Fast starts and speculation about a star player's performance declining because of age aren't anything a team can hang its hat on to win games in the NFL.
There is a lot to lament about the Detroit Lions' performance in losing their first two games – 27-23 to the Bears in the opener, 42-21 to the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
What we learned again about winning and losing in those two games is that overall performance on gameday matters more than anything. It means competing at a peak level for 60 minutes, with no lapses. There are no guarantees from fast starts, experience or the supposed decline of an opponent.
We also learned from linebacker Reggie Ragland that the problems facing the Lions are not all physical.
We start with fast starts, which have been a discussion point on the Lions' offense in recent seasons.
In the opener against the Bears, the Lions got into the red zone on two of their first four possessions. They stalled out there and settled for field goals, not touchdowns. The offense eventually came to life on three straight possessions, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal in a span from the last possession of the first half through the first two of the second.
However, the defense crumbled late in the game, giving up three TD passes in the fourth quarter.
It was the opposite on Sunday. The Lions scored touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 14-3 lead. They couldn't have started faster.
However, the defense gave up another lead – 11 points this time, after a 21-point lead against the Bears. The Packers scored 31 straight points to put the game out of reach.
Bottom line: The fast start – two TDs – didn't win the game against the Packers. The slow start – two field goals instead of TDs – didn't lose it to the Bears.
It's total performance for 60 minutes that wins and loses games.
Aaron Rodgers: There were signs of a slight decline in performance in 2019, and in his 16th season – and 13th as the Packers' starter – there was speculation that at the age of 37 there would be a further decline in 2020.
There has been no sign of that in the first two games. He threw four TD passes in the opening-game win over the Vikings and two more in Sunday's win over the Lions.
It's been a good start for Rodgers. Two games. Two wins. Six TDs.
Rodgers might not be quite at the peak level of his career. If he's not in the top three at his position, he's certainly in the top six. As we've learned, that's more than good enough to dominate and win a game on any given Sunday – if not every Sunday.
Ragland: In a Zoom interview Monday afternoon, we learned from the backup linebacker –- and member of the Super Bowl champion Chiefs last season – that the Lions' problems are not physical.
Where's the problem?
"From the neck up," Ragland said. "It's the mental side of the game. It ain't nothing else. We're close. We've got to go out there and keep finishing."