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Three Holding Calls against Bears Blamed on Quarterback Jared Goff

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell explains how the offense can improve moving forward.

For the Detroit Lions, there is no playoff appearance or divisional crown to play for.

Winless through the season’s first 11 games, coach Dan Campbell and company are forced to relay a message to the players inside the locker room as they gear up for the final six games.

“The message is that we’ve got six to go and we’re playing spoiler now,” Campbell said. “We’re trying to ruin people’s day, is what we’re trying to do. And so, how do we improve on the things that we’ve done a good job of and make it a bit better? And then certainly, the things that continue to show up, how do we help?”

Detroit has some opportunities to potentially secure a win yet this season, traveling to Atlanta on Dec. 26 and to Seattle on Jan. 2, 2022. Yet, it can be easy for players to zone out and disengage after enduring as much losing as the team has this season.

The improvement -- and key to winning a game -- starts with the offense. The unit as a whole has struggled throughout the season, including being shutout in the first half five separate times this season.


With quarterback Jared Goff back in action after missing a game due to an oblique injury, Campbell is focused on improving a passing game that has been among the league’s worst throughout the year.

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“The details of what we do in the pass game we’ve got to drastically improve,” Campbell said. “Believe it or not, there has been improvement over the last couple of weeks on some things. But, we’ve just got to grow from there. Just every little thing from the splits to the depth, they make all of the difference in the world to what we’re doing, particularly when you play some of these teams that are playing zone like we’ve faced.”

Opponents such as Chicago, which handed the Lions their most recent defeat, have given Detroit its short passes but have taken away the long ones. Goff and his receivers have had trouble connecting on downfield shots all year, and opposing teams have caught on.

“Look, Chicago did a lot of things that they haven’t really shown, but that being said, we’ve got plenty of ammo. But, it’s like, man, when you are where we’re at, that split of where you’re at and that route depth makes all of the difference,” Campbell said. “In that route, that hook route that’s supposed to be 18 yards and it’s 16 and then I’m two yards inside of where I should be, you just covered yourself. Just little things like that. And so, I think if we can improve on that, improve on some of the things – we’re trying to push the ball down the field a little bit, we got one.”

Another issue plaguing the Lions’ offense has been penalties. Last week, the offensive line committed eight penalties, six of which were holding. Without starting guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Tommy Kraemer made his first career start, and was called for holding twice.

Being penalized on what ended up being a semi-consistent basis took the Lions out of their flow offensively. They were unable to consistently finish blocks and battle upfront, because of the threat of being called for holding.

Another issue leading to the penalties was the scrambling of Goff, which makes it tough on linemen trying to set up a pocket for their quarterback.

“I think that was the big one was -- look, there were a ton of those in there,” Campbell said. “Let’s call it what it is. That’s crazy. It’s a crazy amount. Some of those are -- three of those are on the quarterback. Now, you’ve still got to keep your hands in and you can’t get outside the framework. That’s the other thing you learn in that when you get in those games, there are enough of those in the run game where -- look, I’ll be honest with you, one of (Tommy) Kraemer’s, one of (Taylor) Decker’s were -- you can call them ticky-tack, but yet when they start getting called that way, you’ve got to let off the gas. It’s got to be perfect and you can’t finish. You’ve got to pull back and let him go.”