Five reasons Detroit Lions beat lowly Jaguars

That was more like it. The Detroit Lions picked up their second win with a 34-16 trouncing of the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday.

Coming off the bye and with a 1-3 record, it was nearly a must-win game for Detroit and coach Matt Patricia.

The defense came up huge as did the offense. Get this, it was the first time in nearly seven seasons that the Lions had both a 100-yard rusher (D’Andre Swift, 116 yards) and 100-yard receiver (Kenny Golladay, 105 yards) in a game. Last time was Nov. 28, 2013, when Calvin Johnson had 101 receiving yards and Reggie Bush ran for 117.

Five reasons the Lions won:

1. The Jaguars are just a lousy team on offense, defense and special teams. Heck their kicker was in his first NFL game. Quarterback Gardner Minshew showed flashes, but he’s just a second-year guy trying to find his way. It would’ve been embarrassing if the Lions lost.

2. The Lions defense which has struggled to stop the run in the first four games this season found a way to contain James Robinson and the rest of the Jaguars, holding them to 44 rushing yards. Robinson had a dozen carries for just 29 yards. The defense also pressured Minshew which is something we haven’t seen enough of this season. But it worked because they stopped the run. 

3. Running back D’Andre Swift had a career game that included a pair of rushing touchdowns and a 54-yard scamper on first down on the offense’s first play from scrimmage. It was a sign of things to come. It was a career game for Swift, the rookie. He finished with 14 carries for 116 yards.

4. Matthew Stafford had his best game this season despite at least four drops from his receivers. The banged-up line prevented him from being sacked after a dozen sacks in the first four game. Of course it helped that the run game was effective. He seemed more sure of himself. The Jaguars were the only NFL team Stafford had never thrown a touchdown against. He took care of that with a nifty pass to T.J. Hockenson. He finished 19 of 31 for 223 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Stafford even threw a sidearm pass on third down — maybe for old time’s sake. (His wife Kelly posted on Instagram that move reminded her of when he tosses her a diaper when their other 3 daughters are swarming him.)

5. Let’s give coach Matt Patricia a little credit. He had the team ready, corrected past mistakes and kept his foot on the gas. His seat is a little less hot heading into next Sunday’s game at Atlanta. This win does not solve all of the problems and he knows that, but perhaps it’s a first step.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Lions rushed for 3 touchdowns which equals the number of rushing TDs from the first four games total. … Detroit was 4-5 in the Red Zone while Jacksonville was 2-5. … Lions led in total net yards, 403-275. … Detroit rushed for 180 yards and held Jaguars to 44 rushing yards. … Rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah led defense with 8 tackles, Jamie Collins had 7. … Trey Flowers had the only sack of Minshew. 

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Detroit Lions wrap up yet another losing decade

Shaping up to be worst season since 2009

If the Detroit Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday — and remember they’re 13-point underdogs — this 2019 season will be the worst of this decade for the franchise.

A loss will give the Lions a 3-12-1 record, the least number of wins in this 10-year stretch. 

As we head into 2020, let’s take one last glance at yet another Lions’ decade of futility.

The 72-86-1 record from 2010 through this season so far, included four winning seasons along with two wild-card games under coach Jim Caldwell and one with Jim Schwartz at the helm.

On a positive note, it’s much better than the previous decade (2000-2009) when the Lions posted a 42-118 record with only one winning season (9-7 in 2000) and no trips to the playoffs.

Ten years, zero division titles, three coaches, three general managers, one Matthew Stafford, one Calvin Johnson, more losses than wins and still no playoff victory. 

Stafford and long-snapper Don Muhlbach are the only roster constants since 2010.

Stafford, who turns 32 in February, became one of only five quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a season in 2011 with 5,038 yards. The next season he came up just 23 yards shy of 5,000 despite the fact the team went 4-12. The only two seasons he didn’t reach at least 4,000 yards were in 2018 (3,777 yards) and this year when he played in only eight games (2,499 yards).

Calvin Johnson, a future Hall of Famer, left after nine seasons and 11,619 receiving yards. He finished six straight seasons (2010-15) with at least 1,000 receiving yards shattering all previous franchise records. Like Barry Sanders, Johnson’s gifts were wasted at a time the Lions should have made the most of them. And also like Sanders, he was a joy to watch.

Three coaches defined this decade.

In 2010, the Lions were coming off a 2-14 season and hopes were high that coach Jim Schwartz in his second season would turn the page for the franchise. It was a tough task, rebuilding the roster, adding new schemes and trying to change the culture and reputation of the team still suffering since the 0-16 2008 season.

Schwartz was sent packing with a 27-37 record after the 2013 season. He did start the turn-around from the worst in the league, but did not get the team over the hump and into the land of NFL respectability.

Coach Jim Caldwell (2014-17) owns the only winning record (36-28) of the three coaches in the decade. He guided the Lions to an 11-5 record and wild-card playoff game in his first season (2014). In his four seasons Caldwell led the team to two playoff appearances. After a 9-7 season in 2017 and no playoff berth, he was fired. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said the team was better than its 9-7 record. 

Quinn and Matt Patricia knew each other well from their days with the New England Patriots. Patricia was the well-respected Patriots’ defensive coordinator who had never been a head coach at any level.

So far Patricia is 9-21-1. If they lose to the Packers, the Lions will have three less wins than they did in his first year (6-10).

Certainly improvement was expected, but the defense has been a mess and stands at 29th in the league for yards allowed per game. Still owner Martha Firestone Ford has guaranteed Patricia and Quinn another season to become playoff contenders.

The last playoff win was on Jan. 5, 1992.

The last NFL championship was in 1957.

The Lions’ faithful await as the page turns on yet another disappointing decade.

RECORDS

  • 2010: 6-10
  • 2011: 10-6 (wild-card game)
  • 2012: 4-12
  • 2013: 7-9
  • 2014: 11-5 (wild-card game)
  • 2015: 7-9
  • 2016: 9-7 (wild-card game)
  • 2017: 9-7
  • 2018: 6-10
  • 2019: 3-11-1 (so far)

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford has found recent success at Green Bay

Five things to know about Stafford’s records against Packers

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford has played well against the Packers in recent years, with the Lions winning four straight against them and three of their last four at Lambeau Field.

The Detroit Lions quarterback will get his next shot on Monday night when the Lions play the Packers at Green Bay in their first NFC North matchup of the season.

“The toughest part about playing Lambeau — I say it all the time — is playing the Packers. It’s not the environment, it’s not all that, you’ve got to play the Packers they’re a good football team,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday. “They’ve got a really good defense this year, got an offense that’s explosive, they’ve got a great quarterback. They do a good job of playing great at home, it’s on us to play a little better.’’

The Packers (4-1) are tops in the NFC North with the Lions (2-1-1) in second place. It’s the first division game this season for Detroit.

“All the games count and no doubt a division game against a really good football team, it’s going to be a fun atmosphere. Monday night will be a whole bunch of fun. We’re going to have some young guys that I’m sure first time playing on Monday will remember it for a long time playing at Lambeau, excited to get out playing again,’’ Stafford said.

He can climb up the record charts with a good game.

Five things to know:

1. Stafford has seven wins against the Packers, tied for the 12th-most in NFL history. A win would bump him into a tie for eighth-most. A win would also mark his fourth win at Lambeau Field which would put him in a tied for seventh all-time. He’s 7-10 all-time against Green Bay.

2. Stafford has thrown for two or more touchdown passes in nine straight games against the Packers. With two touchdown passes on Monday night he would join Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino as the only players in NFL history to throw at least two touchdowns in 10 straight games against a singular opponent.

3. With one touchdown pass, he’ll become the quarterback with the most TD passes against the Packers in NFL history. His current total of 34 is tied with Johnny Unitas. 

4. Stafford needs only 58 passing yards against Packers to move into first place all-time in that category. He is already among elite company. Three of the top five in passing yards against Green Bay are Hall of Famers: No. 1 Fran Tarkenton, No. 3 Unitas, No. 5 Bobby Layne. Also, Vinny Testaverde is at No. 4.

5. Stafford needs 352 passing yards to reach 40,000 for his career. Also he needs just four touchdown passes to reach 250 for his career. It comes as no surprise that Calvin Johnson was on the receiving end of the most (56) with Golden Tate (22) in second and Marvin Jones Jr. (19) in third. (Titus Young, a blast from the past, ranks in the top eight of receivers with most touchdown passes from Stafford with nine.)

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)