Winning three football games in a row is a tall task to accomplish in the National Football League. The Lions tried to make it four straight, but they got in their own way to get above .500 on the year. The Seattle Seahawks out schemed and out maned Detroit after the Lions came out swinging early in the first quarter. Seattle found their adjustments both offensively and defensively and never looked back after the Lions went up 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Lions’ success running the football last week in Miami did not follow them back home against Seattle. Detroit had only 34 yards on 13 rushing attempts. The Seahawks played with great pad level and dominated the line of scrimmage. The Lions offensive line struggled to get movement on double teams and get to their linebackers forcing the Lions to be one dimensional.
A part of their problem running the football was the lack of time of possession. The Seahawks did what the Lions did to the Patriots in week three, they had long, methodical drives that chewed up the clock and kept Matthew Stafford and his offense on the sideline. It’s tough to score on offense when off the field.
Winning the turnover battle is crucial to a teams success. The Lions shot themselves in the foot three times with one interception and two fumbles. The kick-return fumble by Ameer Abdullah in the second quarter changed the course of the game. After that fumble and Seattle scoring a touchdown off that mistake, the Lions were in catch-up mode for the remainder of the game forcing the Lions to throw the ball to score quickly.
Stafford had two crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter that cannot be put on anyone but himself. He had poor ball security in the pocket by not keeping the ball high and two hands on the ball while climbing the pocket and forcing a ball on a sprint out to his right on the 4-yard line of Seattle on 1st and goal that should have been thrown away and play the next down. His gunslinger mentality backfired on him on that play.
The Lions as a whole looked out of sync on offense. If the Lions continue down the road they’re on offensively, they will finish 7-9 or 8-8, especially with a tough five-game stretch coming up with the Vikings on the road this upcoming week.
The good offensively
The screen game of Detroit looked strong out of the backfield between Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. Johnson has turned into the running back the Lions have been waiting for since Reggie Bush in 2011. His size, strength and quickness make him in contention to be offensive rookie of the year. The Lions will continue to find more ways to get him the football out of the backfield in the passing game.
Marvin Jones Jr. had his best game this season. He needs to continue to play at the level he is to establish himself as one of the best receivers in the NFC North. Something Marvin Jones Jr. does better than a lot of receivers in the NFL is tracking the deep ball. His ability to move his body and make tough catches over his shoulders is a trait that is underappreciated with Stafford’s big arm ability.
The Lions went back to the first two weeks of the season on defense with their inability to stop the run. The Seahawks had an excellent game plan of spreading the Lions out with their man-to-man base coverage and running the ball inside with inside/outside zone read and counter with Chris Carson and Mike Davis rotation. Both Carson and Davis were stellar with their patience of allowing blocks to develop in front of them. The defensive line overran plays allowing cut back lanes for Seattle’s running backs. Giving up 176 yards on the ground will very rarely have a W come out of it.
Speed kills no matter what level of football it is. The Seahawks do not have the biggest wide receiving core, but they presented speed matchups the Lions have not had to defend since the 49ers in week 2 in their aggressive, man-to-man base scheme. The Lions could not keep up with David Moore, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin for four quarters giving up nearly 300 yards in the air.
The Lions couldn’t get off the field on third down against Seattle either. They give up six conversions on 12 attempts. Way too high of a percentage to be successful on defense. Russel Wilson time and time again found an open receiver on third down. The Lions had no answer for tight trips bunch sets and their short, intermediate passing game.
Man coverage is a great defense to run if a team has a stellar pass rush to support them. The Lions have not had that at their disposal for seven games now. With the Vikings, Bears, Panthers, Bears again and Rams being the next five games for Detroit, they better figure out a way to get successful on defense if they want to win any of those games. Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton and Jared Goff will light up the Lions’ secondary if given a ton of time in the pocket. A lot to be proven to get the Lion faithful excited again.
The good defensively
The only person that showed up to play on defense on Sunday was mike linebacker, Jarrad Davis. He ran side-to-sideline, fit his run gaps well and tackled in the open field. Each week he continues to get better despite his inconsistency of the men up front protecting him. For a second-year player, something he does extremely well is playing with his hands to fight off blockers. He very rarely allows offensive lineman to get their hands inside and control the block. If Damon Harrison can live up to his hype of a solidified run stuffer as he did in New York as a two gap noise, and A’shawn Robinson anchoring the three technique spot, expect to see Davis in the Pro Bowl this year.
Matt Patricia and the Lions still control their destiny in the NFC North, but top notch football in all three phases of the game must happen to even hold a chance in their division.
Featured image courtesy of Detroit Free Press
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