We no longer own the Bears.
Missed opportunities were the name of the game for Detroit, falling to the Chicago Bears 24-14. If the Detroit Lions want to get in the win column, they will need to improve their execution, as some critical mistakes cost them today.
Here are five takeaways from the Lions’ Week 4 loss:
Jared Goff needs to improve his accuracy
On the day, Goff finished with a 63 percent completion percentage, but it could have and should have been much higher. As usual, Goff was doing his best work in the short passing game. When it was time to throw deep, the results were mixed at best. Quintez Cephus and Kalif Raymond had some great plays, but Goff was airmailing throws all game long. A massive point swing happened when Goff missed Raymond for a touchdown, only to get strip-sacked a few plays later.
Coupled with their failures on fourth down and the red zone—we’ll get to those—the Lions can’t afford to miss key plays like this. The game ended as a 24-14 affair, but Detroit should have been closer and in position to win. Goff’s inability to push the ball downfield has and will continue to hamper this team.
The Lions are suffering for their aggressiveness
I will lead this off by saying I agree with the aggressiveness. Not only is it backed by analytics, but the Lions have too often gotten burned by playing it safe in years past. So far, however, the aggressiveness may be contributing to the losses.
The Lions had two turnovers on downs—one early and one late—that both came within the Bears' 10-yard line. Entering the game, the Lions were 2-for-7 on fourth down. They finished today going 1-for-3 and now sit at 30 percent on their attempts. Many of these haven’t been long, late-comeback types of plays. They are makeable distances and the Lions are failing to convert.
Fourth down conversions come with an obvious risk, but when you are converting them at league-average rates, it is worth it. The Lions' offense seems to implode on fourth down, and we’re reaching a point where the Lions are hurting themselves more by going for it. I like the aggressiveness, but I’m not sure the Lions have the offense to capitalize on it. The Lions weren’t winning this game if they kicked field goals instead, but if it’s a one-score game instead of two, who knows.
However, this leads into my next takeaway:
Red zone woes
Not much needs to be said aside from these stats:
4 trips inside the 10— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) October 3, 2021
Two turnovers on downs. https://t.co/ORzgFkea6p
When you get down within the 10-yard line, you need to come away with points. The Lions failed spectacularly on four occasions, and that’s what really cost them this game. The red zone weapons are limited, I will concede that, but these types of mistakes should not be happening. The botched snap looked comedic and is another example of how miscommunications are plaguing this team. Penei Sewell looked like a rookie on the strip sack. As mentioned, the offense stalled on the fourth down attempts. Goff will get blamed for his misses, but very little was working for Detroit when they needed it.
Decker will be the left tackle when healthy
The Penei Sewell honeymoon is over. After an incredible debut against the 49ers and a solid showing against the Packers, Sewell has come back down to Earth. Robert Quinn was bullying Sewell throughout the game, including notching that critical strip-sack. Perhaps there was an injury—he was limping in the fourth quarter—because his quickness looked sapped.
I’m not overly concerned about Sewell, since he is still a 20-year old rookie tackle. That being said, left tackle will be Taylor Decker’s position when he returns. Sewell’s excellent play early on resulted in some murmurs that Decker could be moved to right tackle. With Sewell’s regression, it seems fair to return him to right tackle. This might not be a long-term move, but for 2021, I think you keep Decker at left tackle.
Bob Quinn left this roster barren
As the weeks roll by, it becomes more and more evident that the Lions roster is awful. This is not a problem that can get fixed in a single offseason. When you are looking at needs for the upcoming draft, you have a list longer than a CVS receipt. Quarterback, receiver, defensive edge, linebacker, corner, safety, it goes on.
The Patriots-era of the Lions left this team in an awful state. Not only are the Lions stuck with some awful contracts—Jamie Collins was one of those—but there is zero depth. I do think the offense is a quicker fix, thanks in part to some great play calling from Anthony Lynn. The entire defense needs an overhaul, and at some point, you need the youngsters to step up.
The pass rush could be in a bad spot if Romeo Okwara is out long-term. The defensive line, once heralded as the bright spot on defense, is struggling in run defense too. David Montgomery and Damien Williams combined for 161 rushing yards, and that effective run game helped ease the burden for Justin Fields.
Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia did a lot of damage to the Lions, and their legacy will take a while to erase.