The Detroit Lions were back to work Monday following just their third loss of the season on Thanksgiving to the Green Bay Packers. The Lions now hit the road for two straight weeks with a contest in New Orleans against the Saints up first on Sunday. Lions head coach Dan Campbell spoke to the media as he does every Monday, and here are the key questions to come out of that session:
Campbell and the Lions haven't lost two games in a row all season. So, what is the mood in Allen Park to start this week?
Campbell said the Packers game wasn't as bad as he thought it would be after watching the tape, though he said there were obvious things they need to correct this week. No. 1 on Campbell's list in the turnovers. They've turned the ball over seven times the last two games and have only gotten one takeaway over that stretch. Campbell said no other issue is as great as correcting the giveaways and lack of takeaways right now.
When it comes to getting more takeaways, Campbell said that has to be the emphasis of the second defender to the football. First player makes sure they wrap up and start to bring the ball carrier down but the second and third players have to be all about the football.
Overall Campbell seemed pretty confident his players would bounce back this week.
"Man, I'm not getting worried," Campbell said. "I love this. I'm serious. I love this and I love that it's doom and gloom outside of our building. We have six to go and an unbelievable opportunity and I love it. I really do. This is what we find out we're made of."
How did the Lions come out of Thanksgiving on the injury front?
Linebacker Alex Anzalone left the Thanksgiving game with an injury and Campbell said Monday he could be out 'a little bit.' Anzalone is a defensive captain and Detroit's leading tackler. His absence for any amount of time would be a big loss for this defense.
Guard Jonah Jackson has missed the last two games with a wrist injury, and Campbell said he's assuming Jackson doesn't play until Jackson tells him otherwise.
Any update on rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker?
The Lions were always treating this season as kind of a redshirt year for the rookie third-round pick who has been on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list all season after tearing his ACL last year in college.
While on NFI Hooker hasn't been allowed to practice, per NFL rules. Campbell said they could potentially take Hooker off NFI and activate him to the 53-man roster this week in order to work with him at practice the last six weeks of the season.
"By rules we can't coach him, so that's why," Campbell said. "We can have him in meetings, but he can't be out there and going through any fundamental work. He has to just stand there. So that's where it helps. To be able to actually do individual work with him. Have him take a snap. That's why it's big. It would be nice to be able to do some of those things with him."
Campbell said he and GM Brad Holmes talked about it last week and that could be something that happens this week before they hit the practice field on Wednesday.
What were the issues that plagued Detroit upfront along their offensive line vs. the Packers?
It was an uncharacteristic performance upfront against the Packers, particularly in the pass game, for arguably one of the best offensive lines in football. Quarterback Jared Goff was hit 12 times and sacked three times.
"We can do a better job of helping each other out," Campbell said of the o-line play. "One of the areas we've done a good job of is that unit always works as one. The teams that are able to function better that's what they do well."
Campbell said there were a couple times they got caught in a twist from the Packers' d-line and weren't on the same page and didn't pass it off correctly. There were a couple times they set with too much depth. He also said there were times when Goff had to get rid of the ball quicker.
Campbell said it's stuff they'll learn from. They'll need to if they have to turn to Kayode Awosika or Colby Sorsdal again at guard if Jackson can't play.
Is Campbell looking forward to going back to New Orleans and playing in the Superdome?
Campbell was the assistant head coach and tight ends coach in New Orleans from 2016-20 before coming to Detroit to be the Lions' head coach in 2021. Campbell expects an unbelievable environment on Sunday, and he knows better than most how loud that place can get.
"I have a lot. Being a part of that team, I've won 40 games in there with those teams and the staff we were a part of," Campbell said of his favorite memories of the Superdome. "So, it's special. It's a little bit like going home. That's why I'm fired up to go back there because I know winning in that building."