"The Tennessee Titans . . . "
That's what I thought about departing Green Bay an hour or so after the Detroit Lions' 34-27 loss to the Packers Sunday afternoon at Green Bay.
Yes, serious issues were exposed again for the Lions in the loss to Green Bay. Among them:
The offense spun its wheels too long before finally getting traction to finish drives and find the end zone.
The defense got shredded by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first half and couldn't make a stand late in the fourth quarter to give the ball back to the offense.
It added up to a loss that makes the Lions' won-loss record 1-2 and looking up at the Minnesota Vikings (3-0) and Green Bay Packers (2-1) in the NFC North. The Lions' next opponent, the Chicago Bears, is last at 0-3 after Sunday night's loss at Dallas.
This week's Monday Countdown is about opportunity, and the fragile line teams operate on from week to week and the impact on the Lions after three games. There's also the good and bad from Sunday's game, some stats that show why the Lions are where they are after three games, how Marvin Jones has exceeded reasonable expectations and how Matthew Stafford is continuing his climb up the career passing list.
There's also Cris Collinsworth comment about the Bears' renewed energy – spoken in the pre-game show before the Bears-Cowboys game.
We start with the Tennessee Titans:
1. Remember the Titans: How the Lions must wish they could forget, but they can't, and they shouldn't. The game with the Titans in Week 2 was set up for the Lions to win and make their record 2-0, especially since they were playing at home and coming off an inspiring victory at Indianapolis in the opener.
Of course, the set up for the Lions became a 16-15 win for the Titans when they rallied to score the winning touchdown with 1:13 left.
The point is, you can't leave anything on the table – not a yard, a point, a victory. Giving away a game comes back to haunt you. The loss to the Packers, which reasonably was not unexpected, coupled with a game the Lions should not have lost to the Titans, has the Lions at 1-2 when they should be 2-1.
And that makes next week's game at Chicago something no team wants to face in week 3.
2. Must win: Is Week 4 too early for a must-win game? Not if you want to make the playoffs. Not if it's in Chicago against a winless Bears team the Lions have beaten six straight times.
Beat the Bears, get to 2-2, and play the next three games at home against the Eagles, Rams and Washington. It's an opportunity to make something of the season, and it starts in Chicago.
3. Three bad things from Sunday:
Left side, offensive line: A four-snap sequence in the fourth quarter was horrendous. Rookie Taylor Decker had a holding penalty and a sack, and guard Laken Tomlinson was flagged for a false start. The penalty turned third and one into third and six. Taylor gave up a sack on the next play that forced the Lions to settle for a long field goal.
129.3: That was Aaron Rodgers' passer rating for the game. The Lions haven't held a quarterback under 100 in the first three games. Andrew Luck's was 119.5 in the opener. Marcus Mariota's was 102.8 for the Titans. The cumulative passer rating against the Lions through three games is 120.2.
Rodgers' scrambles: A 14-yard by Rodgers on third and 20 in the third quarter put the Packers in range to kick a 46-yard field goal. An 11-yard run on third and eight in the fourth quarter helped the Packers run out the clock. Burn me once? Well, burn me again.
**4. Three good things from Sunday:
Marvin Jones: For the second time in three years, the Lions signed a free-agent receiver who has stepped in and given them more than expected. In 2014 it was Golden Tate, who's had seasons of 99 and 90 catches as a Lion.
Jones adds a downfield speed dimension that Tate lacks. Jones had six catches for 205 yards and two TDs against the Packers, giving him 18 catches for 408 yards and a 22.7-yard average per catch.
Jones has proven to be a No. 1 receiver in his own right, something he could not display in Cincinnati playing opposite Bengals star A.J. Green.
Kerry Hyder: After hearing Packers QB praise him in a midweek interview, Hyder got the Lions only sack to raise his season total to four.
Matthew Stafford: He kept throwing and completing passes, whether it was 0-0, a 31-3 deficit or the final score, 34-27.
5. Run stats: The Packers went into the game with the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense, allowing 39 yards per game and 1.6 yards per attempt. The Lions didn't put much of a dent in those stats: 50 yards rushing, and 2.2 yards per attempt.
With Ameer Abdullah out for an extended period with a foot injury, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter is in a bind. Theo Riddick is probably the NFL's best receiving back, and he's the No. 1 tailback with Abdullah out.
But Riddick doesn't have a track record of being a consistent running threat. On 10 carries Sunday he gained nine yards. Rookie Dwayne Washington had 10 carries for 38 yards, but he doesn't provide the dual threat that Riddick does.
6. Turnovers: The Lions aren't giving up many, only two interceptions in the first two weeks. But they aren't getting them, either.
They were 26th in the league last year in forcing turnovers. They had only 18 – nine fumble recoveries, nine interceptions. So far this year they're on pace to have even fewer. They have one turnover – an interception by safety Glover Quin in the loss to Tennessee.
The result is that defense has not given the offense short fields on turnovers. The offense has started only three of 30 possessions outside its 30-yard line in the first three games.
7. Stafford chart-climbing: It's partly a function of the way offense is played in this era, but Matthew Stafford is charging up the list in career passing yards, and he's passing some legends in the process.
Stafford started the season with 25,976. With 385 yards Sunday, he moved from 63rd on the all-time list to 60th with 26,961. In the move up the yards ladder he passed two Hall of Famers – Bobby Layne (26,576) and George Blanda (26,920).
8. Bears, Sunday night scouting: In NBC's pre-game show before the Cowboys-Bears game, Cris Collinsworth had some good things to say about Brian Hoyer, who's taken over at quarterback for the Bears because of an injury to Jay Cutler.
"He brought a little energy to that game the other night," Collinsworth said, in a quote distributed by NBC. "That pace carried into practice. His quick release is going to help Chicago's offensive line. More than anything, the Bears need a leader, and they hope it's Brian Hoyer."
The Bears were down, 24-3, at halftime. They had four first downs and 111 yards to 19 first downs and 274 yards for the Cowboys.