All eyes will be on Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell in his first game in charge. He’s beyond excited for the opportunity.
The Lions’ last two losses were the final straw and cost Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn their jobs.
At 4-7 the Lions will face the reeling Chicago Bears (5-6) who have lost five straight after a 5-1 start.
It’s perfect that Bevell gets his first chance with an NFC North battle. After All he’s spent much of his NFL career in the division with stops in Green Bay (2000-2005) and Minnesota (2006-2010).
“This division means a lot to me. I’ve kind of joked (that) I feel like it’s my division. I’ve been in it for the entirety of my career for the most part. Just great football – all of the black and blue days, even when it was not the North, and it was different names,’’ Bevell said. “The rivalries that are here, I guess the history of football – some of the greatest places and organizations that are in football, and with some of the greatest people.’’
The Lions and Bears opened the season at Ford Field. The Lions held a 23-6 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter. Detroit’s defense collapsed, allowing Mitchell Trubisky to throw three late touchdown passes for the 27-23 win. It was definitely a sign of things to come for the next 10 weeks.
Now change is in the air for the Lions.
“I’m asking the guys to come in with a refreshed attitude, ready to work, No. 1, but ready to have a good time and let them play with their hair on fire. Let them play fast; let them play free,’’ Bevell said. “We’ll worry about the end result at the end, but we’re going to take it one game at a time. Hopefully we like what happens at the end.”
Five things to watch:
1. Bevell will still make the offensive calls, but he’ll be on his own with no guidance from Patricia. Expect to see him open up the offense and unleash Matthew Stafford more than usual. “In the last game, we did have a little fun. We were able to hit the one, the reverse, triple hand-back to Matthew (Stafford); we threw it back to Matthew on another one,’’ Bevell said. “So we’re going to continue to try to do that, like I said, it’s fun winning. It’s fun moving the ball down the field. We have playmakers, we just have to get it in their hands,’’ Bevell said.
2. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) will be out again and running back D’Andre Swift is questionable. Still the offense should be able to move against the Bears’ defense which gave up 393 yards to the Packers last week including 182 rushing yards. “We have talented players. We haven’t had all those players all year, but like I said, the game doesn’t care,’’ Bevell said. “So we have to do the best that we can with all the things we have available to us. But I want us to play more consistent. I want us to continue to find those explosive plays that we haven’t been as consistent as we’d like to be in finding those.’’
3. Cory Undlin remains the defensive coordinator. While Bevell has always worked on the offensive side of the ball, certainly he and Undlin have talked philosophy. “The mindsets of defensive players and offensive players are different. So, it’s fun to be in (the meetings). I have a lot of respect for Cory. From the day that he walked in here, I felt like we almost had an immediate kinship anyway, so our conversations have been great, they’ve been easy, they’ve been free flowing,’’ Bevell said. “So, we were just down there before I came up here talking about the game plan and what he’s talking about doing. I would definitely be informed, but like I said, I want him to feel free to do what he thinks is best for our players to put them in the best situations to be successful because he knows those guys inside and out right now.”
4. Trubisky will get the start again.This is bad news for the Lions since Trubisky seems to play his best football against Detroit. In six career starts against Detroit, Trubisky has thrown for 1,601 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions (106.0 quarterback rating) — including four consecutive games with at least three touchdowns and a passer rating over 100.0, per ESPN.com.
5. Bevell’s message to the team is to look forward, first to the Bears and then the final four games. He was first allowed (due to COVID-19 restrictions) to meet with the team in person on Wednesday. “ I was happy to see them face-to-face. I could feel energy. There was excitement in the room. Hopefully I did a good job speaking to them, but really my message to them was about perspective and changing our perspective and turning that thing forward.,’’ Bevell said. “There’s no rearview mirror. We’re looking forward, moving ahead, and we’re straight dialed in on Chicago. So, that was my message.”
Prediction: Lions 27, Bears 24