The Detroit Lions will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak later today as division foe Green Bay comes into Ford Field looking snap their own four-game skid. Here are five things to watch out for in today's NFC North matchup:
1. FIRST GAME WITHOUT HOCKENSON
The Lions traded veteran tight end T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota ahead of Tuesday's NFL trade deadline, which means the team will be looking for others to step up and fill the production void. Hockenson led the team through seven games with 395 receiving yards, and his three receiving touchdowns were tied with Amon-Ra St. Brown for the team lead.
Second-year tight end Brock Wright and rookie tight end James Mitchell will be asked to play bigger roles. Wright was very steady the last five games last season filling in for Hockenson after he suffered a thumb injury. Mitchell said he’s feeling great and ready for an increased workload after a slow start to the season while rehabbing a college knee injury. St. Brown is also likely to handle more of the load in the passing game, but it will take an entire team effort to fill the void left by Hockenson's departure.
2. SECONDARY CHANGES
The team relieved defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant of his duties this week, a result of Detroit's inconsistent play in the secondary. Detroit's defense is allowing 421.3 yards per game to opponents and their 266.4 passing yards allowed through the air ranks 27th.
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said this week he's taken on a much bigger role in the secondary since Pleasant's departure. Safeties coach Brian Duker has taken over defensive backs coaching duties for Pleasant.
If the Lions are going to have any success today against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company, they must eliminate the missed assignments and blown coverages that have plagued them this season and make Rodgers and the Packers' 22nd rankled passing offense earn their gains.
3. JACOBS TIME
Speaking of the secondary, after getting beat up pretty good against the Dolphins last week (382 yards and three scores), it will be interesting to see what kind of changes Glenn might make to personnel back there. Safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Mike Hughes are back from injury after missing the Miami game and could fit back into the mix.
Glenn also said this week we'll see more of second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who's played just one defensive snap the last two weeks. Jacobs has been getting his legs under him after rehabbing a torn ACL suffered last December but looks to be in line this week for more playing time. Jacobs earned a starting role last season and played pretty darn well with a physical style of play.
4. SECOND-HALF OFFENSE
Detroit's offense has failed to score a second-half point in three consecutive weeks. Turnovers, penalties and just overall inconsistent play have all been culprits. The Lions have been outscored 48-0 in the second half of their last three contests.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and quarterback Jared Goff must find a way to make the right adjustments and find a way to get out of their own way to keep the pressure on the Packers today in the third and fourth quarters by scoring points.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, November 3, 2022.
5. SWIFT USAGE
It's been a tough start to the season for third year running back D’Andre Swift. Not from a production standpoint necessarily, because when he's been on the field, he's been good, but injuries have kept him out of three games, and he's been limited in a handful of others.
The Lions listed Swift as questionable to play today, but the expectation is he'll suit up after head coach Dan Campbell said Swift is continuing to progress through ankle and shoulder injuries and that Swift feels better than he did a week ago when he played just 33 snaps and had 10 touches against Miami.
The Lions are a much more dangerous offense with Swift in the backfield, and when they can isolate him against linebackers in the passing game. Even as limited as he was last week, he still caught a touchdown pass. Swift is another one of those players who could help fill some of the production void left by the Hockenson trade.