The wide receiver position was a question mark for the Detroit Lions coming into the season. Eight weeks in, the lack of production from the receiver group as a whole continues to be an issue for the Lions.
The Lions have gotten good performances here and there from Quintez Cephus (now on IR) and Kalif Raymond, but consistently the group has underperformed over the first two months.
Tyrell Williams being on IR the last seven weeks due to a concussion hasn't helped, but players like Trinity Benson and KhaDarel Hodge haven't been stepping up.
One player Dan Campbell thinks can be part of the solution coming out of the bye is rookie fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown, who had three catches for 46 yards in Sunday's 44-6 loss to the Eagles, which doesn't include a 35-yard catch called back due to a formation penalty.
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles Week 8 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Oct. 31 in Detroit, MI.
"Well, look, I think we need to look long and hard at (Amon-Ra) St. Brown," Campbell said of ways in which he'll attempt to correct some of his team's offensive issues moving forward.
"There, for example, are there things that we can use him, that we can do that really will help him help us. Maybe that's the best way to put it. We have to start looking at some of these guys."
The Lions know tight end T.J. Hockenson, running back D’Andre Swift and Raymond can help them. Is there a better way to get St. Brown involved? Are there more targets out there available for him?
"There's no secret that (Jared) Goff trusts (T.J.) Hockenson," Campbell said. "Hockenson gets open, and he makes plays and he's reliable. But everybody knows that, so every team we play knows that and you can only go back to that well so long.
"And we know (D'Andre) Swift can help us, we just – we couldn't get him going (Sunday). Now you have to find some production from your receivers and I just go back to – I still don't think we've turned over every leaf. To be able to look at it as a whole now that we're eight weeks in and see where we're at – should we quit shying away from some things and actually go the other way with it. Maybe we need to – that's all. I mean we're going to look at everything."
BYE WEEK WORK
Teams like to use the bye week as a time to rest up, reset and get away for a little bit. But when a team is 0-8 at the bye, there needs to be some work done to identify and fix the problems.
"You'd like to be able to rest a little bit," Goff said. "We've got some work to do. That's the bottom line and it's the challenge we're tasked with right now. It's just what we need to handle."
The nice thing about where Detroit's bye falls this year vs. years past is there's enough tape through eight games to have a good idea what works, what doesn't, and then start to formulate the plan to fix it.
Hockenson, who led Detroit Sunday with 10 receptions for 89 yards, said this week needs to be about reflection on the first eight games and finding ways to improve.
It's a big week for Campbell and his coaching staff too. They have to take a deep dive into the first eight weeks to find out what – or maybe who – isn't working out like they'd hoped.
"Here's the good news – the good news is we're at a bye and I have about a week now where I can really, really dive into this and just take it for what it is," Campbell said. "We know a lot of the issues, but now I can sit back and say, 'Alright, let me look at all of it. Let me look at exactly where we're deficient, where we're not, what we can help'.
"And I go back to this, 'Where can we, where can we help ourselves schematically, where can we help these players we have be better than they are. Where are we better suited to put some players than where they're at right now or ask what we're asking them to do.'"
FIRST FOR JEFFERSON
Rookie running back Jermar Jefferson was the only one of the Lions 2021 draft class to not make a real impact in the first eight games of the season.
Jefferson's been a healthy scratch most of the first two months, but with Jamaal Williams ruled out Sunday because of a thigh injury, Jefferson got his first touches of the year. He rushed twice for six yards, including Detroit's only touchdown of the game, an 8-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. He also caught four passes for 23 yards. Not a bad debut for the rookie.