Five things to watch as Lions look to snap road losing streak at Bears; plus my prediction

Lions DC Aaron Glenn

Coming off a home win against the Packers, the Lions have a chance to snap that ugly 13-game losing streak on the road when they face the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Coach Dan Campbell said he might not present it to his team that way.

“Boy that’s brutal, when you just said that I haven’t thought of it like that. That’s rough, I think we will talk about that now that you’ve – yeah, no look I think it’s this. I don’t think – I think what we talk about is, ‘Hey, man first road win. This is an opportunity to get the first road win,’’ Campbell said. 

The coach said to get success on the road it takes composure and discipline. “You know it’s going to be loud. There will be things that are going to happen, momentum will shift and not to buckle under that pressure is big. And then I think from a coaching standpoint, we’ve got to keep it – we’ve got to have enough ammo, but we’ve got to keep it simple enough to where we don’t put ourselves in a bind. You put in too much stuff, for example offense, man it’s good. You’ve got all these things you want to attack, but yet, man, if it’s a lot of kills and shifts and motions to the extent where it takes away from you getting lined up, and just doing your job playing fast, playing efficiently. That’s where you’ve got to be careful of,’’ Campbell said.

The Lions have not won on the road under Campbell. Their  last road win was on Dec. 6, 2020, at Chicago with a 34-30 mark.

“We both kind of have our backs against the wall a little bit, so there will be that fight and that fight to the bitter end, and you have to prepare for that,’’ quarterback Jared Goff said. “There are some teams that you don’t get that with, but we’re both kind of in the mix of this adversity, trying to pull our ways out of it. It’s going to be a fight. It’ll be a good one, and we’ll be ready.”

Five things to watch as the Lions (2-6) face the Bears (3-6):

1. The Lions defense, which is coming off its best game this season, has had some trouble with mobile quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts and Geno Smith. Facing Bears’ Justin Fields, who had 178 rushing yards against the Dolphins last week, will present another challenge. “I think over the past three weeks, they adjusted on how they operate with this ( Fields) quarterback, and he’s playing at a high level right now. And I would say in the run and really in the pass game when you think about it, man, he’s not getting the yards that you’d want, but he’s being efficient with what he’s doing,’’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. “And I’ll tell you what, these two backs they have, I mean they’re really good now. They’re really, really good, and the thing is they break tackles, they can find the seam, so we really have to be disciplined.’’

2. Continue the improvements the defense made last week. “Really excited about the way the defense played, but I guess more excited of the fact that our defense was on the field at a critical time at the end of the game to put the game away, and that was something that our guys needed because belief starts to stick,’’ Glenn said. “And I’ve said this to you guys before, belief is a powerful drug, so that’s something that we’ve got to continue to do, and I’m proud of the way our guys fought. I’m proud of the energy, the execution, just overall, the sideline, it was outstanding. And this has got to be one of the better games we’ve had since I’ve been here, so I’m looking forward to more games like that. And then just continue to look forward to practice, so we can continue to just get better.”

3. While the defense was on fire the offense played just well enough to win but has seen a lack of explosive plays in the last two weeks. “I want to say just by our metrics there were five explosives two weeks ago and then only four last week, which really we’ve been averaging over eight early in the season there,’’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said. “So, the explosive game hasn’t been there and that’s not just throwing the ball down the field or getting the big runs. It’s also some of these opportunities we have to get the ball in our hands short and making a tackler miss and creating something that way.’’ In their metrics a run is considered explosive at 12 or more yards while it’s 16 or more for a pass.

4. While D’Andre Swift is still not 100 percent, Jamaal Williams has been logging the bulk of the work in the run game. “I think since we got him even a year ago, he’s been the model of consistency for us offensively. He runs hard. It might not be flashy or sexy all the time, but he finds a way to always be falling forward when he’s being tackled,’’ Johnson said. “He’ll find creases. He’s got great vision, and he’s shown the ability to break tackles and potentially have some explosive runs for us too. So, minus the one game, the Dallas game, I mean he has been exactly what we want from a physical, downhill running back.”

5. One of the reasons the LIons’ defense had success last week was rookie safety Kerby Joseph playing his best game. ”Since he started, which has been about four weeks now, he’s just every week gotten a little bit better and I think that’s what it says is that he’s putting in the work and he’s growing,’’ Campbell said. “And that’s – just as far as the players, it continues to trend that way is the whole idea, but that’s a credit to Brad (Holmes) and our scouting staff, to be able to project a player like that and hopefully he continues to trend that way.’’

INS AND OUTS: Wide receiver Josh Reynolds (back) is out after not practicing all week. Tackle Matt Nelson (calf) is doubtful. Four are questionable: Joseph (concussion protocol), safety Ifeatu Melifonwh (ankle), cornerback Chase Lucas (ankle) and LB Malcolm Rodriguez (elbow).

(Prediction: Bears 31, Lions 21)

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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