Thoughts From the Green Bay Packers Versus the Detroit Lions
My thoughts from the Green Bay Packers' 34-20 loss at home against the Detroit Lions last night.
Dan Campbell deserves a lot of credit for turning the Lions around. The Lions had been a laughingstock for around three decades and Campbell has turned that around in the short time he has been coach. He is energetic and aggressive, something that rubs off on his players and it feels like this team will be a contender for a while as a result.
Then there's Matt LaFleur. Look, I usually try not to place the blame for a loss squarely on the coaching. However, this isn't the first time one of his teams has come onto the field looking flat and defeated from the opening whistle. You can't even blame it on the team's youth because it's been happening long before Jordan Love was the starter at quarterback and Green Bay purged its veterans on offense. Each time, he acknowledges the problem, but never seems to know how to fix it. Had the Packers shown any sign of life in the first half, this would have been a completely different game and possibly a different outcome.
Speaking of which, what happened to Aaron Jones? I know Jones was coming back from an injury and maybe LaFleur didn't want to have the team's best weapon overdo it, but an underperforming AJ Dillon was on the field a whole lot more than the one guy who could have scared Detroit's defense, even when the team finally started showing signs of life in the second half and was fighting back. Once again, this isn't the first time LaFleur has seemed to forget he has Jones as a weapon.
Love's accuracy continues to be an issue. I'm still not quite ready to place the blame for that squarely on him though. The slow start essentially took away the run game and forced him to pick up large chunks of yardage to stay in the game. Those two things, combined with a defense that knows how to rush the passer, injuries on the offensive line and inexperience at receiver, usually combine for a lower completion percentage.
Love continues to show quite a bit of grit. He's not afraid to take the team on his shoulders when needed and took a few hits as a result of that. The latter is something LaFleur should be a lot more concerned about than he is. That whole QB-option thing looks good on paper but is a good way to get a promising young passer injured.
Quay Walker is a talented linebacker, but he sure can make boneheaded choices at times. That personal foul late in the game, with the Lions stopped and forced to kick a field goal snuffed out the momentum that was building in Green Bay's favor. The defense, which was getting very tired because of the offensive struggles early (though I'm sure defensive coordinator Joe Barry will still get blamed) couldn't prevent a touchdown when the Lions got three more chances and the three-score game was too much to overcome. It's not the first time he's done that.
Despite the embarrassing loss, there is still reason to hope. When the offense plays with energy/urgency, it has looked good. Plus, the defense has proven it can keep the score manageable when the players have a chance to rest, and the opposing offense doesn't have the ball for a full 15 minutes longer than the Packers' offense. Thanks to a scheduling quirk, they will have 11 days until their next game (at the Las Vegas Raiders) then a bye week. That should give key players a chance to get healthy and LaFleur plenty of time to figure out how to put Love in the best position to succeed.