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)

Five things to watch: Lions at Jaguars

Owner Sheila Hamp was awarded the game ball from the Lions only win this season at practice this week.

Will she add another ball after Sunday’s game at the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Actually, the game ball is not a concern, but beating a 1-4 team at their home stadium tops the list.

If the 1-3 Lions, coming off a bye, can’t beat the Jaguars will coach Matt Patricia still be the coach next week?

That’s the biggest question and it’s legitimate.

Of course Patricia knows the situation. The players do too.

“For us, every week, we’re just trying to go out and compete and win and do everything that we can to get better. We come in, and we do our job. That’s what we do,’’ Patricia said on a Zoom meeting this week. “I don’t think you get into anything other than that, and you don’t ride that wave. You just try to go out and do the best you can that week.”

OK, then.

Five things to watch as Lions face Jags:

1. The offense has come out red hot, but can’t keep the fire going after the first quarter. It’s a bit of a mess. It has been lifted by a stronger ground game (thanks to Adrian Peterson), but can do better. They took a closer look at themselves and the team during the bye week.  “As far as things we can do better – I think a little bit of everything,’’ Matthew Stafford said on a Zoom call. “You look at it obviously we can be a little better in the red zone, I think we can be more efficient, more explosive, all of it. I think we’ve done a nice job in the run game, that can always be better. I think we just look at everything and find ways to make ourselves and our team better.’’

2. The 1-3 record is not all on the offense. The defense has failed to pressure quarterbacks. Sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all for a defensive line but they are an indication of whether the line is effective. In four games, the Lions have sacked opposing QBs just five times (they got to Drew Brees twice) while Stafford has gone down a dozen times. Not a great ratio.

3. Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew has played well even though they’ve lost four straight. He’s thrown 10 touchdown passes against just four interceptions, completing 69.9 percent of his passes. “I think he’s done a great job of showing that he can really be quite dynamic in the passing game. We know he’s athletic. He has a very strong arm. He does a good job with the deep balls, (he has) some phenomenal skill players around him that can run vertical, get open, big-catch-radius guys. He has that element of athleticism so they can mix in some of the read-option stuff with him too, and certainly the extended plays that he gets out of the pocket on scrambles are outstanding,’’ Patricia said. The second-year QB will pose a challenge for the Lions secondary which will be without cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring). D.J. Clark, the Jags’ top receiver is questionable with a sprained ankle.

4. Guard Joe Dahl is back after recovering from a groin injury and could get the start at center. Center Frank Ragnow (groin) was listed as questionable in Friday’s report but did make the trip to Jacksonville. If Ragnow is a go, then Patricia has to decide whether to let Dahl or Halapoulivaati Vaitai start at right guard. “I think it’s great for us to have our guys healthy and get back out there and compete. Certainly, Joe has been working really hard to get back on the field and he’s got to get out there and practice and kind of get back in the swing of things, but we know how good of a guard he is, and we know how good of a player he is for us,’’ Patricia said.

5. All the talk about consistency and execution is swell, but we’ve heard it for years. Years. Time to put it to work and beat the Jags. No more excuses.

Prediction: Lions 27, Jags 24.

Lions at Jags: Five thoughts from Matthew Stafford

Coming off the bye week, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions take to the road against the Jaguars at Jacksonville on Sunday.

Obviously 1-3 is not where the Lions want or need to be. Coach Matt Patricia’s job could ride on the outcome.

Stafford hasn’t seemed to be his usual self so far, even though his numbers aren’t bad. He’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,017 yards, 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He’s been sacked a dozen times which puts him on track for the most sacks of his career, topping 2017 when he was sacked 47 times.

Five thoughts from Stafford:

1. While he’s in his 12th NFL season, he has not lost his edge. “I feel like I’ve got as much juice as I’ve ever had, I’m fighting tooth and nail every week to try and go win it. Sometimes it happens and obviously this year it hasn’t happened enough for us,’’ Stafford said. “I still love playing this game. I still love going out there and competing. Do I hate losing? Absolutely. Does it (tick) me off and frustrate me just like everybody else in this locker room? Absolutely. When we’re in the game there’s nothing more important than trying to win.’’

2. Jacksonville has lost four straight and owns a 1-4 record. The next game will be at Atlanta (0-5) and then home to the Colts (3-2). Those records mean nothing to Stafford. “I don’t need any certain team on the schedule to be overly interested, to be honest with you,’’ Stafford said. “This is my job, my passion, what I’ve worked my entire life for. Every time there’s another (team) across from us on a Sunday and I get to go out, suit up and play I’m excited. I’m motivated. I don’t care who it is. I want to go try and win. I understand the question but for us as competitors, we just want to play good and win.’’

3. Stafford was unaware that Jacksonville, which he’s beaten both times he’s played them, is the only NFL team that he hasn’t thrown a touchdown against. “That needs to happen for sure. Calvin had 100 the one week he couldn’t practice. He had a bad knee and he could only turn right,’’ Stafford recalled. “The other one was at home, I think we had 21 rushes for 14 yards, (Blake) Bortles turned it over … I need to make that happen. Sorry for going back into the archives. I’d like to have that on a tombstone or something.’’

4. The Lions have outscored opponents 34-20 in the first quarter of games, but it’s the only quarter they’ve had the advantage. “It’s probably annoying to hear and boring, but I think the name of the game on offense is execution. I think we’ve done a nice job early in the games, executing those plays and guys were making plays that’s what puts points up and gets first downs. We just have to be more consistent in the way we execute. When we do it at a high level we’ve had some really successful great drives. We just need to do it more often.’’

5. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said footwork could be one reason Stafford has been a little off his mark this year. “I think it’s something as a quarterback you work on since you’re a little kid, you work on it every single day,’’ Stafford said. “I think it’s just being as consistent as you possibly can with it. That goes to our entire offense, the more we can be consistent the better off we’re going to be. That’s myself included. Just go back and try to make sure when everything is right in front of me, I’m right with my feet and it usually leads to a good place for our team. I think every play is different.’’

(Lions at Jaguars, 1 p.m. on Sunday, FOX and WJR-760 AM.)