The Detroit Lions' defense has the unenviable task this week of trying to figure out how to stop the Baltimore Ravens and All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson as they try to secure their first victory of the season at Ford Field Sunday.
The Ravens are coming off a come-from-behind win over Kansas City spearheaded by Jackson, who threw for 239 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 107 yards and two scores. It was the ninth career 100-yard rushing game for Jackson, which is just one behind Michael Vick's all-time record for quarterbacks at 10.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday they'll have to play down-safety defense, be gapped out, and know exactly where their run fits are to try and stop Jackson and this talented Baltimore rushing attack looking for their 42nd straight contest with at least 100 rushing yards.
"It does start with that quarterback and he's dynamic," Campbell said of Jackson. "I think keeping him away from the open field is – let's find a way to force him to hand this ball off is what you're looking for."
Campbell said Detroit's safeties are really going to have to play an important role in this game to have success. They need to be where they're supposed to be and ready to fill.
"The biggest thing about him is you have to get population to the ball," Lions defensive end Michael Brockers said Wednesday. "Everyone has to be able to tackle and everyone has to wrap up. He did have some turnovers (last week vs. Kansas City), so we have to look at that as well. We get everyone to the ball and ripping and stripping at the ball. It's all about population and people getting to the ball."
Since Jackson took over as a starter in 2018, Baltimore has 21 games where they've rushed for at least 200 yards, the most in the NFL over that stretch. The Ravens rushed for 251 yards last Sunday vs. the Chiefs, and are 29-3 with John Harbaugh as head coach when posting 200-plus rushing yards.
"He's a rare breed," Campbell said of Jackson. "Just for the fact that he has the explosiveness and speed that he has and certainly being able to throw the ball."
Baltimore comes into Sunday's matchup ranked third in total offense (443.5 yards per game) and first in rushing (220.0).
Detroit didn't allow the Packers to run for 100 yards in their loss in Green Bay Monday night and rank 15th in rushing defense (113.5) coming in.
COLLINS TRADE RUMORS
Both ESPN and the NFL Network reported Wednesday the Lions are seeking a trade partner for veteran linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., which isn't a huge surprise given some of the comments Campbell made Tuesday when asked about Collins' performance Monday Night in Green Bay. Collins didn't practice Wednesday with a non-injury designation.
"Look, Jamie is a big linebacker. He's a very athletic linebacker. The way he moves is a little bit different," Campbell said Tuesday.
"Now, does he move with the same effort or have the same effort as Alex (Anzalone)? No, I don't. I think Alex just plays at a high level all of the time. That's him. That's how it goes. Jamie - there are things that Jamie does well that we still have to continue to use. He's still a mismatch on third down, particularly in the rush game and we'll see where this goes."
If the reports are accurate, the Lions are clearly serious about getting rookie Derrick Barnes more playing time moving forward.
RARE COMPANY FOR HOCKENSON
Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown catch in Week 2. He is the only player with eight-plus catches and a touchdown grab in each of the first two games of the season. He's only the third tight end in history to start a season with that stat line.
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS GRADES
It's worth taking a look at which Lions players rank in the Top 10 at their positions after two weeks by Pro Football Focus grading: Center Frank Ragnow (1st), Hockenson (4th) and punter Jack Fox (6th).