Advertising

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What do Lions need to do to perform better in Week 2?

During 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: Let’s not sugar coat what happened Monday night. Besides Quandre Diggs’ interception and the play of second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay, there was not a whole lot of good about that performance in all three phases.

As to your question, the offense has to play a ton better to give this team any chance to win in San Francisco. Throwing five picks and putting the defense in some really bad field positions simply can’t happen against the 49ers. For how many times the defense was forced to start on their side of the 50-yard line, it’s amazing that game didn’t get even more out of hand.

Scoring 10 points on offense won’t cut it in San Francisco. That unit has to be a whole lot better.

20man: Talking with the players during the first open locker room of the week on Wednesday, I think they had the right mindset of Monday being one game. It's now in the rearview mirror, and there are 15 more opportunities to perform better than they did in the season opener.

I also got the sense that Matthew Stafford was pretty ticked off after that game with the way he played. He told the team that one was on him, though anyone who watched the game knew it was a complete team loss.

Having been around Stafford for 10 years and having watched him since he entered the league, I’d be a little surprised if he didn’t come out Sunday with some purpose and play better. That, obviously, will give the Lions a better chance to win.

20man: I think when you’re a new head coach, you can’t really take that first deep breath until the first victory comes. With it, some of the weight comes off the shoulders and it reinforces the belief in what you’re doing and the schemes you’re implementing.

Getting a win also reinforces to the players that what they’re being taught from a fundamentals, techniques, schemes and game plan perspective is putting them in the best position to be successful.

In that regard, getting that first win will be big for Patricia and this football team.

20man: OK, I’m with you on the 3rd and 1 call. Signing LeGarrette Blount, drafting Frank Ragnow and Kerryon Johnson, and keeping a fullback on the roster were a direct result of not being able to convert enough of those plays last season. Line up in the 'I' formation and get a yard.

As for the run game as a whole, I thought they could have featured Johnson more than they did. He’s been pretty good so far, and he was having the most success early in that game. I know the Lions have a running back by committee approach, but I’ve always been a believer in sticking with the hot hand until the defense adjusts.

In the second half, the game got out of hand and they were forced to abandon the run to try and throw to get back into the game. That’s part of the reason the run totals were what they were.

The 49ers' defense ranked fifth in the NFL last season forcing 53 rushes for negative yards. They are a physical bunch upfront, and the Lions have their work cut for them trying to run the ball this week.

Minnesota rushed for 116 yards (3.6 average) on the 49ers last week.

20man: Unfortunately, watching training camp and the preseason, that wasn’t Robinson.

Sylvester Williams, Ricky Jean Francois and even rookie Da’Shawn Hand were consistently more productive throughout camp and the preseason than Robinson was. That’s a bit disappointing given his size, athleticism and knowledge of a two-gap scheme coming from Alabama.

Maybe being inactive Monday lights a fire under Robinson and we'll see some good play from him moving forward.

20man: Cooter has had his troubles implementing and executing a consistent run game since taking over as offensive coordinator in the middle of the 2015 season. The numbers show that, and last week wasn’t a good start to the 2018 season, though I’m not willing to write off possible improvements after just one game.

Consider this for the crowd calling for the Lions to move on from Cooter: Since he took over as coordinator, Stafford has ranked fifth in the NFL with a plus-47 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That includes Monday’s four-interception performance.

The only players in the NFL with a higher TD-to-INT ratio over that same period are Tom Brady (+61), Russell Wilson (+57), Aaron Rodgers (+53) and Drew Brees (+50).

Stafford ranked in the top six in every statistical passing category last year.

Has the run game been an issue? Certainly. Do Cooter and the Lions need to figure out a solution? Absolutely.

Let’s see how this run game looks after a few more games before we make any conclusions.

20man: Blount has been a featured back in this league. The last time was in New England in 2016, when he ran for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has a career 4.4 yards per carry average, and has recorded 51 touchdowns. He’s been productive in a featured role before.

That being said, I like everything I’ve seen from Johnson thus far, and wouldn’t be surprised if he takes on more carries sooner rather than later. He finished with five carries for 17 yards in 16 snaps Monday night vs. the Jets, but gained an average of 3.2 yards after contact. Johnson just finds a way to get positive yards, and that’s going to make it hard to keep him off the field if that continues.

20man: It’s a fair question because the Lions do seem to get into a better rhythm when they go uptempo. The problem with doing it for long stretches is it can wear on players physically, especially the offensive line and the receivers.

The second reason why teams usually go uptempo for short stretches or as a change of pace is because if it’s not successful in gaining first downs and moving the football, you’re putting a lot of pressure on the defense to go right back onto the field. It can be tough on them physically throughout the course of a 60-minute game, and wear them down as well.

I think there has to be a balance when to use it and when not to.

20man: Stafford was a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday. He told reporters Wednesday he’s good to go. He was listed on the injury report with a shin injury, but it’s nothing that will keep him out of the starting lineup on Sunday.

I expect Stafford to play a lot better than he did Monday.

20man: We have to keep in mind that Frank Ragnow is a rookie, and there’s going to be some ups and downs along the way this year. After watching him during every open OTA, minicamp and training camp practice, and then three times in the preseason and once so far in the regular season, I’m pretty confident there will be more ups than downs.

There are adjustments that have to take place at this level. Those guys on the other side of the ball are really good, and he’ll see more of the same this week with DeForest Buckner and Co.

Related Content

Advertising