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NOTEBOOK: Offense still looking for a complete game

Matthew Stafford had a good anecdote when talking this week about some of Detroit's problems on offense through the first half of the season. The Lions currently rank 19th in overall offense.

"Can't just put one fire out and let another one pop up," he said.

Stafford was referencing the problems Detroit had in the red zone last week (0-for-5), which popped up in the same game in which they passed for more than 400 yards (423) and protected Stafford better than they had in weeks. It doesn't do much good to fix one leak if another pops up somewhere else. Eventually, the boat still sinks.

It's the same with the run game. Detroit's been able to run the football well in spots this season, but again, it's been far too inconsistent overall.

Talking to Lions players on offense, the inconsistencies have really been the most frustrating part on that side of the football.

"It's been a little frustrating," running back Ameer Abdullah admitted. "Especially when you have a bunch of playmakers in the offense and not seeing every single facet of the offense showing up every day. It's been frustrating."

Lions guard T.J. Lang sees progress being made in areas, but it's been talked about in the meeting room that they can't let other aspects of their play drop off when they're trying to focus on improving one specific aspect.

"We're definitely looking to play a complete game for the first time this year," Lang said Thursday. "I think (Monday) is a good time for it."

The Lions were good offensively last week between the 20's against a Steelers' defense that ranked in the top 5 in a lot of major statistical categories. Detroit racked up nearly 500 yards of offense, but couldn't punch the ball in the end zone when is mattered.

The Packers' defense ranks 20th in points allowed (23.0), 23rd overall (348.9), 26th against the run (125.7) and 16th against the pass (223.1). Can the Lions finally put everything together on that side of the ball Monday night?

Stafford said the goals on offense moving forward are simple.

"We've got to make sure that we're covering all of our bases and trying to execute at a high level from end zone to end zone," he said.


The Lions had faith in Abdullah before the season that he could carry their run game, with the help of Theo Riddick and others.

So, it seems rather odd that seven games into the season, Abdullah doesn't have a single carry on third down, and just a few carries in the red zone.

"Maybe they see better opportunities to score or be effective," Abdullah said this week.

But the stats don't necessarily indicate that. Riddick, Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner have combined to go 3-for-10 running the ball on third down. Stafford is currently the top running threat on third down. He's gained a first down on four of his six rushing attempts on third down.

Abdullah thinks he can be successful in the red zone and in short yardage situations, if given more of an opportunity.

"Why not?" he asked. "Why not?

"I feel like I'm a good player. I wouldn't be standing in front of you guys if I didn't bring something to the table."

Abdullah chalks up his limited usage carrying the ball on third down and in the red zone as him simply needing to execute better and be a better player overall to earn that trust from coaches.


No one in the Lions locker room is calling Monday night's game in Green Bay a must-win situation.

"No, I think it's the eighth game of the season," Stafford said. "That's how we take it."

View Detroit Lions practice photos on Nov. 2, 2017.

Safety Glover Quin echoed Stafford's sentiment, but he did speak to Monday's game in Green Bay as being slightly bigger than the norm because of it being a divison game.

"We have what nine games left in the season and we've only played one division game, so that means five out of our last nine are division games," he said. "We see it as a great opportunity.

"Obviously, we don't want to be however many games we are behind (2.5), but we have nine games left to play and we still feel like we've only lost four games. If we go out and take care of our business, we end up right where we want to be."

The Lions are the only team in the NFC North without a loss in the division, but they're also the only team that's played fewer than two games against division opponents.

"It's important," Abdullah said of the Packers game. "We want to win all of our division games. We know if we do that, we'll be in the playoffs. Of course we've lost the last three ... but everything is still out there to get."

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