The Detroit Lions lost an entertaining game on Sunday, but remained in a first-place tie in the NFC North by virtue of the carnage around them in the standings.
All of the team’s direct rivals lost, and perhaps no loss was as unexpected or galling in the way it played out than the defeat the Green Bay Packers took to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints thumped the Packers 38-3, and it was an ugly performance for quarterback Aaron Rodgers who threw for just 133 yards and 2 interceptions on the day.
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Now, Rodgers comes home to face the Lions in the home opener at Lambeau Field. In his career, he’s beaten the Lions quite easily given a 17-5 record against the team, but it’s fair to say that fans might smell more than a little blood in the water following his rough opener. The same cannot be said of the Detroit players.
Speaking to the media on Monday, September 13 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, linebacker Alex Anzalone said the team’s guard remains firmly up for Rodgers, and folks can probably throw out what happened in the first game of the year given the talent the quarterback possesses. As a result, he predicts a much better Rodgers at home under the lights on Monday, September 20.
“I think any time you play Aaron Rodgers, a future Hall of Famer, you have to bring your A-game. I don’t think he’s going to go out like he did last week, I think he’s going to come out swinging,” Anzalone said. “Monday Night Football on national television, and he’s not going to go down like he did last week.”
Detroit lost one close game to the Packers last season and were blown out in another. Perhaps more interestingly, they came close to beating their rivals at Lambeau Field a few years back under similar circumstances on Monday Night Football in 2019. The goal is to find a way over the hump in 2021.
Since then, Rodgers has not only added an NFL MVP to his trophy case, but the title of game show host as well. Anzalone didn’t seem to mind his work on Jeopardy! this past year.
“He was pretty good, he was entertaining too so he was a good host,” Anzalone told the media with a laugh.
Jeopardy! will simply have to wait, though, and Rodgers isn’t departing before facing the Lions again. That means the team will have to be ready for the challenge.
Alex Anzalone Sets Expectations for Lions After Loss
The Lions may have lost the game on Sunday, but Anzalone isn’t there to wallow in any bad feelings. As a team captain for 2021, he wants to see the Lions move on in the best way possible, which means looking at the tape, finding some corrections, and getting past it. That is what Anzalone alluded to with a Twitter post Monday.
Speaking in his press conference, Anzalone admitted that the script is being flipped to next week already for the team, as the Lions want a chance to rebound in the best way possible, especially heading into a divisional game against a rival.
“It’s an all new deck of cards. Everyone in this league is talented. Everyone in this league cares. The saying ‘any given Sunday’ is definitely true. The teams that move on to the next game the quickest and the best (are most successful),” he explained.
As for if the Lions can expect to improve, Anzalone thinks the team is still in good shape on defense providing they can correct some of their errors.
“I think we definitely have the guys to do what we want to do defensively. It is encouraging to know it is self-inflicted and it comes down to discipline and doing your job. That’s what good defensive teams do and we weren’t able to get that done. But it’s definitely fixable,” he said
That will be put to the test by the Packers in a big way.
Anzalone’s Stats and Highlights
Coming into the NFL as a third-round pick out of Florida in 2017, it didn’t take Anzalone long to make his presence felt with the Saints and become one of the team’s fan favorites. With his flowing locks and tough style, Anzalone managed to put up decent stats with the Saints and has 123 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 3 passes defended to his credit while in the league. If there’s been one red flag about Anzalone’s career at this point in time, it’s been injuries. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2017 and then was placed on the IR in 2019 with a knee injury.
Clearly, though, there is plenty to like here for the Lions. At just 26, Anzalone comes to the Lions on a prove-it contract, and is someone that can help lay the groundwork for a turnaround on defense. He will know Dan Campbell as well as Aaron Glenn, so there is some good familiarity for the team and Anzalone to rely on for this signing and it’s future.
A look at the highlights from his first few seasons in the NFL shows an explosive athlete who can move:
In Week 1, Anzalone managed 3 tackles and 1 quarterback him, so he will have to remain active for the Lions this week. It’s clear he knows what he is up against from a Packers standpoint.
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