2020 Half-Season Review - Pt. 2: Mid-way point (with look ahead)

After the bye week, the Lions stood at 1-3 and 0-2 in the division. A situation that nobody wanted to be in and saw the HC come under serious fire.


The pressure was on him to be fired before the bye was over, but, he wasn't and the pressure then turned to performing every week as his job was on the line.

Week 6: W 34-16 @ Jacksonville Jaguars - (2-3) (0-2 in division)


One thing that gave fans some comfort was the prospect of facing a poor Jacksonville Jaguars side that was 1-4 entering the matchup and on a 4 game losing streak. The Jags’ main prospects came through their young offence, one that included 2nd year QB Gardener Minshew, rookie RB James Robinson and rookie WR Laviska Shenault. Accompanied by 3rd year WR D.J Chark (do, dooo, dodo, dodo).


However, both teams poor form saw the game being on a knife-edge. It was a game that could’ve been explosive but also could’ve been a dull and dwindling affair. Thanks to the bye week, the Lions entered the game fresher and hopefully with corrected mistakes.


Offensively, the Lions were superb. Stafford looked fresher and better, D’Andre Swift looked great too. He ran for 100+ yards including a 54-yard burst. Golladay made a huge impact, including a 40-yard and 36-yard catch. Hockenson continued to get in on the action, with his 3rd TD reception in 5 games so far. The offence had a big and notable game, here’s why:

  • Swift is the first rookie RB for the Lions to have 100+ rushing yards and 2 TDs in a game since Barry Sanders in 1989.

  • Swift’s 116-yards on the ground and Golladay’s 105 receiving yards made them the first rushing-receiving duo since Reggie Bush & Calvin Johnson in 2013 to have 100-yard games each for the Lions.

The only problems with the offence were the inability to capitalise on a huge interception in Jags’ territory, which in turn led to a missed FG.


Defensively, we were also top. Gardener Minshew was neutralised and the run defence stopped James Robinson from making his mark. The Jags have generally been a ‘run to set up the pass’ team for the season and with that run threat out of the game, they forced Gardener to throw constantly. Despite only registering 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss, the defence didn’t make life easy for the Jags’ offence, whatsoever. When Stafford threw an interception deep in the Lions’ half, the defence managed to hold the Jags offence after they started their drive at the Detroit 20-yard-line. Amani Oruwariye deserves a special shout-out as well for his play during the game. DJ Chark caught 7 of 14 targets for 45 yards and made a little-to-no impact on the game with thanks to AO.


Special Teams has continued to impress us this season, particularly punter Jack Fox. Even though he’s been incredible, it was great to see he only came out twice in the game at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarters. Matt Prater, however, missed a field goal and has started to show a level of inconsistency we’ve not been used to with him as our kicker.


Positives:

  • The offence turned up both on the ground and in the air.

  • The defence was solid throughout the game.

  • Amani Oruwariye pulled out a huge game.

  • D’Andre Swift was incredibly impressive and showed Lions fans what a stud he will be in the future.

  • Didn’t blow a double-digit lead. The streak is OVER!

Negatives:

  • Failure to convert after a big defensive play.

  • Matt Stafford’s interception was poor and despite his overall good performance, raises continuous questions about his role in the franchise.


Week 7: W 23-22 @ Atlanta Falcons - (3-3) (0-2 in division)


A tough fought win in Atlanta was topped off by a clutch game-winning drive in the dying seconds of the 4th quarter. The Lions travelled 75-yards downfield in 1:04 to win the game after Todd Gurley failed to not score a TD. I know, right?


With just over 1 minute left on the clock and the Falcons in prime position to take the game being 1st and Goal at the Detroit 10-yard-line, the defence allowed Todd Gurley to score on purpose so the Lions can get the ball back for one drive. Anything less than Gurley scoring would result in the Falcons being able to run down the clock and score. Todd Gurley was unable to stop himself at the ½ yard line and toppled over the plane.


The Lions and the Falcons do not know how to produce a boring game and this was no different. A high-flying offence but underachieving Falcons team entered the game 1-5 and seemingly on the way up under a new head coach. Both teams struggled to put their thumbprint on the game and take it away from the other. However, the Lions ended up 1 point winners.


I was away for this game and managed to watch most of it on my phone - but I am not fully in the know of everything and can go off limited watching and the stats available.


Offensively, 9 of our 23 points came from field goals. The offence was able to make drives work but was also often unable to convert into a TD. D’Andre Swift converted a TD on his return to Georgia (he played in college for Georgia), Golladay went for 6 receptions from 7 targets and 115-yards. Despite being able to make some big plays with Golladay, Amendola and Jones, it wasn’t a worldy of a performance by the offence. However, the final 75-yard drive with 1:04 left on the clock and no timeouts was clutch Stafford at his best. Dagger time is REAL!


Defensively, it was an impressive game I thought. The Falcons offence was tipped to rip our DBs to shreds due to their extremely good depth at WR, their TE is excellent and RB also strong. The defence gave up 3 TDs on the game, but, 1 was ‘allowed’ to go in. I was repeatedly frustrated at the missed tackles and failure to stop Matt Ryan and the Falcons in positions that would put the Lions in a great spot for the following drive.


Special teams turned up again. Matt Prater made 3 out of 4 FGs and punter Jack Fox made excellent punts when called up. Not much more could’ve been asked of the special teams.


Positives:

  • Back to .500

  • Dagger time is REAL!

  • The passing game looked threatening.

  • Strong start again

Negatives: