The Detroit Lions have fallen behind by double digits in the first quarter in each of their last three games. They were able to come back and win two of those contests vs. Cleveland and Chicago after falling behind 10-0, but fell to Minnesota when they couldn't overcome a 13-0 deficit.
What is to blame for the slow starts of late?
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell put the blame on himself and his coaches.
"It's all coaching," Caldwell said. "It's never anything else other than coaching. It's our job to get them going. It's not the players' job."
It's still on the players to pass, catch, tackle and not fumble the football, which have all been issues in the slow starts the last three weeks, but Caldwell makes a good point.
"It's something we have to get straightened away," he said. "We have to start better. You work at it, you tinker, you look at some different options and you go ahead and try to get that done. We are not where we need to be in that particular area."
What is the expectation for veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney this week?
The Lions claimed Freeney last Wednesday off waivers from Seattle. He wasn't ready to play one day later in Detroit's Thanksgiving Day Game, but could be part of the game plan this week in Baltimore.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Freeney's career totals include 341 total tackles, 125.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 16 pass defenses. He originally entered the NFL in 2002 after being drafted in the first round (11th overall) by the Colts out of Syracuse.
"A guy that's been around ... still got juice," Caldwell said of his former player in Indianapolis. "If you take a look, he's been productive every time he's been on the field and we'll expect to be productive for us as well.
"He'll be able to do something for us."
How do the Lions get more production from their run game?
First the Lions have to identify what their biggest issues have been in that department and then figure out how they go about solving them. Is it a scheme problem? A player problem? Caldwell won't divulge whatever conclusions they've made to the media, other than to say both areas – scheme and performance – are being looked at.
View the best stylized images from the Detroit Lions' Thanksgiving Day matchup vs. Minnesota Vikings.
"You have realistically look at it and examine both," Caldwell said. "That's always what we do. That's part of coaching. We have to make a decision and determination on whether or not it is more scheme, maybe guys can't execute what you're asking them to do, or is it something else -- strictly performance.
"There's always a delicate balancing act there. We have to be able to get them to a point where they're comfortable with what we're doing, but also where we're able to execute it extremely well."
The Lions rank 30th in the NFL in rushing (78.3 yards per game). They have the second most runs of negative yards (41) on the year. That's more of an offensive line problem.
However, Ameer Abdullah ranks 22nd in rushing with 505 yards, even though he has the 14th-most attempts (150).
What has Marvin Jones Jr. brought to this offense in his second season?
After an inconsistent first season in Detroit, Jones has been very good in year two with the Lions this season, becoming one of the best deep threats in the league. Jones is second in the NFL with eight touchdown receptions this season.
"He was intent on getting better," Caldwell said of Jones' most recent offseason. "He had his eyes set on improving the things that he could control in terms of route running, things of that nature, understanding the system.
"When he came back, you could tell there was a different crispness to his routes. There was a better, deeper understanding of concepts. And also, just catching the ball in traffic. Things we thought he needed to improve upon and he's been obviously doing all of those things extremely well at this point."