Another week in the books and the Detroit Lions are still searching for their first win under Dan Campbell.
A record of 0-7 is certain to doom any playoff dreams, if you even had any to begin with. While few expected the Lions to compete for the playoffs this year, there was hope that the Lions would at least prove competitive in some games. Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams showed that while the Lions aren’t a good team, they have enough elements to make things interesting. Despite the seven losses, victory felt within reach for at least three of them. Their performances against the Ravens, Vikings, and Rams were by no means great, but the Lions had opportunities to win.
Coming into this game, the Rams were double-digit spread favorites over the Lions. Emerging with just a 28-19 loss could be considered a victory unto itself, although the players and coaches likely disagree.
As per usual, there are plenty of pros and cons to analyze from this loss. It was their sixth-straight game with below 20 points. However, the defense largely held the Rams in check, a substantial feat against one of the best offenses in the league. A relatively close affair led to the Lions utilizing their run game more often. And if excitement was what you craved, Dan Campbell and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp had a total of three fakes, two of them coming in the first quarter. The Lions came out swinging.
Still, the Lions are still winless during the 2021 season, and that means there are problems to be fixed. The question is, is fixing this team even possible this year?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you feel better, worse, or the same after the Lions’ loss to the Rams?
My answer: I feel a bit better.
It feels weird to feel better after a team dropped its seventh consecutive game, but it is important to remember the context. As seen in our score predictions, many expect this to be a blowout. Detroit came close to winning this game—they finally managed their first offensive snaps with a lead this year! And unlike the loss to the 49ers, the scoreboard wasn’t inflated by a late rally against prevent defense. The Lions truly challenged the Rams. Given that the Rams are in the discussion for Super Bowl contention, that’s an excellent showing.
The standings don’t reflect it, and the PFF grades might not either, but the Lions defense is stepping up. Despite injuries to key players like Romeo Okwara and Jeff Okudah, the defense is hanging tough. Even last week’s loss to the Bengals featured the defense playing well until the fourth quarter. Guys like Jerry Jacobs and Julian Okwara are playing their butts off, and I have to respect that even if the end result is a loss.
The aspect really letting this team down is the offense, and specifically the passing attack. As Jared Goff’s passing chart indicates, he just isn’t a downfield threat:
I’m not going to beat a dead horse about Goff, but it really highlights what separates the Lions from being a decent team. They have two good running backs in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. The offensive line is playing alright considering the injuries. The defense is overachieving. The limiting factor is the passing game, and the receivers and quarterback are substandard. Kalif Raymond had six catches for 115 yards, but the only other receiver to record a catch was KhaDarel Hodge with his lone three-yarder.
If this were the 1980s, you could get by with a run-heavy offense that the Lions would benefit from. However, the game has evolved to the point where a downfield passing offense is a necessity. D’Andre Swift might be a dynamic pass catching back, but with so many plays close to the line of scrimmage, you aren’t really challenging defenses.
Yet again, I am impressed by Dan Campbell and this coaching staff. I’m almost out of nice things to say, which is odd considering they are a winless team. The aggressiveness has continued, and I feel like a timid coach would have turtled by now. I’ve been singing praise for Aaron Glenn all season, and I genuinely believe he has head coaching potential. With the Matt Patricia Lions, coaching really stood out as a weakness. I can’t say the same about these 2021 Lions.
The losses suck, but I’m excited about the future of this team. I can’t say I feel a lot better, but there’s a smidgen of hope.
How do you feel about the Lions after their loss to the Rams?
This poll is closed
A lot better
A little better
A little worse
A lot worse