5 Questions with John Maakaron of Detroit Lions Maven!
Nobody gets you set better for a football game that will probably feature more empty seats than filled like we do! It's the atrocious (1-9) Washington Redskins and the (3-6-1) Detroit Lions at FedExField on Sunday.
John Maakaron covers the Lions for us here on SI.com and Maven plus hosts the Detroit Sports Podcast. We took turns asking each other five questions and answers to preview this scintillating Sunday affair.
1. How close are the Lions to being good? Obviously, their record is not but they were feisty as hell earlier before injuries and things fell apart?
JM: The Lions started the season 2-0-1, but since then have lost six of their last seven games. When healthy, the Lions were competitive and had an opportunistic defense that forced a lot of turnovers. In this stretch of seven games, many things have impacted the Lions negatively. Injuries to several key players and the defense struggling mightily to execute Patricia's scheme effectively have derailed their season. With each season that passes that the Lions do not win the division, it seems like the path to success is farther and farther away. But in reality, with a healthy Matthew Stafford and the emergence of wide receiver Kenny Golladay, this team can be good if they ever figure out consistency on defense.
2. On defense, is their anyone the Redskins should fear?
JM: Trey Flowers was emerging prior to his concussion. He was playing at or near the level he was when he was at New England. He has been ruled out against Washington so Dwayne Haskins must worry about cornerback Darius Slay. If Haskins isn't careful, Slay can disrupt the passing game and/or pick him off. It would be wise for Haskins to target the opposite side of the field of Slay.
3. How similar to the Patriots style of defense is Matt Patricia running? Exactly the same? Is it just not enough talent? Depth? What are the weaknesses?
JM: One of the challenges Lions fans are dealing with is looking over at New England's defense and seeing the success they are currently having. Detroit's defense is among the worst in the NFL while New England's is near the top of the league. Patricia likes to rush three and drop back eight and requires players to make quick decisions on the field. On too many occasions, there are missed assignments, mistakes and his defense doesn't pressure the quarterback enough. It appears like the classic example of Patricia and his staff forcing their beliefs on the players and not doing a good enough job of tailoring a system that compliments the skills of the players that he has.
There is talent on the Lions defense, but....
4. If Jeff Driskel is to have success Sunday on the road, what three things does he need to do?
JM: Obviously, losing Matthew Stafford is a major blow for the Lions. Driskel has come in and played well and has the added dynamic of being able to rush the football. To have success, Driskel needs to be more decisive about when to rush the football, he needs to incorporate the tight ends more and he needs to look off defenders better because he tends to stare down the receiver he is targeting.
5. Is Patricia and I guess more specifically, Bob Quinn, jobs on the line Sunday against a horrible Redskins team?
JM: If the Lions lose Sunday, the heat surrounding Quinn and Patricia intensifies drastically. Patricia has already been asked in the media if he should be worried about his job security. Many are debating in Detroit whether Patricia deserves another season due to the team's inconsistent play on the field. But in recent weeks, the heat has been dialed up on General Manager Bob Quinn. He fired a successful coach in Jim Caldwell and brought in his friend Matt Patricia. In the last two seasons, it appears the team has gone backwards. Winning cures all and the Lions are as desperate for a win as any team in the NFL. If they are not successful Sunday, it may just signal the beginning of the end of the Quinn-Patricia era in Detroit.
Chris Russell is the Publisher of Maven & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.