Is It Time For The Detroit Lions To Panic Yet?
In short... yes. ESPECIALLY after this weekend's outing in New England, it's clear now that, despite all the right moves in some areas, the Lions are in desperate need of some help.
But where can we find that help? Well... we need to identify the failures first.
By all accounts, Dan Campbell's heart is in the right place. He knows football, he knows what it's like to be on the field. Even in these tough times, he somehow finds ways to rally the team a little... granted, it's not enough to win games, but they do still like and respect him.
But something we've seen in the past with "player" coaches is a missing component of command... that kind of "fatherly" aspect you can't get from one of your direct peers.
If my best friend were to walk up to me after doing something stupid and tell me he was "disappointed" in me, I'd probably laugh it off. If my Father did that, though... a whole different story. And I think that's what's missing from this Lions team on the sideline.
As an assistant coach, you can get away with that from time to time. Those coaches are meant to be a bit of a buffer between the guy running things, and what happens between the hashes.
Even watching Hard Knocks (I told you not to buy the hype!), you can see that Dan Campbell wants to lead by example. He's doing up-downs with the team, working out with them, participating with them on their level... on THEIR level.
Campbell has to realize he's not a player anymore and step away from that mentality. He has to be a Father Figure on the field. There's really nothing wrong with most of the play-calling on the field. It's just a respect toward the top spot on the sideline that seems to be missing.
What's the solution? Two answers: Campbell grows up, or they move on... which would be a shame, because as far as the staff he's assembled underneath him, they're all pretty great. Should a new head coach come in, they usually bring in their own guys if they can.
It's time we address Jared Goff. I recognize that before the season started, I listed him as a possible Fantasy Football asset... keyword "Possible."
He has made some incredible plays and has moments of brilliance. I mean, credit where it's due, until this past weekend, he was literally quarterbacking the highest-scoring offense in the league... but with only one win.
He's been in the league since 2016, so seven years of either being "the guy," or backing up "the guy" to become a veteran quarterback.
Except, he's not performing like a Veteran QB should.
LOTS of mistakes misreads, missed passes, missed opportunities, and most importantly, no gas in the tank at the end of games to finish. There's still this mentality around him like he's still young in the league when he's not.
Aside from the blowout 29-0 loss to the Patriots this past weekend, the Lions have lost their first four games by a combined 10 points. But there's a point when "close enough" isn't good enough anymore.
It's clear there's talent on the team. Amon-Ra St. Brown has been putting up insane yardage, and when he's healthy, D'Andre Swift can be a force to reckon with barreling through the trenches. Even with injuries to the offensive stars of the team, Jamaal Willams and Josh Reynolds have stepped up to continue that offensive momentum. T.J. Hockenson is a reliable target, and DJ Chark is a welcome route-running option.
It's just crazy to think that with an offense that's putting up 30-40 points a game, they just can't put away the games. And as seen with so many other teams in the league, that's a direct representation of leadership. Not just the coaching staff on the sideline, but also the quarterback on the field.
Goff is fine, maybe better than your average backup in the NFL, but he's not "The Guy" when it comes to stepping on a team's throat and putting the game away.
So what's the solution here? I hate to say it, because I genuinely enjoy watching Goff play sometimes... but ya gotta move on. There's not a lot they could do this season, aside from giving backup Nate Sudfield a shot (It's working for Cooper Rush in Dallas right now). But Goff still, unfortunately, seems like the best option for now.
After the season, though, the Lions should go FULL BORE into recruiting a player like Lamar Jackson away from Baltimore, who has voiced some frustration with the organization.
Jackson, or at least, a QB LIKE Jackson would add additional run options, and he's a better passer than Goff. You thought the offense was good as it is? Put in a Lamar Jackson, and see what it can do. Defenses would be on their heels the whole game.
It's tough to say anything different can be done at defense because the Lions have added some BIG pieces at Linebacker. Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Woods, and Chase Lucas, are all REALLY good assets on the team. It's just that secondary with the safeties and the defensive interior that's still lacking.
This is one area where I'll give the Lions a pass. Key players are doing their part, it's the rest of the squad that needs to step up, and so far, they can't match the level of play that players like Hutchinson and Woods are putting out.
What's the solution? Patience. The defense will come along, but it certainly needs to step it up a notch and show that it can improve, rather than take steps backward like it did this past weekend.