As we all predicted, Bo Scarbrough started at running back for the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys.
And since the Cowboys had drafted Scarbrough in the seventh round out of Alabama in 2018, we all predicted that Scarbrough would lead the Lions in rushing and score a touchdown against the team that drafted him, cut him and then signed him to the practice squad.
Of course, we didn’t predict that any of that would happen.
What we learned from Sunday’s 35-27 loss to the Cowboys is that there are always surprises – from the stars of the team down to the practice squad. Scarbrough’s performance was one of the surprises.
Among the other things we learned include the following: The Lions’ defense has been a target for quarterbacks to pad their stats in recent games, with no end in sight; offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell continues to patch together players from week to week to produce a productive attack, and players sometimes speak their mind about what’s wrong with the team, even when it’s their own unit. Linebacker Devon Kennard did just that Sunday.
We start with Scarbrough:
He had been with the Cowboys, Jaguars and Seahawks – without being active for a regular-season game – when the Lions signed him to their practice squad on Nov. 6. On Saturday afternoon -- 11 days after signing with the Lions – he was signed to the active roster.
From there began a fast progression.
On Sunday he was the starting running back. On the first play of the Lions’ first possession he carried for a two-yard gain, gained five on first and goal at the 10 and ran it in from the two for a touchdown and a 7-0 Lions lead.
It was a nice beginning for a good, solid performance. Overall, Scarbrough carried 14 times for 55 yards and the TD, with a long run of 23 yards.
When asked about starting in his first pro game and for his fourth team, Scarbrough talked about playing for Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
“It’s an opportunity, week in and week out,” Scarbrough said. “Everybody needs an opportunity. It felt regular to me. Playing under Coach Saban, this is what we’ve always done. If your number is called, you just have to take advantage of it and run with it.”
QB merry-go-round: Dak Prescott’s 444-yard passing performance with three TDs should tell us that the Lions’ defensive problems aren’t going to heal by themselves. It hasn’t been a one or two-game aberration.
Here’s what five quarterbacks have done against the Lions since the bye before Sunday's game with Dallas:
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: 283 yards, two TDs, one interception, 90.0 passer rating; Kirk Cousins, Vikings: 338 yards, four TDs, 141.5 rating; Daniel Jones, Giants: 322 yards, four TDs, 124.2 rating; Derek Carr, Raiders: 289 yards, two TDs, 116.2 rating; Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: 173 yards, three TDs, 131.0 rating.
Amazingly, the Lions have had the lead in every game, and they’ve been in contention late in every game.
Bevell’s O: Head coach Matt Patricia nailed it with the hire of Bevell as offensive coordinator. The offense keeps moving along despite injuries at running back, quarterback and offensive line.
With an average of 64.8 plays per game, there will always be second-guessing about play calling – the final play in the loss to Oakland being one of them.
But Bevell has fashioned a top 10 attack with what he’s had at his disposal, and he’s sprinkled in some wrinkles. The flea flicker to start the game against Green Bay, and the double pass for a touchdown against the Giants were two of them.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel’s two-yard run for a touchdown on an option play wasn’t quite as fancy as the others, but it was just as effective for how it took advantage of Driskel’s athleticism.
What we’ve learned again Sunday: Be alert for more.
Quote to note: The words after Sunday’s game were different from what linebacker Devon Kennard said after the loss to Oakland, but the message was the same: The defense is costing the Lions games.
“I feel like a broken record at this point, but another game I feel like the offense played well enough for us to win, but we have to figure it out collectively as a defense,” Kennard said. “We have to play better, and we can play better.”