SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Lions-49ers Final Thoughts: Panic in the streets of Detroit over a big loss might not have infiltrated the Lions' compound; from the archives, examples for hope from three early turnarounds; offense should learn something from last week's missed opportunity and Random Thoughts, including sticking with my pick.
Blount's blunt assessment: If the world is starting to collapse around the Detroit Lions since their opening-game loss to the Jets, LeGarrette Blount says he isn't aware of it. And if he were, he wouldn't pay any attention.
Win or lose, teams and players have a way of picking up the pieces and moving on. And really, they have no choice.
"I never really hear about any of it until you guys tell me," Blount said during the practice week. "Our guys are here to grind, and we're here to play and to do our jobs and do whatever we can to win football games.
"We're not here to moan and complain about anything. Obviously, nobody wants to lose games. We're here to grind and hopefully win as many games as possible."
There's a difference between fan reaction during games – such as the chants from Jets fans that resounded throughout Ford Field Monday night – and calls from fans and media after one game to rebuild the franchise.
Players heard the chants, and they understood the reaction. Reacting to critics who want to cash in a season after one game is a wholly different matter.
Blount is new to the Lions but not to the NFL – or big games and winning. He's in his ninth season, and he has played on three of the last four Super Bowl champs – the Patriots of 2014 and '16, and the Eagles last season.
"Our team has always been pretty close," he said of the current Lions. "I just think we had a wakeup call from last week. It's now or never to get this thing going."
Three turnarounds: The Lions have been on the mat early and gotten up before. Here are three memorable examples.
1. 1983: After an opening-game win, the Lions lost four straight. With questions about his job security, head coach Monte Clark departed the locker room after loss No. 4 and cracked to a couple reporters: "See you at the cemetery."
Clark stayed on as coach, and the Lions went on a tear. They finished 9-7, won the old NFC Central and nearly beat the 49ers in the divisional playoff. A game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds sailed wide.
2. 1991: A wipeout 45-0 road loss to Washington in the opener had head coach Wayne Fontes on the griddle (he lasted as head coach through 1996). After the game, he told the players to look around the locker room because they'd be back to play Washington in the playoffs.
Fontes was clairvoyant. The Lions were 12-4, beat Dallas in the divisional playoff and returned to Washington – where they were drubbed again, 41-10, in the NFC Championship. It was still a heck of a rebound.
3. 2015: The Lions' world really was crumbling. Two assistant coaches were fired before Game 8 at London, and two front-office executives were fired during the bye after a humiliating 45-10 loss to the Chiefs.
The schedule resumed with the Lions playing at Green Bay, a team that had not lost to them at home since 1991. The result: An 18-16 Lions win that sparked a 6-2 record in the second half of the season that saved head coach Jim Caldwell's job for two more seasons.
4. 2018: Stay tuned.
Power outage: Lomas Brown, color analyst on WJR-760's Lions broadcasts and a seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle who spent the first 11 of his 18 NFL seasons with the Lions, reacted with obvious anguish when the Lions threw the ball on a third and one at their 34 in the third quarter against the Jets.
The result was an interception returned for a TD that stretched the Jets' lead to 31-17.
Brown said the Lions missed a chance for an "attitude play." Agreed. The Lions have been talking about building a tougher, stronger team overall with a better short-yardage running game. It was an ideal time to try it. If they didn't get it, they could have run the play again on fourth down.
On why Lions should play better: The obvious answer is that they can't play worse. But more practically, two of their strengths are the passing game and special teams. They were weaknesses against the Jets. Both gave the Jets a touchdown and also set up short drives to points. Shouldn't happen again.
On 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: I get why he's their QB of the present and future. He was the trigger man on the five-game win streak at the end of last season. But I also see this: 7 TD passes against 5 interceptions in those five games, 1 TD and 3 picks in the loss to the Vikings last week. That's an 8-8 split. It's not like the Lions are facing 49ers Hall of Famers Joe Montana or Steve Young. Or even Jeff Garcia.
50-50: Marvin Jones Jr. couldn't come up with a couple contested deep passes against the Jets. They're called 50-50 balls, and he excelled at catching them last year. And he should again.
Carries for Kerryon: Rookie Kerryon Johnson's five carries were the most of any Lions back last week. He should get more. He had a nine-yard run on the play before the Lions passed on third and one. He was not on the field for that play.
Sticking with my pick: I expect the Lions to play better in a tight game, but home-field advantage favors the 49ers. The Lions gave up a lot of big plays to the Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold last week. It's a lot to correct.
49ers 23, Lions 20.