FIRST DOWN: A TALE OF TWO HALVES
In two games to begin the 2021 season, the Detroit Lions have played two good halves of football and two not so good halves of football.
Last week, in the season-opening loss to San Francisco, a bad first half on both sides of the ball led to a 31-10 halftime deficit. Detroit played much better in the second half, outscoring the 49ers 23-10, but the hole they put themselves in the first 30 minutes was ultimately too much to overcome.
Fast forward one week and it was the same story in Green Bay, but switch the halves. Detroit played well Monday night for the first 30 minutes and led the Packers 17-14 at halftime. But turnovers and missed opportunities in the second half led to a 21-0 second-half advantage for Green Bay and an eventual 35-17 victory.
"Second half just kept stalling ourselves out," quarterback Jared Goff said after the game.
Whether it be a slow start like last week, or stalling out in the second half Monday night because of penalties and turnovers, the next evolution for this young football team is to find a way to play more consistent football for 60 minutes and not just 30. Until they do that, the final outcome will continue to look similar.
SECOND DOWN: O-LINE PLAY
The Lions are 0-2 and need to play better in a lot of areas if they're going to get their first win of the season sooner rather than later, but there have been some encouraging things surrounding this young roster after two weeks. Tight end T.J. Hockenson has shown he's a dangerous threat with touchdowns in each of Detroit's first two contests. The running back duo of D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams has looked good two weeks in a row.
But maybe the most encouraging thing of all has been the play of Detroit's offensive line. That unit was good last week in the loss to San Francisco and they were solid again Monday in Green Bay, even playing without left tackle Taylor Decker. There were times in the first half where Goff had time to go through three and sometimes four reads without being pressured or touched.
Even when the Lions got behind and turned one dimensional on offense in the second half, the Lions' front held up pretty well. They were moving the line of scrimmage, especially in the first half, and Green Bay finished with just one sack on the night and zero tackles for loss.
"Felt like we were rolling," center Frank Ragnow said of the play of the offensive line in the first half when the Lions scored on three of their four possessions. "There's some things to clean up, but we have to put two haves together. That's the frustrating part."
Still, the offensive line was expected to be a strength of this team coming in, and so far that has been the case.
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Week 2 game at Lambeau Field on Monday, Sept. 20 in Green Bay, WI.
THIRD DOWN: CHALLENGING THE OFFENSE
Campbell directly challenged his offense after Monday's loss.
After playing well in the first half and leading 17-14 at halftime, Detroit was shut out in the second half. Turnovers, untimely penalties and just inconsistent play overall on that side of the ball plagued Detroit in the second half.
"I put this on our offense," Campbell said after the game. "Offensively, we have to be able to outscore a team like this. That's just how I see it. Why? Because it turned into that kind of game. That's why. To me, the onus is on your offense.
"There's going to be games as we continue to improve where the defense is going to have to step up and win a game for us."
Detroit has some weapons on offense, but they are not good enough on that side of the ball yet to overcome mistakes and turnovers. It's just not a talented enough unit right now to rebound from those.
It's also not an offense built to throw the ball 40 times a game, which they've had to do the first two weeks. This offense is at its best when it's balanced and can use the play-action passing game.
We'll see next week with a talented Baltimore team coming to Ford Field if the offensive players take their coach's challenge to heart and play better.
FOURTH DOWN: 4TH AND 1 CALL
Trailing 21-17 in the third quarter and facing a 4th and 1 at the Packers' 25-yard line, Campbell went for the first down instead of electing to try for the three points.
There's no issue with the call. Campbell is an aggressive coach, and the game was trending towards the Lions needing to score touchdowns instead of field goals to stay in it, but the call for a shotgun pass in that situation can certainly be debated, especially with how well Detroit's offensive line was playing up to that point.
"We were hoping we'd be able to get a single with T.J. (Hockenson) and if not Q (Quintez Cephus) has to win ... you're hoping it's T.J.," Campbell said when asked about the call after the game.
"You're hoping you're going to get that to T.J. and it didn't work out. We still got a 1-on-1 and guys have to win and it didn't work out. It's easy to second-guess it, certainly, but it didn't work out."
The Packers did a nice job covering Hockenson on the play, and instead Goff threw it out to Cephus wide and it fell incomplete. The Packers scored on their next possession to make it a two-score advantage. Detroit never got any closer on the scoreboard.