Five things to watch as Lions face Cards, look for first win

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia

If the Lions are going to turn around their young season after an 0-2 start, Sunday at Arizona would be a good time.

Since 1980 only 3.4 percent of NFL teams that have started 0-3 have made the playoffs.

Coach Matt Patricia, the coordinators and players this week seem focused and certainly not panicked or despondent.

“We treat everything as a one-game season. I mean, that’s what it is. We have 16 one-game seasons from that standpoint,’’ Patricia said in a Zoom conference call on Friday. “We reset. We do a good job here I think of resetting every Monday and making sure that when we get done with the game from the previous week, that we push forward, and we understand what we have to do to improve, and we go to work.”

The Cardinals are off to a 2-0 start, defeating San Francisco and Washington.

Five things to watch: 

1. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay is expected to make his season debut after being out with a hamstring. Of course, he’ll add another dimension to the offense which has struggled with the deep ball. He’s not Superman but he should help spark the inconsistent offense. “We’ve got a lot of really good skill players out on the field. Just one guy doesn’t make the entire team – everyone else has to go out and execute at a high level,’’ Patricia said. “We have full confidence in those guys to do that – maybe in different forms or different positions. We still expect those guys to go out and perform.”

2. Matthew Stafford hasn’t played his best so far. It is not all on him, but the offense needs him to be almost perfect. “I think he’s been solid, but I do believe that there’s some plays that we’d like to have back and we’re continuing to work on those things,’’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He’s his own hardest critic, which is always good, particularly at that position, but we can play better.”

3. The run defense needs to take a step up after two pitiful performances giving up 149 rushing yards to the Bears and a whopping 259 yards to the Packers. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching it, and we’ve got to do a better job executing it. That’s it,’’ defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said. “We could go round and round and talk about what’s disappointing or what I saw – it doesn’t really matter at this point. It’s my job to get in the meeting room, point it out. It’s my job to get the players to believe in it and go out and execute it better.’’

4. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is red-hot. He’s completing 66.7 percent of his passes and has rushed for 159 yards in two games, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. He converted a third-and-17 on the ground against the 49ers. “When you have that ability on your call sheet because the players that are on the field, that is a whole other level of difficulty that you have to try and defend against,’’ Patricia said. “I mean, third-and-17, you’re thinking you’re walking off the field and making them punt, but not with him. He’s too dangerous.’’ Of course, the Lions quarterback pressure is lacking (I’m being nice) so Murray will pose a huge challenge.

5. For a few years the Lions run game has been pathetic, but they’ve taken a step up in the first two games this season. The addition of Adrian Peterson is huge. Rookie D’Andre Swift will just get better and Kerryon Johnson looks healthy. In the opening losses the Lions have rushed for 138 yards against the Bears and 89 at Green Bay. Peterson, who has 138 rushing yards and 6.4 yards per carry, has been beneficial so far.

Prediction: Cardinals 41, Lions 27

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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