The Detroit Lions continue to struggle to find an offense in 2021, and they’re beginning to try to take drastic measures to see if they can find anything that can sustain itself on the field.
Perhaps the most drastic step has been Dan Campbell quietly assuming play calling duties over the last two weeks on the field. In Week 10, it produced a tie and 229 yards on the ground with 2 touchdowns. During Week 10, the results were much, much worse for Detroit.
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The Lions only managed an anemic total of 245 yards and 12 total first downs against Cleveland with Campbell’s offense on Sunday. Worse yet, the team only put up 77 total passing yards with a healthy quarterback in Tim Boyle. Campbell looked content to play it safe most of the afternoon in multiple ways, running draw plays on third down, not electing to go for forth and short plays and not letting his quarterback uncork many deep passes.
After the game when speaking to the media on November 21, Campbell himself even admitted to perhaps having to rethink things in terms of aggressiveness even though he believes there is a method to the madness.
“I get it, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that question was I too conservative, and maybe I ought to throw it more, but I’m just not ready to do that with where we’re at here,” Campbell said to the media. “Last week was a certain situation, this week was, I think you got to go where the game takes you. We got plenty of ammo in there, but it’s also man you got to be smart and how do you get yourself to have the best chance to win at the end you’re in it? So I didn’t feel it was right. I didn’t feel it was the right thing to do.”
Campbell has to take a few more chances, or it’s becoming clear that the Lions may not win a game. Early in the season, the coach seemed to delight in taking chances. While he might not have the horses now to execute consistently, he needs to try to find some big plays for the Lions down the field, no matter how dangerous the plays may seem in the moment.
What else was learned from the game? Here’s a look at more thoughts.
D’Andre Swift is Becoming an NFL Star
No matter who is calling the plays for the Lions, it’s clear that dialing up Swift should be a major goal for the team. He once again thrilled Detroit with an amazing run in the game, and showed off his toughness as well as his speed in rushing for 136 yards and 1 touchdown on the day. The touchdown was very electric:
At this point, it’s easy to see how the Lions have a star on their hands in Swift at this point. He’s looking like he will continue to evolve into one of the league’s best dual-threat running backs and perhaps even become a top five player at his position.
Jerry Jacobs Has Become a Major Find on Defense
The Lions have managed to hang in there on defense most of the season and did so again in Week 11. The reason? They continue to be opportunistic with the takeaways, and are getting solid play out of unexpected sources such as Jerry Jacobs. The undrafted free agent put up 2 tackles in the game and continued to look like he was in the right place at the right time and not overmatched at all. After the game, he showed his confidence on Twitter.
Jacobs is calling his shot, and clearly, he has the ability to live up to the prediction. That would be massive for Detroit’s future on defense.
Lion? AJ Parker, Cornerback
Having shouted out a few of the other studs, it’s time to give Parker some major credit for picking up his first career NFL interception. Parker made a great pick of a tipped pass, and continues to show some impressive instincts on the field.
Parker had only 1 tackle and 1 interception in the game, but the play was massive in the fourth quarter for a rookie undrafted player to deliver. Give Parker credit for continuing to not look outclassed on the field. This play should allow him some major confidence to finish the season.
Lamb? Tim Boyle, Quarterback
Boyle was far from the problem in the game, but it’s clear he is far from the solution for the Lions, too. It might not have been the best idea for the Lions to start a rusty Boyle in the game, and it showed with a pair of ugly interceptions that simply cannot happen.
Boyle only threw for 77 yards and completed 15 passes. Would David Blough have done better? Given Detroit’s personnel, it’s hard to say, but it’s becoming clear there are few good options on Detroit’s roster at quarterback right now, a point underscored by Blough’s rough day.
Lions’ Stat to Note
67, that was the total of penalty yards the Lions had in the game. It was very clear that the Lions lacked discipline in a tightly-called game, especially given they picked up a costly 15 yard personal foul for an apparent taunt about someone’s mother from Jonah Jackson. This only helps to prove how far the Lions have to go in order to button up their game. Having over 60 yards in penalties is just an ugly total for any team, much less one with a small margin of error like the Lions have.
Lions’ Quote to Note
“There wasn’t a lot of adjustments game-plan wise, just executing the call. Less penalties, wrapping up tackles, jusr getting off the field, just executing. That’s all it was.” -Amani Oruwaryie. After a tough start, Detroit’s defense buckled down well at halftime and didn’t allow any points. As Oruwariye said to the media after, there was no magic to the reason, just some much better play.
The Lions simply need to keep fighting, and perhaps find some more big plays in order to turn this around and find a win this season.