The Detroit Lions have been somewhat competitive in their first two games of the 2021 NFL season, but both contests have ended in losses.
A fair reasoning for the losses has been the mistakes made on both sides of the ball.
Whether it be a turnover on offense or a missed assignment on defense, the Lions have metaphorically shot themselves in the foot with key mistakes that occur at inopportune moments.
Despite this, head coach Dan Campbell remains optimistic that his team can right the ship and get back on track.
“I’m trusting the guys that we have in this locker room, that we’re gonna go back to work and just clean up the errors that have killed us these last two games,” Campbell said. “I’m still waiting for that game to where we play the way we’re capable of playing, clean up the little errors and then see what it looks like. See what the scoreboard looks like then.”
Through two games, the Lions have turned the ball over three times on offense, including two via interceptions by quarterback Jared Goff.
Defensively, the unit has struggled and allowed 76 points in the first two contests. Both San Francisco and Green Bay have moved the ball at will against the Lions.
Campbell said the Lions had a better week of practice heading into the Green Bay game but there were still too many mistakes on game day. Should the team clean those up, he believes they will be in a much better position to win.
Jared Goff growing more comfortable
Though Goff has struggled with turnovers in the last two weeks, he’s shown growth from week-by-week to start his tenure in Motown.
After an ugly first half in the season opener, his play improved in the second half, and then was great in the first half against Green Bay.
On the Lions’ first drive against the Packers, Goff made two big throws. The first was a long completion he made after extending a play, the second of which was a touchdown in a very tight window.
Campbell said Goff is feeling more comfortable with the offense and is encouraged to take chances with his arm.
“We want him to feel confident pulling the trigger with some of our guys that we really trust,” Campbell said. “I mean, (T.J.) Hockenson, man, if you’ve got a one-on-one, just give him a chance. It doesn’t have to be a perfect throw. And I think sometimes when you do that, it actually helps to make it a perfect throw.”
Goff has developed a nice connection with Hockenson through two games. Having a player of Hockenson’s caliber available as a checkdown has done wonders for Goff’s abilities.
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“We just try to take pressure off him and say, ‘Hey, if you’ve got your one-on-one, let it go, let it rip,’” Campbell said. “He’s playing with a high level of confidence over the last two weeks, he really is. And you can’t excuse the turnovers, but if you take those away, he would’ve given us a chance to win.”
Wide receiver Quintez Cephus rising
With the Lions so depleted at wide receiver, a main storyline surrounding the offense was the need for an emerging player. Detroit seems to have found that in Quintez Cephus, who has made some big plays through the first two games.
In the opener, he had a touchdown catch and ensuing two-point conversion to keep his team alive. Against Green Bay, he had a long catch and then a touchdown on the opening drive.
Through two weeks, the former Wisconsin Badger has impressed his new head coach with his growth.
“Look, he’s a young guy and he made some plays early,” Campbell said. “And there’s some plays that you want him to win on that didn’t happen late. But that’s part of his growth. So what’s encouraging is that he did make plays early and the potential is there.”
From week to week, that growth will be key for Cephus.
“His route discipline was better (in week two) from San Francisco,” Campbell said. “That shows there’s improvement. He’s just gotta keep coming and keep improving and the more he does that, the more Goff will trust him and give him opportunities.”
- The Lions will likely be without starting wide receiver Tyrell Williams for the second straight week. Williams is still dealing with a concussion suffered in week one.
- Campbell said David Blough will play Lamar Jackson on the scout team this week. It will be a tough task, one that’s difficult to replicate given Jackson’s diverse skill set.
- Defensive tackle Kevin Strong will get a chance to play this week. Campbell said Strong has been doing better and is ready for an opportunity.
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