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6 takeaways from the Lions’ win over the Packers

The Lions finally secured another victory over the division-rival Packers. Let’s examine some takeaways.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

It was not the offensive explosion like some predicted, but the Detroit Lions emerged victorious over the Green Bay Packers in a hard-fought, if ugly, game.

Aaron Rodgers had three interceptions, and many Packers fans are turning against the future Hall of Famer. His Lions counterpart, Jared Goff, was not much better, but the Lions defense came through to hold the Packers to just nine points.

What takeaways can be had from the Lions’ victory over the Packers?

A win necessary to keep hope alive

Let’s get it out of the way: this was a much-needed victory, plain and simple. Not only were the Lions collapsing—and collapsing hard—but there was an ominous sense of dread after this recent week. Defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, a coach beloved by the players, was let go. T.J. Hockenson, once viewed as a focal point of the offense, was traded away. It suddenly looked like the wheels were coming off not just for this season, but Dan Campbell’s tenure as head coach.

The playoffs are still more dream than reality, but a victory on Sunday gives the Lions some optimism going forward. The doom and gloom of losing is put on the back burner, even if just for a week. It wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it.

Another defensive star from the 2022 draft

Aidan Hutchinson is on his way to being a quality defensive end—with some good hands to boot. Malcolm Rodriguez has been a welcome surprise as a sixth-round rookie. Josh Paschal has logged significant snaps since returning from injury and has played well while doing so. That haul alone is impressive for a draft class, but the Lions might have another star in the making.

Kerby Joseph had turnovers in back-to-back weeks entering Sunday, but one could argue that fumbles are inconsistent. If Joseph had any doubters, they were silenced against the Packers. Joseph had two brilliant interceptions for two very different reasons. His first interception highlighted incredible awareness to snag a deflected ball:

His second interception was a thing of beauty, jumping the route and stealing a touchdown from Robert Tonyan:

Not to be forgotten, Joseph had another breakup on a potential touchdown a few minutes prior:

Assuming Tracy Walker can return to full health next season, he and Joseph could be an incredible pairing in the secondary. There was some concern when Joseph took a hefty shot from Jeff Okudah, but perhaps we can be optimistic about his postgame presence. Additionally, it speaks to the draft class orchestrated by general manager Brad Holmes. It’s one thing to get a quality starter in the draft, but the Lions might have four—with a few more possibly on the way.

The post-Hockenson era is here with mixed results

As mentioned, trading away Hockenson was a bold move for the Lions. It left the Lions barren at tight end, with only Brock Wright and rookie James Mitchell on the active roster.

The first game without Hockenson was a mixed bag. Mitchell and practice squad call-up Shane Zylstra scored on short red zone catches, the only touchdowns for the Lions on the day. However, the tight ends combined for a mere three catches, with Mitchell adding a short five-yard reception late in the fourth, albeit for a first down. Wright had a crucial holding penalty that turned a second-and-1 into a first-and-20, eventually leading to a failed fourth down. Meanwhile, Hockenson had a solid Vikings debut with nine catches and 70 yards.

Blocking remains an issue, and the Lions tight ends could use some work outside of the red zone. Yet there is some hope that Mitchell will continue to improve as his snap count increases. He has the ability to be a weapon between the 20-yard lines, so expect him to get more involved as the season progresses. His play the rest of the season will determine if the Lions are in the market for a starting tight end next offseason. As evident by the trade, Hockenson was unlikely to be part of the long-term plans for Detroit, but they still need someone to replace him. Whether the Lions have that player on the roster right now is still to be determined.

A bad Goff game nearly sinks the Lions

Jared Goff going from great to awful is giving me whiplash. Whereas I thought his Week 8 performance against the Miami Dolphins was extremely underappreciated, his follow-up against the Packers was a stinker. Despite notching the win, the Lions won despite Goff, not because of him. A two-touchdown stat line is decent on paper, but Goff was throwing ducks for most of the game. Despite Aaron Rodgers having one of the worst performances of his career, Goff was still the worse quarterback on Sunday.

Arm talent and poor decision-making continue to plague Goff. The Lions are building a great core on offense, but they desperately need an upgrade at quarterback. With a seemingly strong draft class incoming, it could be a crucial moment for the rebuild. Speaking of which...

Was a win worth it?

We are entering an interesting—and controversial—portion of the season. Barring a massive win streak, the Lions will not be contenders in 2022. As a result, it naturally makes sense to switch from prioritizing wins to prioritizing draft position. When you consider the need for a quarterback, securing an early pick seems even more crucial.

With this victory, the Lions will no longer hold the first pick in the draft. There are many weeks left to play, but there are multiple teams in the two- and three-win range that could cause some serious jumps in draft position. Does the relief of this victory outweigh the possible draft spot slide? That’s up to you to decide.

Delay of game needs a serious rework

The Lions lost a heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 on a record-setting 66-yard field goal. The controversy, however, was a delay of game penalty that remained uncalled. With an expired play clock, no flag was thrown by the officiating crew. This allowed Baltimore to attempt the massive field goal that would have fallen well short if the proper penalty was applied.

We saw the delay of game rear its head on Sunday. The Packers got away with multiple expired play clocks with no penalty called on the play, one of which resulted in a crucial third-and-17 conversion. What is the point of having a play clock if it isn’t respected?

The clock hitting zero is, for some reason, a subjective call, which is ridiculous. The NFL needs to restructure how the delay of game penalty works. It should not come down to an official giving a one- or two-second grace period. When the clock expires, it expires. End of discussion.

Perhaps they could add a buzzer, similar to the NBA’s shot clock. When the buzzer and light go off, the play is over, no judgement needed from officials. How this will work with crowd noise, I am not too sure, but there has to be a logical workaround, right? Alternatively, you could have a dedicated timekeeper on the field responsible for the play clock and play clock alone. The play clock should be a black-and-white rule, and it’s absurd that there is so much leeway with a time-related penalty. Fix it, NFL.