Five things to know as Detroit Lions open home season against L.A. Chargers

No such thing as a must-win game in the second week of the NFL season, but this is close.

The Lions open their home season against the Los Angeles Chargers at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Ford Field. Detroit is coming off a fourth-quarter collapse that led to a 27-27 tie with the lowly Arizona Cardinals to open the season.

Less than 13 percent of NFL teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Not sure about 0-1-1 starts but it can’t be good.

“I feel very confident right now that the team is in a good mental space as far as preparing for the Chargers,’’ Patricia said this week.

Much of the start-of-the-season optimism about this bunch of Lions disappeared with that tie. Patricia wasn’t hired to tie games.

Onward.

Five things to know about Sunday’s game:

1. Matthew Stafford seems unrattled about the whole trust issue that was apparent when a timeout was called from the sidelines while the game clock was ticking down. If Stafford felt a timeout was needed, he would have signalled for one. Stafford downplayed the incident this week as did Patricia. Stafford is a pro who has been through a myriad of bad situations in his 10-plus seasons in Detroit. This should not affect his play one bit. He said he was over it while the media had not let it go.

2. The defense must find answers for the fourth-quarter collapse against the Cardinals. While solid in first three quarters, they appeared to let up in the fourth even though that’s been denied. If Jarrad Davis returns after missing the opener, that certainly could help boost the whole defense but Davis didn’t do much at Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday. It’s quite a different scenario going against veteran quarterback Philip Rivers compared to rookie Kyler Murray. “Last (week) we went into that thing kind of blind, not knowing what was going on. But Philip has seen everything, he’s seen every coverage, every defense, there’s not going to be anything you can do to fool him,’’ safety Quandre Diggs said. “We’ve just got to be on our Ps and Qs and be ready to go.’’

3. Phillip Rivers is still Phillip Rivers after passing for 333 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. He will be without tight end Hunter Henry who is out for the season after suffering a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee in the opener. Henry had four catches for 60 yards in that game. Rivers’ two biggest targets are wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler who had a pair of touchdown catches in the opener. Allen earns top praise from Patricia who calls him an unbelievable athlete with great route-running ability: “His ability to cut to release off the line of scrimmage to really kind of move the defenders at the line to get open, get into space. His top of the route quickness – he’s got some subtleties in there. His head-turns, his shoulder-leans, and some of the ways he skips off the line of scrimmage he has some unorthodox releases too that are just extremely difficult to defend against.’’ 

4. The offensive line, in particular Taylor Decker must play better. Patricia was asked about Decker’s game on Friday and replied, ““I think the team had a tough day.” Sunday the offensive line will be facing pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram who each had a sack in the opener. It will also help if the Lions can establish a run game early. Kerryon Johnson averaged just 3.1 yards per carry (16 for 49 yards) in the tie. Decker was limited in practice this week with a back injury and is questionable for Sunday. Not much depth at left tackle so would expect to possibly see Tyrell Crosby or Kenny Wiggins start on the left side if Decker is out.

5. Coaching is key once again. Patricia and his team have to do better. Be aggressive and attack for four quarters, not three. Make adjustments throughout the game. It’s Coaching 101, but sometimes it’s not so apparent to those not on the sidelines. Patricia said there is no extra pressure this week to see if his team can bounce back from a tie. “Nope. Every game – we’ve got 16 of them – they’re all high anxiety games,’’ the coach said.

PREDICTION: Lions 27, Chargers 24. (Wouldn’t bet the house on it, but Lions are at home, Chargers playing at 9 a.m. their time. Both sides of the ball and special teams have to prove they are better than their fourth-quarter showing last week.)

Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels happy to call Ford Field home

As member of Packers for 7 years he’s quite familiar

ALLEN PARK — Mike Daniels is no stranger to Ford Field.

As a defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers for seven seasons he’s quite familiar with the Detroit Lions’ home field.

On Sunday, Daniels will play his first regular season game as a member of the Lions when they face the Los Angeles Chargers.

“Ford Field was always one of my favorite places to come and play. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the dome —  it’s loud, it’s exciting and that giant Pepsi bottle, that’s pretty cool,’’ Davis said on Friday. 

“The touchdown song used to annoy me, now I’m excited to hearing it. I’m really excited to be able to play out here, excited to get in front of a new fan base and be on their side for once,’’ Daniels said.”I’ve lost here quite a few times, the atmosphere here is definitely conducive to the home team winning.’’

Two games stand out in his memory. He remembers getting embarrassed on Thanksgiving. That was in 2013 when the Lions won 40-10. 

The other one vivid in his memory is the 2015 Hail Mary game — also known as the Miracle in Motown — when the Packers won on a Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers with no time left on the clock. 

“I remember just straight up getting whooped on the last two years,’’ Daniels said. “But I’m excited to be on this side of it.’’

Detroit Lions safety Quandre Diggs is huge fan of Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers

Chargers visit Ford Field in home opener on Sunday

It’s difficult to find an NFL safety who will openly admit his admiration and love for a quarterback he will be facing on Sunday.

That’s just how it is with Lions safety Quandre Diggs who will be looking across the line of scrimmage at Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday at Ford Field.

Diggs’ brother, Quentin Jammer, who played 11 seasons with the Chargers (2002-2012), is the connection.

“I’ve always been a Philip guy, that’s one of my brother’s favorite teammates, he’s one of my favorite quarterbacks. I just love his passion, I love everything about Philip,’’ Diggs said on Wednesday. “I’ve been watching Philip — he got drafted in ’04, he probably started in ‘06 or ‘07 — I’ve been watching him since.’’

Diggs wasn’t done.

“I freaking love, love Philip, I love everything about him. Great family man, great dude,’’ Diggs said. “Of course he’s met me a few times, when I was a young buck. The first time we played him I went up and just told him who I was, he said, ‘I know it.’  Me and my brother look alike so I’m sure it’s crazy for him.’’

Diggs’ first game as a rookie in 2013 was against the Chargers in the opener.

“It was at Qualcomm where I went to so many games watching my brother play. It’s going to be weird seeing those colors across from me,’’ Diggs said. “At the end of the day I’m a Detroit Lion and I love everything about it.’’

His brother will be at Sunday’s game.

“It will be dope for him to be around the game. He’s still around, he still goes to Chargers’ events — drives up to LA. It’s dope, man,’’ Diggs said. 

Rivers, who has nine kids, used to live down the street from Jammer.

“It’s crazy how these things work together. He was one of my brother’s favorite teammates. You can ask him right now who his favorite Charger is and he’s going to tell you Philip. He loves the guy, Philip loves him back and I love Philip,’’ Diggs said. “… I enjoy these moments from a kid watching him. In my mind he’s a Hall of Famer. Me growing up watching him, it’s amazing how it’s my turn to go up against him now.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)