Five games, five losses. Looking for their first win, the Lions are back at Ford Field on Sunday to face the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2).
If you’re thinking the Lions are feeling sorry for themselves because they’ve lost two of the last three games with 50-yard plus field goals and have the distinction of being the only team that’s been on the losing end of that situation.
“I think you’re always affected by (losing). I don’t think you can not be affected by it. It’s good to be mad. It’s good to be pissed off. It’s good to be wanting to be better,’’ quarterback Jared Goff said this week. “I think the scary thing is if it went numb, right? If everyone’s out here just, ‘Oh, whatever.’ I don’t believe that’s the case and I don’t believe that will ever be the case. So, it’s definitely a thing that we have amongst us, that energy, that forward thinking of, ‘We can’t keep letting these get to us.’”
It’s another week which means a few more players placed on injured reserve and the positive thought that this train will get back on track sometime soon.
Five things to watch on Sunday:
1. Getting off to a better offensive start might just save the heartache of a last second winning field goal from the opponent. But the Lions have been outscored 82-33 in the first half of the five games and ball security too often is just a dream. “We’ve had four turnovers in the last couple of weeks in scoring territory. When we improve in that area – and that can start with me – the play selections, our calls when we get in those areas, but it also starts with our protection and our quarterback decision making,’’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “We can all get better in that area and we plan on doing that, but having four turnovers in scoring territory, that’s been tough not coming away with points in those situations.”
2. The defense, which at times looks painfully young, has had a few good stretches. Just ask coordinator Aaron Glenn who said he is proud of the defense. “Each week, you continue to see improvement. It’s something we talk about each week about how we want this defense to operate, to be able to fight the way that they fight,’’ Glenn said. “You’re starting to see a little swagger with them. You’re starting to see a little bit more anticipation as far as plays are concerned. Each week – for the last three weeks, we’ve forced a turnover. We’re hitting the quarterback, we’re getting sacks.’’
3. A big reason for the defense’s success so far is Charles Harris who has a four-game sack streak going. “First and foremost is (his) talent has always been there. A lot of times as a coach, you have to make sure you can match that talent with a scheme that allows him to go out there and be successful, and that’s one thing we as coaches we pride ourselves on is to make sure that as much as we can, each player makes sure whatever they do best, you put them in those positions to be able to successful and we try to do that with Charles,’’ Glenn said. “Right now, he’s hitting the quarterback and getting the sacks that we expect him to get and we want to continue to do it with him along with everybody else and what they do well …:
4. Although Campbell would never use it as an excuse, his coaching staff is still getting to know each other in its first season together. But he thinks there has been growth so far. “We have because it’s – first of all, just being able to work together and get through all of these – get through just all of the ins and outs of working with one another, then working with me, game day, and building game plans together,’’ Campbell said. “You figure a lot out about each other. Really, no different than players, but what the strength of your staff is. Some excel at different areas than others and, how do you blend that and how do they complement each other? And so, it’s evolving and you’re figuring it out and that’s as big of a part of it as the players as well. And then inside of that, you do. You get the injuries, and so you’re kind of adapting to that and where you go. It’s getting better, but it is. It’s a process.”
5. With a young team there are many learning situations, including closing out a game: “I think you have to try to put yourself in as many of those situations as you can in preparation for games. But then, yeah, you just – the only way to gain confidence is to prove you can do it in a game and be there and have found a way to finish out because now you know what that feels like,’’ Campbell said. “You know what it looks like, you understand what the pressure is and you overcome it. You find a way to make that one extra play, or that one less mistake that your opponent made to win. So, absolutely. You are eventually trying to train yourself to find a way to win those games and understand the pressure that you’re put under to perform and not crack.”
PREDICTION: Bengals 34, Lions 24