Lions-Jaguars Final Thoughts: Turnovers and field position useful for Lions; quote to note from Kerryon Johnson and Random Thoughts – softer schedule ahead for Lions, Hockenson trending up, stat to note, my prediction and more.
The message on the responsibility facing the Lions' defense – get turnovers to put the offense in good position to go to work – is the same from veteran linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., and second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye.
"The game is about the ball," said Collins. "We've got a pretty good offense, it's only right to give them as many chances as we can as a defense. It's definitely a priority to get the ball back to our offense as much as we can."
Turnovers can change field position and help win games.
Seven of the Lions' 42 possessions in the first four games started in the opponent's territory. Four were on interceptions, three on punts.
The Lions have done well when they've started possessions in the other team's territory. Six of those were converted into points – four touchdowns, two field goals.
The Lions did not have a dynamic big-play defense in the first quarter of the season. They had just five sacks and four interceptions. Collins contributed one of each.
Head coach Matt Patricia talked this week about simplifying some of the things the Lions have been doing to let players play faster and more instinctively.
There is an opportunity to make plays and dictate the tempo against the Jaguars. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II has been sacked 16 times.
"We need to get a lot more turnovers to make an impact on the game," Oruwariye said. "However we can ... just to give our offense – Number 9 (Matthew Stafford) – a lot more chances to score points."
Quote to note:
Johnson, on his role in the Lions' running back rotation: "I'm doing my job. I'm giving Stafford a lot more time to throw the ball. I'm helping a lot in the passing game – being there when I'm called on in the running game. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, like any other position group. We all have a role to do."
Second thought: Just looking at the Jaguars' record and their roster turnover makes this look like a game the Lions can dominate.
But then there is this: The Lions have allowed 127 points in their first four games. The Jaguars have allowed 127 in their four-game losing streak. Advantage on defense goes to ... no one.
T.J. trending: It's upward for T.J. Hockenson, compared to his first four games as a rookie last year. Hockenson has 15 catches for 180 yards and two TDs. Last year after four games he had 11 catches, 166 yards and and two TDs. More than half his production was in his first game: Six catches for 131 yards and a TD.
Moving time: The Lions' schedule gets softer starting today.
Their first four opponents combined to win 14 games – Bears (4-1), Packers (4-0), Cardinals (3-2), Saints (3-2).
The next eight opponents have combined to win 15 games, one more than the first four opponents have won: Jaguars (1-4), Falcons (0-5), Colts (3-2), Vikings (1-4), Washington (1-4), Panthers (3-2), Texans (1-4) and Bears (4-1).
Schedule reality check: Beat the Jaguars and Falcons in the next two to get to 3-3 and the Lions are in shape to make a run. Anything less than that is a missed opportunity.
My pick: The Lions' offense is the dominant unit in this matchup. It should carry the day and the game for the Lions.
Prediction: Lions 37, Jaguars 20.