FIRST DOWN: NO EXCUSES
Detroit's coaching staff took a hit this week after interim head coach Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and a number of other assistants weren't allowed to coach against Tampa Bay Saturday because of NFL COVID-19 protocols.
Wide receivers coach Robert Prince took over head-coaching duties, and Detroit had new play callers on offense and defense. Losing starting quarterback Matthew Stafford to an ankle injury on the first series of the game also didn't help. In the end, Detroit was no match for Tampa Bay, falling 47-7 to the Bucs at Ford Field.
Credit Prince for not using the coaching shuffle as an excuse for the loss when speaking to reporters after the game.
"Not good enough today from us and it was a little bit of a challenge, obviously, with what was happening. But I guess no excuses," Prince said. "We had our team, they had their team and we weren't good enough today."
Chase Daniel, who replaced Stafford after he left the game in the first quarter, said things happen and the team has to pivot and be able to adjust. They didn't do that today.
SECOND DOWN: STAFFORD'S ABSENCE
We saw last year just how important Stafford is to the Lions' offense. After Stafford suffered a back injury Week 10 in Oakland, the Lions went 0-8 without him the rest of the way.
When Detroit lost Stafford to an ankle injury early Saturday against Tampa Bay, Detroit's offense floundered. Backup Chase Daniel threw for 82 yards on 13 completions and failed to move Detroit into Bucs territory through the first three quarters.
David Blough took over in the fourth quarter, and while he got Detroit into Bucs territory a couple times, Detroit's offense did not score any points, and Blough threw an interception.
"I didn't really do my job as a backup should do," Daniel said. "Come in and move the ball down the field."
Saturday is just another example of just how much Stafford means to this offense and how much work still needs to be done to shape this roster and add depth to the quarterback position behind Stafford.
THIRD DOWN: THIRD DOWN
Punter Jack Fox was a busy man Saturday as Detroit's offense struggled to stay on the field all game against a good Bucs' defense.
The Lions were just 1-of-10 on third down Saturday, and that forced Fox into punting duties eight times, the most he's punted all year.
"Obviously, we have to find a way to stay on the field," Blough said. "I think it's about being good on first and second down, giving ourselves manageable third down situations and putting us in a position to be successful.
"If you can't stay on the field, you make it tougher for your defense, which is what we did. If you can't stay on the field, it obviously makes it tough to score points, especially not getting many explosive (plays). In this league, if you don't convert on third down, it's going to be a long day."
FOURTH DOWN: OKWARA'S NUMBERS
One thing to look forward to next week in Detroit's regular-season finale is to see if defensive end Romeo Okwara can reach double-digit sacks for the season.
Okwara recorded a strip-sack Saturday against Tampa Bay to give him 9.0 sacks on the season, which is a career high. It was his third forced fumble of the year, which ties linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. for the team lead.
Okwara is the second player in franchise history to produce a season with at least 9.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles (Ezekiel Ansah in 2015).
Okwara is a free agent this offseason, and it would be nice for him to head into his first stint at free agency with double-digit sacks.