Lions backup David Blough will start against Bears on Thanksgiving

ALLEN PARK — Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel seemed optimistic on Tuesday that he would start against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving. However, his hamstring will keep him out of the starting role.

David Blough, a rookie who has never played in an NFL regular season game, will get the start for the Lions at Ford Field.

Blough, who played at Purdue, was signed as an undrafted free agent last June by the Cleveland Browns and then was traded to Detroit. Driskel is expected to serve as the backup. Matthew Stafford (back) will miss his fourth straight game.

Thanksgiving spirits might not be so bright since the Lions (3-7-1) have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. They’ll face the Chicago Bears (5-6) for the second straight year 

Ready or not, they’ll be the only NFL game on national TV at 12:30 p.m.

For us, we’re going to obviously try and go out and play as hard as we can. We know how important this game is, we know how important it is to our organization, our ownership and obviously the fans,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “It’s a great privilege to be in this game. For us, we understand that, we’re very blessed to be here, I think Thanksgiving is a great time, a great week to reflect.’’

Five things to watch:

1. Certainly don’t know what to expect from Blough, although seems likely the run game will need to carry the offense. 

2. Running back Bo Scarbrough has been the highlight of the past two weeks. From the practice squad two weeks ago he has had games of 55 and 98 rushing yards. Although now defenses know to prepare for him. “It’s kind of why you just hesitate to have too many conversations about those guys and not help opponents figure out who they are ahead of time. You try to let the opponents figure it out on their own. Certainly, I think you watch Bo run and some of the things that he did last week, he’s running really hard,’’ Patricia said. The big back (6-foot-1, 235 pounds) has five more games to prove himself. He could be the answer to the question of who will back up Kerryon Johnson next season. 

3. Lions linebacker Devon Kennard thinks the defense is showing signs of improvement in recent weeks (despite four straight losses), especially against the run. But overall the defense has been ineffective and is a big reason the Lions have lost seven of the last eight. If they are close to turning it around, Thanksgiving would be a good start especially with Blough starting at quarterback.

4. Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky leads the NFL’s 29th best offense averaging just 269.3 yards per game. The quarterback has thrown just 10 touchdown passes in 10 games and three of them were in the first matchup with the Lions — one each to Ben Braunecker, Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel. He was sacked five times by the Lions in that game — perhaps a little more of that type of pressure could be applied.

5. Patricia and the players have talked a good game this week. They say they’re focused solely on the Bears and they take the season one game at a time. There’s been a lot of talk in Detroit from fans who are beyond frustrated at the lack of wins. Some of them want Patricia and/or GM Bob Quinn fired. Fans didn’t seem to expect that the Lions, who were 9-7 in 2017, would fall so low in an effort to rebuild. On Thursday at Ford Field, the team has to show the focus they discuss and they need to do it in all four quarters.

PREDICTION: Bears 23, Lions 10. Not sure the Lions can pull it together.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)

Five things to know about Lions brutal 19-16 loss to Redskins

It looked gloomy for the Detroit Lions, when the lowly Redskins took a 13-3 lead in the first half. It had been an ugly road start for the Lions on Sunday.

It got worse.

Detroit took its first lead, 16-13, early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins kicked a field goal to tie it. Then with 54 seconds remaining, Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel threw an interception, the Redskins marched 53 yards downfield and Dustin Hopkins kicked a 39-yard field goal to grab the 19-16 win.

It was a sloppy game for the Lions who have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. Their last win was on Oct. 27 when they beat the Giants. Seems like a long time ago.

It doesn’t get easier. They host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving and then play at the Vikings on Dec. 8.

Driskel, in his third start for the injured Matthew Stafford, has shown growth and his athleticism running the ball helped too. His inexperience, though, was a factor in his three interceptions.

Detroit’s defense deserves plenty of blame. 

Five things to know about the loss:

1. The loss is yet another gut punch in a horrid season. A win would have helped with the Lions’ confidence and spirits especially with a quick turn-around to play on Thanksgiving. The Redskins had only won once, their rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins was starting just his third game. Detroit’s injuries don’t count. Every team has to deal with them. The Redskins are 2-9, pretty much a laughingstock. There is no reason the Lions should have lost and yet they did.

2. Once again the Lions’ defense faded late. The Redskins’ offense struggled until their final two drives. The defense, which has struggled big-time this season, did not allow a touchdown and held the Redskins to 230 total yards. Washington’s only score came on a 91-yard touchdown return by Steven Sims. Jr. But when it counted late in the game, the Redskins were able to pick up precious yards and the win.

3. Don’t put this loss all on Driskel’s shoulders. The late interception was brutal, but the Lions should have been all over this Washington team from the get-go. Driskel was sacked six times, but the young quarterback showed moxie and finished 20 of 33 for 207 yards with three interceptions. Also he carried the ball nine times for 63 yards. No clue if Stafford will be ready to play on Thursday.

4. Running back Bo Scarbrough came up just 2 yards short of 100, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was held to 24 yards in the first half and lost a fumble, but came out hot to start the second half. He’s been quite a find for the Lions. Looking for a bright spot on this team? Look at Bo.

5. Matt Patricia has preached about limiting penalties. The Lions weren’t called for a single penalty in the first half, but finished with six for 65 yards. All the other miscues were costly too. Not only Driskel’s three interceptions, but Scarbrough’s lost fumble, Matt Prater missed a 39-yard field goal, special teams allowed a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The list is long, too long.

NEXT UP: The Lions (3-7-1) will host the Bears (5-6) on Thanksgiving. The Bears defeated the Giants, 19-14, on Sunday. In Chicago two weeks ago, the Lions lost to the Bears, 20-13. The Lions are 2-3 at Ford Field.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Washington Redskins

ALLEN PARK — It’s one of those games, the Detroit Lions should absolutely win. But this is the NFL and nothing is a certainty, especially when it involves the Lions’ struggling defense.

The Lions (3-6-1) face the lowly Redskins (1-9) at Washington, D.C., on Sunday. 

Quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) has been ruled out, giving Jeff Driskel his third straight start.

In preparation, Lions coach Matt Patricia said he looks more at the film than the record of the opponent.

“The tape tells us a lot, that’s really what we have to focus on. Especially with a team like this, that we don’t really know very well from a stand point of we don’t play them a lot,’’ Patricia said. “We have to really dive into their personnel and figure out who they are, how they play, how it affects what they do. They have some experienced veterans that are on that team and that they’ve added to that team, and they have some young players that are really good, up and coming players. We really need to learn those guys as we go through the course of the week.”

Five things to watch:

1. Driskel has found some success in his first two starts and is getting more comfortable with each passing play. The offense was not the reason Detroit lost 35-27 to the Dallas Cowboys. Driskel is no Stafford, but he is proving to be a fine fill-in.

2. Detroit’s defense will face rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins who has had a rough start, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and five interceptions. Putting pressure on the rookie will be key, get him out of his comfort zone. This has not exactly been the strength of the defense in the first 10 games. They need to step it up. Haskins is still quite raw. “I think the game becomes faster for a player and they don’t have to think as much, it comes a little bit easier. That’s probably the thing that we’re emphasizing and we’re working through right now,’’ interim coach Bill Callahan said on a conference call this week.

3. Adrian Peterson, who is 34, is the Redskins leading rusher averaging 4.2 yards per carry. “I had the opportunity to experience playing against him years back when he was a young guy. I’m watching the film, and I don’t see it being a whole heck of a lot different,’’ Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said. “He’s powerful, he breaks tackles, he’s physical. He’s got great size, we all know that. So, I just think that you’ve got to be in good position to tackle him. Everybody’s got to understand that they’re in the point of attack because the ball could end up hitting any gap on any given play. He’s got great vision, he’s got great feet. He’s powerful. There’s not much different for me when I watch the film.”

4. The Redskins offense has been outscored 253-125 overall and 75-34 in the fourth quarter. The Lions have generally faded in the second half on both sides of the ball and have been outscored 92-64 in the fourth. Could be a snoozer if neither team jumps out and tries to take advantage of the other’s weakness.

5. Lions running back Bo Scarbrough, who made his NFL debut on Sunday, could get the start again. Scarbrough, who is low-key, had 14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. “I thought he came in and really did a nice job of bringing a physical presence for us. He was really hitting the hole hard, he was running downhill, breaking tackles at the first level, breaking tackles at the second level,’’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I mean that’s kind of what we were looking for in the run game. I thought he kind of gave us a little bit of a spark, and you could see the tenacity that he brought to it and kind of the style that we would like to play.”

PREDICTION: Lions 24, Redskins 23 (This is a tough one. Lions should win, but not much confidence after loss to the Cowboys.)

Bo Scarbrough adds punch to Detroit Lions’ run game in loss to Cowboys

DETROIT — Bo Scarbrough made one heck of an NFL debut on Sunday.

The Detroit Lions running back, who had been promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, got the start in the 35-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Scarbrough, a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018, had 14 carries for 55 yards including a 23-yard scamper and a touchdown.

“I kind of grabbed him after the game and just told him how proud I was of him. He ran the ball super hard. He knew what he was doing,’’ quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “He hasn’t been here very long at all and he stepped right in there, and it was awesome to see him run that ball that hard. He kind of brought some life to our run game and it was awesome. He’s a good player and I’m happy he’s on our side.”

Scarbrough’s 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, following a fumble recovery, gave the Lions a 7-0 lead. 

“That touchdown doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just another score on the board for us to get ahead. But if we can contribute and win, it’d be different,’’ the 23-year-old Scarbrough said.

His fresh legs let the Lions keep Ty Johnson, who was coming off concussion protocol, for most of the game. 

Scarbrough did not say when he found out that he would start.

 “It’s an opportunity, week-in and week-out. Everybody needs an opportunity. It felt regular to me. Playing under coach (Nick) Saban – this is what we’ve always done. Every week was a different guy up, so you just have to be ready when your number is called. If you number is called, you just have to take advantage of it and run with it.”

Scarbrough played at Alabama including the two national championship seasons (2015 and 2017). He was signed to the Lions practice squad on Nov. 6 after being out of football since Aug. 31 by the Seahawks.

He said he didn’t have extra motivation today because the Cowboys were the team that originally drafted him.

“No, like I told you before, it’s what I do. ‘Matty P’ (Patricia) says that and that’s what he wanted me to do. So I’m going to do my job, whatever it is, to help the team win,’’ Scarbrough said. “If I have to give someone a cup of water, then that’s what I do.”

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

 

Detroit Lions’ defense fails again, this time in loss to Dallas Cowboys

DETROIT — Detroit’s defense is not getting the job done.

It happened again on Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Lions 35-27 at Ford Field. If you’ve lost count, the Lions have lost six of the last seven and are now 3-6-1.

On offense the Lions had a backup quarterback (Jeff Driskel) starting his second game for this team and a running back (Bo Scarbrough) who never had a carry in the NFL. Still they managed to score 27 points which should be enough to win an NFL game.

Do not blame this on Driskel or the offense. 

This is all on the Lions’ sad-sack defense, especially against the pass.

In the last five games the defense has allowed quarterbacks to throw 16 touchdown passes and has not made an interception. 

“We just need to make more plays. We just left too many plays out there. It’s another game – I feel like a broken record at this point, but another game I feel like the offense played well enough for us to win, but we have to figure it out collectively as a defense,’’ linebacker Devon Kennard said. “We have to play better, and we can play better.”

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes for 444 yards (just shy of his all-time high of 463). He had all the time in the world in the pocket and often his receivers were wide open, without a defender within a few yards. Dallas finished with 509 yards of offense.

“We had pressure. I think we missed like three (sacks). We were getting what we needed to go, we just have to make the plays, like I said. We had a couple guys that probably had some sacks but missed it. We had a couple guys that had chances to make PBUs and we didn’t make it, and I am one of them,’’ cornerback Darius Slay said. “So, it’s all accountable for all of us, so we all just have to put it together.”

Coach Matt Patricia, known as a defensive guru when he was hired from the Patriots, has talked about finding consistency since Week 1. He is still searching for it.

“It’s something we’re trying to figure out,’’ Patricia said in his post-game presser.

Echoing his coach, Kennard said they need to be consistent in everything they do.

“I feel like last week we came out and played one of our better games defensively overall, and we needed to build on that and not take a step back. Defensively, I think we took a step back today,’’ Kennard said.

Yes, there have been injuries but that is no excuse. Every team is dealing with that at this time of the season.

Nothing that they saw from Dallas should have been a surprise. The Cowboys had the NFL’s best offense (437.3 yards per game) when they arrived at Ford Field.

“We didn’t play well enough to win. Give the Cowboys credit. They made a lot more plays than we did,” Patricia said. “Certainly, I’d say, in all three phases they’re plays out there that we need to do a better job of, so continually trying to improve this and get it better.”

No offense but this is basically what’s been said every week just change the name of the opponent.

Prescott is a solid quarterback with plenty of talent surrounding him.

On a somewhat positive note, running back Ezekiel Elliott was held to 45 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. In only one game has he been held to less yards (35) this season. 

Two Cowboys’ receivers — Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb — finished with more than 100 receiving yards. Gallup’s 148 yards were the most he’s had since Week 1. Cobb’s 115 receiving yards were a season-high.

Driskel might be young but he’s not crazy. He wasn’t going to get into a debate on whether the offense is carrying the defense and if there is any resentment in the locker room.

“I mean the beautiful thing about football is it’s a team sport, it’s a total team sport. Our first touchdown of the day they gave us a short field. I don’t know where we got the ball exactly, but they did a nice job of getting the ball off of them,’’ Driskel said referring to the recovered fumble at the Cowboys’ 28-yard line in the first quarter.

“We did a nice job of scoring a touchdown. We got the ball later – I think it was still in the first quarter – around midfield after a huge return, so, it’s a total team game,’’ Driskel said. “I think everyone just has to look themselves in the mirror and see what each individual could have done better to give us a better chance to win.”

No one would disagree.

This team can do better with the talent on the roster, but it is the defense that is holding the Lions back. Of that, there is no question.

Detroit Lions RB Ty Johnson and S Tracy Walker return; Stafford out vs. Cowboys

DETROIT — While Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford, Da’Shawn Hand and Rick Wagner were ruled out on Friday, Romeo Okwarais is also inactive in today’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

Running back Ty Johnson, who sustained a concussion last week at Chicago, will return which will be a boost to the running back bunch. On Saturday, the Lions signed RB Bo Scarbrough to the active roster from the practice squad and released RB Paul Perkins.

Damon “Snacks” Harrison (groin), Sam Martin (abdomen) and Tracy Walker (knee) are active. They had all been listed as questionable on Friday. 

It’s the second straight game that Stafford (back/hip) will sit out. Coach Matt Patricia said on Friday that he is following a doctor’s plan and doing well. Jeff Driskel will start his second consecutive game. He took first-team snaps in practice this week so should be more prepared.

Right tackle Rick Wagner, who sustained a concussion in the loss at Chicago last week, will miss his first start this season.

Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) has played in just two games this season. This will be his second straight game sitting out.

Other Lions inactives: T Dan Skipper, G Beau Benzschawel and CB Michael Jackson.

The Lions (3-5-1) have lost five of their last six while the Cowboys (5-4) are coming off a loss to the Vikings.

 

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Detroit Cowboys

Detroit’s defense, which has struggled and is a huge reason the Lions have lost five of their last six, will face another huge test in the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The Lions (3-5-1) are coming off a 20-13 loss at Chicago while the Cowboys (5-4) lost to the Vikings 28-24 on Sunday night.

Detroit will be without quarterback Matthew Stafford (back/hip) who will miss his second straight start. Jeff Driskel will step in once again. 

The Lions have been in close games — they’ve lost their last two by one touchdown — but have had trouble scoring or holding onto a lead in the second half.

“I would say for our guys – maybe with the exception of one week this year – even though we fought through every single game, I would say each game is coming down to maybe one or two plays here or there,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “I think our guys are continually trying to battle through that and trying to find ways to come out on the plus side of it, so are we as coaches.’’

Five things to watch in the Lions-Cowboys matchup:

1. The Lions’ defense must play better overall. Coordinator Paul Pasqualoni is bullish on the group and sees positive signs despite the losses. “I don’t know if there is anything missing, but I just keep talking about playing with consistency and winning them. So, we have to focus on what we need to do to win games and just being as consistent as we can be every snap because these games – the margin of error, as you guys know is not very, very big,’’ Pasqualoni said. “That’s the National Football League, so just focusing and concentrating on what we have to do to win games.”

2/ must find a way to pressure quarterback Dak Prescott who has completed 68.3 percent of his passes.  “You know I would say, one of the things is – watching him from last year when we played him early, to this year – I think he’s doing a great job at the line of scrimmage. He’s changing plays, he’s audibling, he’s making adjustments based on what he sees from the defense. I would say his post-snap read of coverage is a lot better,’’ Patricia said. “He’s doing a really good job of kind of deciphering some of the different looks that he’s getting and really taking advantage of the skill players that he has out there with the speed and some of the one-on-one matchups that are being created out there because of the run game, and some of the different things that defenses have to do.” 

3. Stopping the run has also been an issue for the Lions defense — they’ve allowed 129.7 yards per game. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott can be dangerous.  “Well, I think that he has great balance. I think his pads, he’s always moving forward. He (is) very, very hard to keep him from going forward, he does a great job with that,’’ Pasqualoni said. “He runs hard, he has really, really good vision and he has good instincts. He has all of those critical factors that running backs need to have. A lot of it is vision and balance and a feel for it, and he does a great job of making his cuts, staying square and moving downfield.”

4. Driskel did fine in his start at Chicago. Considering his lack of experience (five previous starts with the Bengals) he moved the offense as well as could be expected, but he is no Stafford. The Lions need to put plenty of points on the board against the Cowboys, because it’s a given that Dallas should barrel through the Lions’ defense. 

5. Injuries have decimated the running back group. Ty Johnson could provide a huge boost if he can return after suffering a concussion last week in Chicago. He was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. 

PREDICTION: Cowboys 31, Lions 17