Lions: Great Win, But Issues Still Remain
Your gridiron heroes, the Detroit Lions, went into Lambeau Field on Thursday night and beat their longtime rivals, the Green Bay Packers, 34-20.
The win puts the Lions at 3-1 on the season and in first place in the NFC North with 13 games remaining in the season.
And while it was stunning to see so much Honolulu Blue and Silver in the stands, the team gave them plenty to cheer for for the majority of the game. Let's start with the really good.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE AND THE RUNNING GAME
Getting left tackle Taylor Decker back (even at less than 100%) was huge. Star tackle Penei Sewell could move back to right tackle and the line blocked well enough so running back David Montgomery could run for 121 yards and THREE touchdowns. 211 total yards rushing as a team speaks for itself.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE!!!
They were awesome in the first half, and pressured Packers QB Jordan Love all night long. They sacked him five times and forced two interceptions (both by backup safety Jerry Jacobs). And they held Packers Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones to just 18 yards on five carries. He was a non-factor. And the Packers had only 27 rushing yards on the night. The coverage in the secondary was good, too. That's led by cornerback Cam Sutton, pictured above.
DAN CAMPBELL COACHED A GOOD GAME!!!
He's actually coached two good games in a row. After contributing to the Seattle loss with reckless and stupid 4th down calls, he has gone a bit more conservative the last two games. And it has helped them.
He has allowed his great punter, Jack Fox, to be a factor in the game. And he picked the right spots to be aggressive and go for it on fourth down. They were 2-2 on 4th down against the Packers, and they both worked. And more importantly, had they not worked, it was still the right call on principle.
But one glaring issue remains...
INJURIES, INJURIES, INJURIES
Rookie safety Brian Branch suffered an ankle injury and missed much of the game and C.J. Gardner-Johnson is out for a long period of time after getting hurt against Seattle. Therefore, they were playing backup safeties at many key points in the game (Tracy Walker, III and Jerry Jacobs). But they held their own because of the D-Line pressure. And Jacobs had two interceptions.
The offensive line is banged up. Starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai was scratched again after getting hurt against Seattle. Taylor Decker came back after an ankle injury. Left guard Jonah Jackson is playing hurt, and so is Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow.
Fullback Jason Cabinda didn't play and the Lions used almost exclusively one-back sets. It worked as results showed against Green Bay.
But if the Lions want to win their first division title since 1993, and win their first playoff game since 1991. They need most of the guys mentioned above to get back to playing condition.
HOWEVER, THIS IS A VERY GOOD TEAM
This is the best talent the Lions have had in years. Maybe since Barry Sanders and Herman Moore were there. And they look like a cohesive team. Credit to owner Sheila Ford Hamp, executive Brad Holmes, and head coach Dan Campbell for fostering that.
They now lead the NFC North with a 3-1 record and have the tiebreaker over Green Bay. They are in good shape. But they still have lots of tough games remaining. And if the injuries keep mounting, bigger problems could be down the road.
Fans, be happy you're 3-1. But don't be satisfied. Not yet, anyway.