was here before the coach arrived in 2018—and largely through these younger players. The experiment has been a failure thus far, though, and it looks like none of these players are going to work out for the team down the road.
Matthew Stafford is making the same old mistakes again
One of the reasons Matthew Stafford’s 2019 season was so good was his ability to mitigate errors. He rarely turned the ball over, he did not run himself into sacks, and he did not get his team in trouble. The defense often let him down anyway, but he at least did enough to keep the team relevant. A once mistake-prone quarterback seemed to have finally grown enough to play smarter and more efficiently.
On Sunday, he went back to his old ways. He threw a terrible interception for a touchdown near his own end zone when he was clearly baited by the cornerback. He took an awful sack near his own goal line around halftime, leading to the Packers scoring from great field position on the next drive. Throughout the game, his accuracy was sporadic, and he held the ball too long in the pocket. The Stafford from 2019 was gone. Instead, he looked like the Stafford from 2012.
This may have been the result of the quarterback panicking. Only two weeks in and it already feels like Detroit’s season is on the brink of disaster, so he may have been trying too hard to make plays. It also may be a result of an injury he suffered early in the game, where he awkwardly released the ball, and clearly looked shaken up as if some part of his body gave up on him during the play. He persevered through it—even waving back up quarterback Chase Daniel off of the field—but he clearly looked off for the rest of the game.
How long does Patricia last?
The calls for Patricia’s head have never been louder.
It is year three. The defense is his own. He got rid of fan favorites like Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs, as apparently dealing away good football players to “help the culture” was a worthwhile endeavor.
Detroit has been a disaster to start the season—and it is because of the defense. They can not stop anyone. Even in Week 1 against the Bears, when the defense had held Chicago to only six points through three quarters, it was more because of Mitch Trubisky’s failures rather than the Lions playing well. This week they met a quarterback that is actually good, and he torched them.
Patricia finally got his guys and his guys look like they have no idea what they are doing. The Lions have two tough games against high-powered offenses coming up. First, the Arizona Cardinals out in the desert next week, and then Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. If Detroit is 0-4 entering their Week 5 bye, and they are winless because of their defense—then the Patricia experiment may not make it more than a quarter of the way through the 2020 season.