10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Can the Lions' run game get back on track this week?

Throughout the course of the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Quarterback Jared Goff is always the easy answer here, but if Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams plays (he's 50-50 after suffering a calf injury last week) I'd say the play of interior linemen Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Evan Brown are really key for Detroit.

Williams is the Jets leader in sacks (11), quarterback hits (23) and tackles for loss (12), which is rare for a defensive tackle. I put him in the same conversation with Chris Jones and Aaron Donald as the best interior defenders in football.

Jackson and Ragnow are Pro Bowlers, and Brown is no slouch, so it's not a bad matchup for the Lions. Still, the worst pressure a quarterback can face is right up the middle. Williams can wreck a game, he's that good. If he plays, the interior of the Lions' o-line has to play really well for them to get a win.

20man: It's a good point because I feel like the Lions run game hasn't been as crisp as it was earlier in the year.

Detroit is averaging nearly 4.5 yards per carry on the season, but they've been held under 4.0 per carry in four of their last six games during their current 5-1 streak. Goff and the passing game have kind of masked some inconsistencies in the run game over the last month and a half.

The Jets are really good defensively, ranking sixth in points allowed, third in total defense and fourth against the pass, but their numbers against the run are just average. They're allowing 118.8 yards per game on the ground and 4.1 yards per carry on the year.

The Jets' 39.0 sacks are fourth most in the league, so yeah, I think this is a game where head coach Dan Campbell and company probably feel like they have to run the ball more consistently and be more balanced offensively.

20man: Already looking toward the NFL Draft? Enjoy the ride that is meaningful football in December.

This is referring to Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. in the draft with the Rams' pick, which could be a top five pick.

I'm in the camp that a team can never have too many elite edge rushers, and without having really dived into the draft or the prospects just yet, that's what I think Anderson can be. Get Aidan Hutchinson a running mate on the edge to go along with James Houston, Romeo Okwara, Charles Harris, Julian Okwara and company, and the Lions are suddenly pretty scary on the edge.

20man: Let's look at the numbers.

In eight home games, Goff is completing 65.2 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 106.9. Pretty spectacular.

In five road games, he's completing 65.6 percent of his passes, but with just two touchdowns vs. four interceptions and an 81.0 rating. Pretty big difference.

The Lions will need more from Goff on the road because three of their last four are on the road, starting Sunday in New York and then Week 16 in Carolina and Week 18 in Green Bay. I think one thing that has to make you feel better about Goff and the road games moving forward is he finally has all his weapons healthy and available. He hasn't been afforded that for a single road game this season. Let's see how that can make a difference.

Goff was an efficient 17-of-26 passing for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no turnovers in his last road game against the Giants in the same stadium he'll play in Sunday against the Jets. The Lions rushed for four touchdowns in that win over New York Week 10. I'll take a similar performance with the rushing touchdowns.

20man: Nope, but if they keep winning, that Chicago game Jan. 1 or potentially Green Bay Jan. 7 or 8 could be a candidate. I believe the NFL has to announce a flex scheduling change no later than 12 days prior to the game, so that takes Carolina out of the mix.

Plus, Sunday is Christmas. Can a guy enjoy the holiday with his family and not be on the road in Carolina?

20man: I think the Lions' defense and the secondary in particular have played better since defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant was let go. I'd also say the return of cornerback Jerry Jacobs and rookie safety Kerby Joseph settling into his role, have also been factors. I know it was a tough decision for Campbell to let Pleasant go, but it's hard to argue with the results. Sometimes a new voice and new direction is needed.

As for Hockenson, it started to become clear the Lions were not going to be in a spot where they would lock him up long-term with the going rate the top tight ends in the league are currently making and what Hockenson would likely command on the open market. I think this offense is predicated on running the ball, featuring wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot and generating big plays with their outside receivers. I think trading Hockenson has shown us where the strength of this football team really lies on offense.

20man: I wasn't really impressed with Aidan O'Connell watching the Big Ten Championship.

I haven't really started to dig deep into these prospects just yet, the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine will tell me a lot about those guys, but one name that intrigues me is Max Duggan of TCU. I see a lot of Day 2 and early Day 3 projections for him. That guy is tough and he's a winner. Can't have enough of those kind of players on a football team.

20man: Jameson Williams is steadily working his way into the offense more. We saw the reps increase from the Jacksonville game to Minnesota last week. I asked Goff about Williams this week, and he said Williams continues to get more comfortable in the offense and Goff is getting more and more comfortable with him. Expect his reps to keep ticking up.

Count me in the camp that believes Goff, 28, is not only the quarterback of the present in Detroit but the quarterback of the future as well. At least the next couple years. He's played that well. Name a quarterback in the NFC outside of Jalen Hurts who is playing better football than Goff right now. I think that says it right there. As soon as the defense started playing better and Goff didn't feel like he had to force the issue and make every play, the turnovers stopped and this offense took off. The Lions are top 10 in points, total offense and passing. Goff is 28 and under contract for the next two seasons.

While the defense is playing better, I think they can afford to add more talent and depth at all three levels. I wouldn't be the least bit upset (neither would Glenn) if the Lions spent their first two picks and the bulk of their picks overall continuing to add talent and depth to the defense.

20man: I had the exact same thought this week.

The Jets have two pretty good corners on the outside in Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. Michael Carter isn't bad in the slot, but he's not quite at Gardner and Reed's level.

The Jets will play a significant amount of zone defense Sunday, which always lends itself to a crafty slot receiver who can find the soft spots in the short and intermediate routes to see a lot of targets.

Finally, the Jets have 39.0 sacks on the season, fourth most in the league. It's a strength-on-strength matchup against Detroit's offensive line, but when a team can get after the quarterback like the Jets can, there's probably going to be more quick and short passing concepts mixed into the game plan. That has St. Brown written all over it.

20man: It's a fair question. I just think in any profession you're always striving for the mountain top, right? In the football coaching profession the mountain top is obtaining one of only 32 head coaching jobs. In my experience being around NFL coaches, they are an extremely confident and prideful bunch. They seem to always have the utmost confidence in their ability no matter the situation.

Johnson is a really smart football coach and if he joins the interview cycle this offseason he'll be extremely prepared and will know exactly what he'd potentially be walking into and how it fits him. But again, there's only 32 of those jobs and there's no guarantee when the chance to have one will come around.

Related Content

Advertising