What the hell just happened? I’m not sure that everyone knew what to expect from the Detroit Lions this year, but it’s fair to assume that most figured this wouldn't be a super fun year. If you were one of those assumers, the Lions' 41-33 loss to the 49ers on Sunday proved your assumptions were wrong. The Lions lost on Sunday, but it was all kinds of fun somehow.
As always, I have thoughts on this game. These are those thoughts.
Campbell is aggressive
Over the course of the last three years, Matt Patricia’s Lions went for it on 4th down 51 times. Dan Campbell had the Lions going for it five times in his first game as the team's head coach. Lions fans in the building loved it and rightfully so. You miss all the shots that you don’t take and Dan Campbell showed on Sunday that he’s willing to shoot the shots. He might surpass that 51 attempts super fast.
The aggression continued when the Lions successfully went for an onside kick late in the game. They were down 41-25 at the time, so it was kind of meaningless. But, it showed that Campbell has the gall to do things like that he’s not going to just lay down when the game appears to be clearly lost.
Turns out it wasn’t clearly lost. Campbell and company never gave up and the Lions had everyone in Ford Field on their feet and believing the team might pull off the miracle of all miracles.
This aggression is going to be a strong catalyst in the Lions' rebuild going forward.
The defense wasn’t all Matt Patricia’s fault
Relax. I’m not letting Patricia off the hook for being incredibly bad at his old job. But I will say that the Lions' defensive issues appear to be more of a talent issue than a coaching issue. The 49ers immediately exposed the Lions' run defense by ripping off 91 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in the first half alone. The Lions managed to slow them down a bit in the second half, but still allowed a total of 130 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
The Lions' passing defense didn’t do any better. They allowed Jimmy Garoppolo and sometimes Trey Lance to throw all over them. There were several times when the 49ers would complete a pass and you’d be looking all over the screen to find a member of the Lions' secondary. Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant, seen below grounding Jeff Okudah and taking away his screen privileges for the remainder of the summer, was just about as upset as can be.
Imagine coming home after curfew to this guy. pic.twitter.com/UNKOdpOdGI— Mike Payton (@POD_Payton) September 12, 2021
With Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense coming up next week, things could get way worse before they get any better. The Lions will need to do some serious work on this in the offseason.
Papi? I think not.
Not sure what the Lions were going for when they tweeted a picture of Jared Goff with the words “Papi’s home” before the game. As we learned on Sunday, Jared Goff is no papi. He’s more of a mijo.
It’s really disappointing. Goff is no Matthew Stafford and that’s ok. He doesn't have to be. After Sunday’s game, I’m not sure Jared Goff is even Jared Goff anymore. The man just looked lost out there and he just might be broken. I must confess though, he did play a lot better late in the game. Goff needs to put together an entire game.
I miss you Matthew
Lions can run the ball. This is not a joke
The Lions running backs really hit the ground running against the 49ers. Both D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams worked quite well in the Lions' ground game right away. Williams had a couple of big runs and generally worked his ass off to get every extra yard he could before finishing with 54 yards and a touchdown. Swift had a nice 16 yard run himself. As well as a big 42-yard screen touchdown. The Lions' offensive line deserves some credit here for opening up some massive holes to run through. But Williams and Swift showed that they can maneuver through those holes and find some ways to make their own holes too. This is good. It’s one less thing the Lions have to worry about.
Jeff Okuddah might be a bust
Ok, this is an overreaction.
But in year two, you expect the 3rd overall pick to show some sort of redeeming quality. He hasn’t really done that. It was nice that he showed up in very good shape, but his play has just not shown up. You saw the video above where he’s getting yelled at. He never got better after that. Instead, this happened.
At no point did Okudah attempt to locate the ball and he paid for it by focusing too much on the receiver who just shook him off on his way to a long touchdown. It’s too early to call Okudah a definite bust. I’m not going to do that today. But I will say that his play has him trending in that direction. Here’s hoping he corrects this. Going down with an apparent injury in the fourth quarter doesn’t help him.
The Lions got sacks!
To avoid fainting, keep repeating “it’s a rebuild”
Stuff like this always reminds me of the classic The Last House On The Left trailer. There’s the great line at the end of the trailer that really sold the movie to prospective moviegoers. The narrator says “to avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a move.” This is how Lions fans should be thinking all year long. Only they should keep repeating that it’s a rebuild.
It’s going to be a long year for Lions fans. You have to just remember that you kind of knew this would happen. The attitude for most Lions fans coming into the year was that they knew this was a rebuild and not to take too much to heart. Even though you know that, it’s still easy to get your heart involved and throw caution to the wind. I totally get it.
That’s why in times like this you have to remember that this is the very beginning of a rebuild that may take a while and probably should take a while. This time should be all about finding out who’s going to be in Detroit for that long while. Think of it like 18 weeks of preseason games if that helps. Whatever you do, don’t faint.