Five reasons why Lions hit ‘rock bottom’ in 29-0 loss at New England

Nothing went right for the Detroit Lions in the 29-0 loss at the New England Patriots.

It was the worst overall showing so far this season and dropped them to 1-4. Detroit’s defense has been horrid every week and on Sunday the Patriots’ defense made sure the Lions offense was ineffective. The offense that had been averaging 35 points per game was nowhere to be found.

“To me it’s as bad as it gets, it’s the worst, this is where we’re at. Sometimes it’s going to get bad before it gets better. I believe we hit rock bottom, so now the only place to go is back up,’’ coach Dan Campbell told the media afterward. 

The Lions have a bye week before they get back in action at Dallas on Oct. 23.

“We’re going to get some guys back, I’m going to look at everything top to bottom which I have time to do for the bye,’’ Campbell said. “I’ve seen it too many times, I’ve been in this league too long as a player and coach. I’ve seen teams start out rocky and it’s doom and gloom and all of a sudden they win one and they win the next one and win the next one. I told them all they have to do is win the first one.’’

Five of the reasons the Lions lost:

1. Once again the Lions defense looked unprepared. And from the get-go, the offense looked out of sync too. “Our offense has been pretty steady, played pretty well and this was a day we didn’t do well. We really never got in a true rhythm, we couldn’t convert so we couldn’t stay on the field,’’ Campbell said. After the loss to the Seahawks a week ago, Campbell said he would take a deep dive into everything. The defense looked different – cornerback Amani Oruwariye was a healthy scratch – but they made rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe look pretty darned good. 

2. The Lions’ offensive line had been mostly effective in the first four games, but they could not control Matthew Judon who had two sacks and more pressures on Jared Goff. He beat Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell on the sacks. “Judon is a good player and we knew coming in, we did a significant amount of chipping and nudging to his side, but I didn’t necessarily feel like he wrecked the game,’’ Campbell said. “When things don’t go well in your protection, there are a number of reasons and it’s all encompassing between protection, it’s between the backs and the quarterback. But he’s a good player. I don’t feel like he wore our tackles out or anything like that. He’s a good player, we knew it coming in.’’  Logan Stenberg started at right guard which was a surprise since it seemed a healthy Evan Brown would be a better option. In the second half, Brown moved into the spot. 

3. Campbell had to be somewhat aggressive on fourth down because he has a new kicker and obviously does not have faith in him. The Lions were 0-for-6 on fourth-down attempts. So add the lost fumble by Goff and the interception thrown by Goff and they basically had eight  turnovers. That’s unconscionable. From those turnovers, the Pats scored 20 points.

4. Injuries on the secondary did play a role. Savion Smith, Will Harris, Jeff Okudah, DeShon Elliott and Ifeatu Melifonwu exited with injuries, although Elliott returned. Smith was taken off the field in an ambulance to a local hospital. The team reported that he had feeling in his extremities, but was being checked for a neck injury. It was a scary moment for both teams. No one appeared to be at fault. Also this secondary took a huge loss when it lost Tracy Walker to an Achilles two weeks ago. Perhaps some of those injured defensive backs will have time to recover during the bye week.

5. It’s kind of getting old, but the coaching staff gets much of the blame for this 1-4 start, although GM Brad Holmes deserves his share too. The manpower on defense was questionable from Day One. Campbell often says they have to improve on a daily basis. He sees things that we don’t. “As bad as it looks, I also know what we’re capable of. It’s hard to say that when you look at the score, but we got better defensively, we played better today than we’ve played. Is it good enough? No. But we did play better,’’ Campbell said. “And offensively we’re better than what we just put out there on tape. Yes, it’s bad. As a total team, 29-0 to this point in the season, it’s as bad as it’s gotten.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

(Next up: Bye week, then the Lions play at the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 23.)


Lions backup QB Nate Sudfeld practices, starts to learn offense

Tim Boyle and David Blough had every opportunity to become the Lions backup quarterback for this season. Instead both were released and the Lions signed Nate Sudfeld who was cut due to a numbers issue by the 49ers.

“They just didn’t quite make the jump we were expecting them to make,’’ Lions GM Brad Holmes said at a Thursday press conference.

It has been a whirlwind for Sudfeld who caught a red-eye flight on Tuesday night in San Francisco, landed in Detroit at 5 a.m. Wednesday and went straight to the Lions facility for meetings and practice. He managed nine hours of sleep Wednesday night and was feeling rested and ready for practice on Thursday morning.

“It happened fast, but I’m super-pumped to be here,’’ said Sudfeld who wore No. 12 which was last worn by Boyle.

He’s got a lot to learn and a short time to learn it with the regular season preparation starting next week. The season opener is Sept. 11 against the Eagles at Ford Field.

Sudfeld, who is in his seventh NFL season, has learned from other quarterbacks while at the 49ers, Eagles and Washington.

“A lot of concepts I’ve definitely run and done before, there’s a lot of new verbiage and memorization things so definitely going to continue to study, definitely a lot of carryover,’’ Sudfeld said. “There’s some different concepts I haven’t done before but I love how much we do at the line of scrimmage and how much confidence they have in Jared (Goff) and the quarterbacks getting us into the right play. Really looking forward to the opportunity.’’

Sudfeld, 28, knows Goff although they’ve never been on the same team. They have the same agent, both are from northern California and came out for the NFL draft in the same year. Occasionally they have worked out together in the offseason.

“It’s been a beautiful journey that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of and just try to get better every year, the older you get you just want to stack years and keep improving as a player,’’ Sudfeld said. “All the other stuff it’s just a matter of time, it will take care of itself.’’

Holmes didn’t address the situation, but if Blough clears waivers he could be signed to the Lions’ practice squad.

“We did what is best for the organization at this time. There were a lot of different options. You can trade a bunch of draft capital for a backup quarterback, there’s a lot of different options. We did the best thing for Detroit,’’ Holmes said.

Holmes says qualities in Hutchinson, Williams have been overlooked

Lions GM Brad Holmes was all smiles after he was able to nab two players in the first round of the NFL draft that he considers game-changers.

With the second overall pick on Thursday night, the Lions drafted defensive end Aidan Hutchinson who played at Michigan. Then Holmes traded up to the 12th pick to select wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama.

Hutchinson was a no-brainer. He and DE Travon Walker were likely to go 1-2 in some order on Thursday night. Indeed, Walker was drafted by Jacksonville with the top pick.

Hutchinson had 14 sacks for the Wolverines last season. He’s a leader, a high-energy player. He seems like a perfect fit for a Dan Campbell coached team.

But, there’s more.

“I think what gets lost is how effective he is in the run game. It’s a three-down league and I think what he does in the run game is overlooked in a good way because of the sacks,’’ Holmes said.

Hutchinson, who played at Dearborn Divine Child, is a hometown favorite.

“I know he’ll make his mark in this community, he already has so it’s going to continue to trend up from here. We’re thrilled with what he’s going to bring to our organization,’’ Holmes said.

Holmes had looked before the start of the draft about trading up for Williams.

“This guy is tough, he’s gritty, he’s a dog, he loves football. He just fits what we’re about,’’ Holmes said.

He also thinks Williams has the ability to be a game-changer, but the Lions have to do their part to set him up for success.

Holmes would not share a timetable for Holmes’ return from injury — he tore his ACL in the national championship game. 

“We feel very good with where we expect him to return,’’ Holmes said.

On Friday, the Lions have one second-round pick at 46th overall and one in the third round at 97th overall.

Hutchinson and Williams are expected at the Lions facility on Friday.