Tom Greene | November 11th, 2019
The Lions came into this game thinking that a Chicago offense lead by Mitchell Trubisky would at least put a band-aid on the problems that were on the defensive side. It turned out not to be true. While Trubisky only threw for 145 yards, the Lions secondary allowed him to throw for three touchdowns, and that’s all the Bears needed in a 20-13 victory over Detroit.
While 3-5-1 isn’t an insurmountable mountain to climb for the Lions, the Playoff reach got much, much harder with defeat today. Plus, with Matthew Stafford out, the challenge could be what the pun in the title says, overbearing. Let’s look at the three points from this game.
1. Again, Stafford is NOT The Problem
Perhaps a game like this was necessary for the Lions fans that don’t believe in Stafford. Stafford was out with broken bones in his back, and Jeff Driskel took over. He threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, which isn’t half bad. But, the difference between him and Stafford on the field was quite apparent. There were multiple throws downfield that were missed. He made more conservative check-downs rather than “airing it out” at times. It just looked as if the offense was… a little off. With your backup QB starting, that was expected.
The sooner Stafford gets back on the field, the better. But, just like Patrick Mahomes, you don’t want to rush him back simply to win. It could jeopardize his career and/or life.
2. Where’s the Running Game?
Ever since Kerryon Johnson went down, the running game hasn’t been the same. The numbers showed today. Driskel, yes, Jeff Driskel, was your leading rusher with 37 yards. J.D. McKissic was next on the list with 36. In total, Detroit rushers as a whole ended under 100 yards. While Detroit rushers somehow outgained Chicago, 98-81, the running game has been a problem, and has been for many years.
Of course, Ty Johnson was hurt and left in the first half, so this caused a minor change in the game plan. But the theme of this point is, Detroit has only had one 100-yard rusher this year, and it was Kerryon Johnson against Kansas City. The offensive line, which lost Ricky Wagner today, has had its work cut out for them. It could be a long final seven games for this line and rushing squad.
3. Defensive Struggles
As mentioned at the start of this article, the defense had a chance to make a statement Sunday after giving up 104 points and 949 passing yards in the last three games. An average of almost 35 points and 316 passing yards calls for a lot of questioning amongst secondary play and coaching.
In theory, the defense did much better today than in the last three weeks. Trubisky only threw for 173 yards and Chicago only scored 20 points. However, Chuck Pagano and Chicago’s defensive unit showed Detroit how it should be done. Their defense kept Driskel in check, shut down the rushing game, and forced a pick. Detroit’s defense did not have a turnover, which did not help things.
Last week, I questioned Paul Pasqualoni on whether he should remain on the staff for games to come. Statistically speaking, those questions have been answered. But in the win/loss record, it didn’t make a difference. We must remain critical and hope for the best going forward.
Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and the Dallas Cowboys are up next on the Lions’ schedule. The Cowboys have faced heat from just about any media outlet you can find, but low and behold, Jason Garrett‘s team stands atop the NFC East and are looking to make a Super Bowl run.
The Lions go from a must-win game for playoff implications to a must-win game to avoid getting nearly eliminated from any playoff hope. For the Cowboys, it’s a little different. Win, and take a great step forward towards another NFC East divisional crown. Lose, and the critics get insanely louder, ready to take Garrett’s job before Jerry Jones is ready to.
A lot lies at stake for both teams as we reach the middle of November. But one thing is certain, both teams will prepare for a shootout. This may leave one team closer to the postseason, and another searching for answers to questions we might not be asking today. We’ll find out next Sunday!
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images