The Notebook

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NOTEBOOK: Lions' passing game vs. Packers' secondary a matchup to watch

Kenny Golladay is playing some of the best football of his young career right now. Detroit’s third-year wide receiver is looking forward to the challenge Monday night at Lambeau Field going against Green Bay’s talented secondary.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Golladay said Thursday. “You know, competition across the board. I’m excited. Those guys are just getting after it, to be honest. They’re creating a lot of turnovers. So, it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but as long as we just do what we got to do, we should be good. They got good guys on defense, we got good guys on offense.”

Golladay is coming off a two-touchdown performance vs. Kansas City before the bye, and leads Detroit in receptions (19) and touchdowns (4) through four games.

Tasked with trying to contain Golladay and Detroit’s talented pass-catching crew will be a new and improved Packers' secondary.

Green Bay has spent considerable draft and free-agent capital to bolster their defensive backfield over the last couple years, and the Packers are starting to see the fruits of that labor on gameday.

Cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (2018 first-round pick) and Kevin King (2017 second-round pick) and safeties Darnell Savage Jr. (2019 first-round pick) and Adrian Amos (2019 free-agent signing) make up Green Bay's new secondary that’s allowing just 58.2 percent of opponent passes to be completed against them with a 75.9 opponent passer rating. It’s a unit that’s also racked up seven interceptions so far in 2019, tied for second most in the league. 

“I mean they’re a really good defense,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Green Bay this week. “They’ve got guys up front that wreak havoc on the game and guys in the backend that are really sticky in coverage and do a great job when the ball is in there of going and making plays on it. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

It should be a terrific matchup: Detroit’s passing attack vs. Green Bay’s pass defense Monday night. All three of Detroit’s top receivers – Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola – have a 100-yard, one touchdown game under their belt this season, and so does rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The Lions have 19 completions on the season of 20-plus yards, and Stafford ranks among the top 10 in the NFL in passing yards and passer rating. Detroit currently has the No. 7 passing offense in the NFL, averaging 267.0 yards per game through the air.

“They’re a good defense,” Jones said of the Packers this week. “They’ve had success, they turn the ball over, they're feisty and they go for the ball also. They have some good players, but we have good players, too, so it’s going to be a good matchup.”

UP TO THE CHALLENGE

If you want to be the best, you have to play the best, and beat the best. At least that’s how Lions veteran safety Quandre Diggs sees it.

It’s part of the reason why Diggs loves the matchup twice a year with the Packers and their MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“There’s so many good quarterbacks in this league and this week we’re going up against one the best, for sure,” Diggs said. “One of my favorite quarterbacks (to compete against) the way he commands the offense and does his thing. Those guys feed off him.”

We’ll see if Diggs gets the opportunity to play against Rodgers Monday as he’s dealing with a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice.

Diggs is obviously hopeful he’ll be able to play because he says he’s a fan of the game, watches the league, and has a lot of respect for the great players across the league, which he considers Rodgers one of.

Diggs is a competitor. Beating Rodgers on a national stage on Monday Night Football would make a statement about the Lions football team and the defense.

“I think we only got one Monday night game this year,” Diggs said. “So, I think we have to take advantage of that and let everyone know the type of team we are and the type of players we are and just go out there and have fun and enjoy the bright lights.”

BYE WEEK TIMING

Last week’s bye looked to have come at a good time for a number of injured players, including Stafford, who said he “feels good, feels better” after a week of rest for his injured hip.

But Stafford said the only way to really tell if the bye came at a good time or not is seeing how they play after it.

Detroit visits the Packers in Green Bay Monday night and then hosts the Vikings next Sunday in their first two division games of the season the next two weeks.

“If you play well after it, it came at a great time,” Stafford said of the bye. “If you play bad after it, everybody wants to tell you it didn’t come at the right time.

“You just do everything you can to play well after it and obviously we have a long stretch of games ahead, so we’ll just take it one at a time and go from there.”

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