STATS PACK: What's going wrong in first quarter?

Posted Dec 6, 2017

For whatever reason, the Lions have really struggled in the first quarter of games this season.

For whatever reason, and there have been many, the first quarter has been a nightmare 15 minutes for the Detroit Lions for nearly all of this season.

The Lions have scored just 30 points total in the first quarter of 12 games this season. That comes out to less than a field goal on average. Only Cleveland (29), Miami (29), Buffalo (23) and San Francisco (22) have scored fewer points in the first 15 minutes of games.

The problem is compounded when opponents have scored a league-high 76 points against Detroit in the first quarter. It's led to a lot of early deficits Detroit's had to battle through.

Over the last four games, it’s been particularly bad for the Lions. They've fallen behind by double digits in the first half in each of their past four games. Against Cleveland and Chicago, they were able to fight back and win. Against Minnesota and Baltimore, not so much.

The Lions have been outscored 36-3 in the first quarter over their last four games. It’s just too hard to come from behind and win that many times in this league, especially against good opponents.

“Something you’re going to want to get straightened away, there’s no doubt about that, because we don’t want to start that way,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said Monday of the slow starts.

“But I think too, you look back on I think 23 of the – or 24 of the 33 games or whatever we’ve won around here, we’ve come from behind in every single one of them.

“But yeah, we’d like to be able to start better, but one thing we’re not going to do is let it affect our psyche in that regard. But we got to get better, we’re just not good enough right now and we got to keep fighting to get it, you know. That’s the name of the game, that’s our challenge as a staff and as a team.”

Now, the Lions have scored the third most points in the fourth quarter (108), which partially makes up for the slow starts, but that’s a tough formula to win games in this league. Fall behind, sometimes big, and then have to fight tooth and nail to come back. Any slip up in that equation and it’s tough to win, which we’ve seen against good opponents.

Detroit ranks fourth in second quarter points scored (106) and eighth in third quarter points (70).

For whatever reason, the first quarter has been this team's nemesis. Will it continue to be for the next month?

Here’s a look at some other key stats – good and bad – after 13 weeks of football:

  • Only Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been sacked more times (47) than Matthew Stafford (39).
  • Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. has 11 catches of 25-plus yards on the year. Only Antonio Brown (12), Brandin Cooks (12) and DeAndre Hopkins (12) have more.  
  • Not one Lions defender ranks in the top 25 in the NFL in either total tackles, sacks or stuffs.
  • Detroit’s offense is averaging 8.70 yards to go for a first down on second down. Only Buffalo (8.71) and Chicago (8.98) are worse.
  • Linebacker Nick Bellore scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown pass in Baltimore Sunday. He is the first defensive player in the NFL to catch a touchdown pass since Texans LB J.J. Watt vs. Tennessee Nov. 20, 2014. He’s the first linebacker to do so since the Chiefs’ Mike Vrabel at Houston Oct. 17, 2010.
  • The average starting field position for a Lions drive is the 29.2-yard line. That ranks in the top 10 in the NFL.
  • Detroit’s allowed 80 giveaway points, the third most in the league.
  • Matthew Stafford has a passer rating inside the opponent 30-yard line of 108.4. That’s fourth best in the NFL. Stafford continues to lead the league with a passer rating of 129.7 when he throws the ball at least 21 yards in the air. His league-best 12 completions of 40-plus yards now rank as the second-most in a single season during his career (16 in 2011).
  • Detroit has the second most 20-plus-yard plays (45) over the last eight games. Only New Orleans (51) has more.
  • The Lions' defense is No. 1 in the NFL in the red zone on third down. Opponents are converting just 18.8 percent of the time. The league average is 38.8.
  • Opponents have had 22 1st and goal drives inside the 5-yard line. That’s seven more than the next team on the list, the New York Jets (15). Of those, opponents have scored a touchdown 16 times, the most in the NFL.