This season hasn’t gone the way anyone in Detroit had thought or hoped it would. The Lions are 5-10 and closing out their season Sunday in Green Bay with only pride and draft position on the line.
It certainly wasn’t the season second-year linebacker Jarrad Davis was expecting, and that’s a cause for motivation in everything he does from this point forward.
“It’s a huge motivating factor just because you go out this whole season and you put the work in the offseason and now you come back and you have this bad taste in your mouth,” Davis said Thursday. “You have to go home and sit down and watch playoff football.”
Playoff football that Davis will not be a part of for the second straight season. Just like last year, he plans to watch as much of it as he can as another motivation tool for himself. The Lions didn’t do enough of what they needed to do throughout the course of the year to be among those six playoff teams in the NFC. That’s something that will eat at Davis all offseason.
“I just have to go home and suck it up and watch those (playoff) games,” he said. “It’s going to suck, but at the same time it’s like, ‘Hey, it’s ball.’ Every Saturday and Sunday, whenever the wild card starts, I’m excited. I love watching ball.”
Davis has made some big improvements from year one to two, and has been a good fit in Matt Patricia’s defense. He is one of only five players in the league to have 90-plus tackles and 5.0 sacks this season. He’s improved the pass-rushing aspect of his game, and continues to improve in coverage and as a tackler.
So, when the playoffs begin next weekend around the NFL, Davis will be watching, analyzing and gritting his teeth, mad he’s not a part of it.
He’ll use it as fuel for the offseason in the hopes that maybe he can be one of the reasons this Lions team is part of the playoffs in 2019.
STAFFORD FEELING BETTER
The Lions have listed quarterback Matthew Stafford as a full participant in practice this week after he was limited by a back injury the previous few weeks. Stafford confirmed Thursday that his back is feeling better heading into the season finale Sunday in Green Bay.
Stafford has not thrown for multiple touchdowns in six straight games and the Lions haven’t scored more than 17 points in five straight games.
Asked Thursday how much the back has contributed to those numbers, Stafford downplayed it.
“I don’t know, I think everyone is battling stuff at this point in the year,” he said. “In NFL football, you get to this point in the season, everyone is battling something. I’m just no different than anyone else.”
The conversation quickly turned away from the field and Sunday’s game, as Stafford was asked about offensive coordinator Jim Bob and this week potentially being their last game together.
“I have no control over that or do I know what’s going on there,” he said. “I know that he and I are still working hand in hand right now trying to figure out how to beat the Packers. That’s the biggest thing on our mind right now.”
He later said he thought Cooter was a smart coach and enjoyed working under him.
Stafford was also asked about trade rumors, and reiterated his desire to remain in Detroit to finish his career with the Lions.
“I think there’s something special about a guy being able to play his entire career in one place,” he said. “Not many guys get to do that these days. Would love to be one of those guys.”
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENTS
Back in early November the Lions fired special teams coordinator Joe Marciano after penalties and poor coverage were plaguing Detroit’s special teams units the first half of the season.
Since Devin Fitzsimmons has taken over for Marciano, the penalties are down, the coverage has been much better and the players on those units say it’s a credit to Fitzsimmons’ coaching style.
“Fitz knows the guys and he utilizes talent well,” core special teamer Miles Killebrew said. “He has his own schemes that he throws in there and I would say the guys are responding well to his leadership, for sure. He’s a player’s coach. He knows how to appeal to the guys and it’s exciting to see him lead us out there every Sunday.”
We’ll see this offseason if that earned Fitzsimmons the job permanently moving forward.