After catching at least six passes per game and having four 100-yard receiving performances in a six-game stretch from Weeks 6-12, the last two weeks have been uncharacteristically under-productive for Lions third-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
He's totaled five receptions and 70 receiving yards combined the last two weeks vs. New Orleans and Chicago. He did have a touchdown Week 13 against the Saints, but this is a two-game stretch we're not used to seeing from one of the most consistently productive receivers in the game over the last two and a half seasons. The last time St. Brown went two consecutive games without catching at least five passes was Weeks 5-6 last year in losses to New England and Dallas.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff said Tuesday defenses are focusing in on St. Brown more and it's up to him to get his Pro Bowl receiver more involved.
"It's what good players get," Goff said. "Good players get doubles often and he's gotten that at times this year and sometimes he's able to beat the double and it doesn't really matter, but yeah trying to get him the ball in different ways."
Goff targeted St. Brown six times Sunday in Chicago and the two only connected twice as Goff had a season-low 161 passing yards and the Lions' offense recorded a season-low 267 total yards.
"Yeah, you'd love to get him going," Goff said. "I think he's doing a great job. He's been very accountable of things that he feels like he can do better and then for me as well, I'm very much just talking to him about ways that I want to try to do better for him and get him the ball in certain ways a little bit better than we have in the last couple weeks.
"But he's one of the best guys I've ever been around and have no doubts that he's going to be just fine, and we'll finish this season off pretty well."
Third-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs has started every game opposite Cam Sutton at the No. 2 cornerback spot this season. Jacobs has a career-high three interceptions on the season, but he's also been credited with allowing seven touchdowns in his coverage area and opposing passers have a 107.8 passer rating when throwing at him, per Pro Football Focus statistics.
The Lions signed veteran cornerback Kindle Vildor off their practice squad last week and rotated him into the game some in place of Jacobs in Chicago. Vildor played 17 snaps to Jacobs' 53. Vildor gave up three receptions in the game for just 11 total yards. Jacobs was also credited with allowing three catches but for 57 yards and a 38-yard touchdown.
It sounds like Detroit could continue to split reps between the two moving forward.
"Yeah, I thought it was solid," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Vildor's performance against the Bears. "He did some good things for us. There are a few things that just getting up to speed with our terminology, how we do things that we've got to get him caught up a little bit more on, but all in all, I thought he was what we thought he would be.
"He's competitive, he's smart and he's pretty crafty. So, yeah, I still see him and Jerry (Jacobs) kind of working in there a little bit together."
View photos of the starters for the Denver Broncos.
WHAT BRONCOS DO WELL
The Lions will try to get back to their winning ways this week, but it won't be easy against a surging Denver Broncos team.
Veteran quarterback Russell Wilson is back to playing the kind of football that made him a consistent Pro Bowler in Seattle. The Broncos' offense is running the ball well, not turning it over and hitting on big plays when the opportunity arises.
Detroit's defense will certainly have their hands full Saturday night at Ford Field. What has Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone seen so far on tape in the matchup this week?
"I think they are not turning the ball over a lot from what I can tell," he said. "They set up the play-action game with Russell and kind of doing what he does best. That's really what (head coach) Sean (Payton) and his offenses are always good at putting his players in the best position to succeed."
Defensively over the past seven games – in which the Broncos are 6-1 – their defense has allowed 111 points or 15.9 points per game. In the first six games when they started 1-5, they were allowing 198 points or 33.0 ppg. They've also forced 18 turnovers over their last seven games.