ALLEN PARK — Frustration among the 1-4 Lions is not unexpected. Even though this is early for an NFL bye week, it may be perfect timing for this bunch. Many of them need to heal physically and they all need to examine what has led to this train-wreck of a start.
The 29-0 loss to the Patriots just put an emphasis on the shortcomings on both sides of the ball.
The offense imploded after good showings in the first four games. The defense, which is ranked last in the NFL, slightly improved, according to coach Dan Campbell.
One of the team leaders, running back Jamaal Williams, gave a speech during training camp that was featured on ‘Hard Knocks.” His anger showed after the team just won three games a year ago.
He has not given up on his teammates or coaches.
“I sense the disappointment, we don’t do this, we don’t work everyday for us to come out and be 1-4, we don’t accept losing, I don’t accept losing. I’ll never get used to losing. Losing will never be – that (is something) I feel in this locker room right now that we’ll get used to. I understand the status of this team the last few years,’’ Williams said on Monday.
“For me I’ve only been here for two years and, for me, I feel like this team can be very great. We can be good and have a good winning season, we can go to the playoffs, we can win a whole Super Bowl,’’ Williams said. “That’s my mindset because I’m here, I see these people every day. I see my teammates, I see my coaches, I see these people every day.’’
Still for Williams and everyone, including Campbell, the game against the Cowboys in Dallas on Oct. 23 is the total focus.
The one game at a time approach is not exactly a novel idea, but not many alternatives. No one in the Lions’ building seems to doubt this team has the work ethic. Great, but it doesn’t always lead to wins.
Center Frank Ragnow said they don’t necessarily have to work harder, but maybe work smarter and trust each other more.
“The biggest thing we’re missing right now is complementary football. I know that’s coach-speak but it’s real,’’ Ragnow said. “Last week as an offense we scored 45 and the defense struggled. This week we put the defense in a lot of tough spots. We need to be able to have each other’s back so we can have the flow of the game. We’re a young team and we need to figure that out.’’
Campbell’s message about the next game being key, working hard and playing smart has gotten through to at least some of the team. It shows in their words to the media.
“Everybody is in the same boat, everybody is upset, everybody is frustrated, nobody likes losing here. I think everybody knows we’re better than 1-4, but we haven’t shown that collectively,’’ Campbell said on Monday. “In pieces we have, but I also know what kind of group of guys we have in this locker room. Brad (Holmes) and I built it that way. These guys are not going to lay down, they’re not going to give up, it’s a good group of guys, we have to regroup, we have the bye to do that, make adjustments, figure out what we can do better, how do we use our personnel, what do we do to maximize the personnel.’’
Immediately after the game he said he thought the defensive played better — they only gave up 29 points instead of the average of 35-plus.
“Watching the tape, the defense played much better. I felt like we stopped the bleeding from what we’ve been going through the last couple weeks,’’ Campbell said. “Good in the red zone, good on third down, good in the run — aside from two runs they popped when we didn’t fit the gaps right,’’ Campbell said. “We gave ourselves a chance really for what we were getting ready to play and the style they were going to play. I thought we did what we needed to do.’’
Due to injuries during the game, they were so critically short on defensive backs.
“The late touchdown was tough. We had (Chase) Lucas playing safety. He had never played safety and Bobby (Price) is out there at corner and they had got us,’’ Campbell said. “Those guys will learn from it, they got put in tough spots particularly Lucas.’’
The bye week should give many of the injured time to heal.