Through five games, the Detroit Lions' offense has sputtered.
In each of the team’s last three games, the Lions have failed to produce a first-half touchdown. Finishing drives has proven to be a difficult task, and quarterback Jared Goff has had problems with turnovers.
The unit is largely new, as few holdovers remain from past teams on the offensive side of the ball. Building continuity is difficult to do on the fly, but it’s important that growth is shown week-to-week in a league where winning is everything.
To help this offense jell and adjust to the limitations of Goff, Campbell has plans. Some of this deals with establishing a balance between taking care of the ball and trying to make big plays.
“I think he’s trying to take chances, sometimes at a fault,” Campbell said. “I think he’s trying to get it downfield sometimes when maybe he ought to go to the first look.”
In the Lions’ Week 5 loss to Minnesota, Goff had two turnovers, and narrowly missed a third when Vikings safety Harrison Smith dropped an interception. On the season, Goff has thrown three interceptions, and leads the league with six fumbles.
Fighting these turnovers and adjusting to his strengths and weaknesses will go a long way toward helping the Lions remain competitive.
“I think we’ve got to do a better job of finding a way to push it down the field,” Campbell said. “This has been said, but explosives, (Minnesota) had seven, we had five. Four were passes, one was a run. Three of those were run after catch. Man, that’s a hard way to live, man, trying to get explosives, and hoping you’ve got a guy who can break it every time they get the ball.
“I think we have to do a better job, as a staff, of designing some of these shots, protecting him and getting it downfield.”
Penei Sewell struggles
Against the Vikings, Detroit rookie offensive tackle Penei Sewell struggled to handle the different moves thrown at him by veteran defensive end Everson Griffen. Sewell was beaten on back-to-back plays in the first half, the second of which resulted in a sack and fumble and gave the Vikings the ball.
Campbell isn’t worried about the development of Sewell over the long term, even after the struggles. But, he does know that learning from the tough times will be important.
“I go back to, every one of these looks he gets, he’s gonna be better for it,” Campbell said. “Now, he’s gotta be able to adjust a lot faster than he did in that game. It took him a while, and then, he thought he had (Griffen) and then he got beat. And so, I do think we’ve got to do some things to help him.”
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Campbell mentioned that Sewell does a good job responding to challenges, and he anticipates the same heading into a Week 6 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
After suffering a broken collarbone Sunday, wide receiver Quintez Cephus was placed on injured reserve Monday. Campbell said it will be a lengthy recovery process, one that could keep him out the rest of the season.
“We’ll know a lot more this afternoon, as it pertains to how long he’ll be out,” Campbell said. “But, certainly, this will be weeks and weeks, and that’s if we get him back for the season. But, he’s out for a significant amount of time, if not (for) the whole season.”
Cephus is the seventh Lions player to be placed on IR since the start of the season. Cornerback Jeff Okudah and linebacker Romeo Okwara are expected to miss the rest of the season, while some of the other players have unclear timetables for recovery.
There are several players who could return from IR, as it pertains to the rules. However, it’s uncertain whether or not they can from a health perspective. Among those players is Taylor Decker, who could return to practice this week.
“We’re gonna see where Decker’s at Wednesday,” Campbell said.
Campbell added that defensive lineman Kevin Strong will return and that Da’Shawn Hand is “probably a little further away right now.” More will be known about the status of receiver Tyrell Williams as the week goes on.
Williams has been out since entering concussion protocol in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers.
With injuries to Williams and Cephus, the Lions are growing thin at wide receiver. Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown and KhaDarel Hodge will likely see their reps increase heading into Week 6.
- After a dynamite start to the season, tight end T.J. Hockenson has been slowed by opponents over the past three games. Against the Vikings, Hockenson had just two catches for 22 yards. Getting Hockenson going is important to Campbell and the offense. “The bottom line is we’ve got to get him going,” Campbell said. “We’ve got to get him going, because he can help us win. And so, that’s gonna be a focal point for us.”
- After Jamie Collins was released, opportunities were made available to players like Alex Anzalone and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The latter spent a majority of his career as a special teams player, but has come on strong with more chances to play. Reeves-Maybin made the biggest play of the game against the Vikings, stripping the ball from Alexander Mattison and recovering the fumble to give Detroit the ball with great field position.
- Reeves-Maybin has caught the eye of Campbell, who named the linebacker as one of the most improved players on the roster. “I’d say Reeves-Maybin is the first one that stands out,” Campbell said. “He played so much special teams, and was limited at linebacker. Over the last three weeks, he’s just gotten better and better, and he makes plays. He’s productive for us.”