Five things to know about Lions’ loss to Stafford, Rams

Outside of the Detroit Lions organization, not many thought the Lions had a chance to pick up their first win at the Rams. And when it was over, the Rams prevailed 28-19 on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Still after the devastating loss the previous week to Cincinnati, the Lions came out fighting. Coach Dan Campbell has their heads in the game even if they are now 0-7.

The aggressiveness of Campbell and his coaching staff kept Detroit in the game. It was their best effort so far both coaching and on the field.

“Our guys came back to work, they were ready to go, we came out and competed. We did what we wanted to do. It’s hard, there’s no other way to cut it than just the fact that this is a different caliber team,’’ Campbell told the media after the game. “You can argue that from last week, that’s a pretty good football team we played last week, this is a team that’s been built over years, they’ve got some weapons, some premier players and they’ve got a good coach. So man, you talk about how we make too many errors, we actually didn’t make as many errors today. We gave ourselves a chance. The problem is it only takes a couple, this team is too good to do that against.’’

The Lions were up 19-17 to start the fourth quarter, they were in the game until the final minutes.

They have had a few unfortunate losses —  specifically the two last-second 50-yard plus game-winning field goals — the good news is that they are still fighting.

“I told them in there – if this does not continue to sting and burn and taste like you-know-what, then you’ve got a problem. You cannot allow yourself to go numb. You can’t, because I’m not. All it does is (tick) me off even more and motivate me to get out of this mess,’’ Campbell said. “I do think we have the right type of guys. As long as they continue to hate this taste, they’ll come back to work and be ready to go.’’

Five things to know about the loss

1. Campbell and his coaching staff were not holding back. After the opening touchdown (a 63-yard pass play to D’Andre Swift), the Lions used an onside kick successfully to maintain control of the ball. On their second drive they picked up a huge first down when punter Jack Fox connected with Bobby Price on a fake punt play on fourth-and-7. And then, later in the game they again ran a fake punt successfully. Kudos to Campbell and special teams coach Dave Fipp. After the loss to the Bengals the previous week, Campbell said they had to look at everything. He meant it. When a team is 0-6, go for it. He did.

2. Because of the trick plays and some solid play on both sides of the ball the Lions took an early 10-0 lead. They went into the locker room down 17-13 at the half, but roared back to a 19-7 lead late in the third but it wasn’t enough. The early lead allowed the defense to do what it does best – a mix of run and pass. It’s crucial. When they fall behind so early and by so much, they just don’t seem to have a chance.

3. Jared Goff might be remembered for his interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter when the Lions were down 25-19. Still, Goff stepped up after last week and had a decent game. He missed a few wide-open guys but overall played better. He also was intercepted with just seconds remaining. Campbell was pleased with his play. He finished 22 of 36 for 268 yards, one touchdown and he was sacked twice.

4. This defense had its hands full with Matthew Stafford but they hung in there and made it a game until the end. Rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs had a few standout plays same with Julian Okwara who sacked Stafford and got a hand on an attempted Stafford fourth-down pass. The Rams aren’t 6-1 by accident, they are one of the NFL’s best. The defense came up big just a little short.

5. In a post-game interview with FOX, Stafford’s biggest smile came when he was asked if he was happy the game was over.  He threw for three touchdowns and zero picks in the win against his former team. He credited his former teammates for playing tough. He said the most emotional part of the game was before and after when he was spotted hugging former teammates and Lions staff. He had 31 fourth-quarter comebacks with the Lions so it was not surprising he manufactured another one on Sunday. Stafford on the Lions: “They played really hard, gotta give it up to Detroit. They’re a tough out, always have been, always will be.”

UP NEXT: Eagles (2-5) at Lions (0-7), 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31. Philadelphia lost 33-22 at the Raiders on Sunday.  Darius Slay will be making his return to Ford Field. 

THIS AND THAT: Running backs D’Andre Swift (13 carries, 48 yards) and Jamaal Williams (12 carries, 57 yards) had another good outing. Swift also had eight receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Campbell called him a stud and said he couldn’t get the ball to him enough. … The Lions won the time of possession 32:40 to 27:20. … The Lions were 0 for 5 in the red zone while the Rams were 3 of 4. … The Lions had 415 total net yards compared to 374 for the Rams. … Tracy Walker and Jalen Reeves-Maybin led the defense with 8 tackles each.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to know as Lions face Stafford, Rams

The 0-6 Lions, looking for their first win, will need a miracle and a half to leave Tinseltown with a ‘W’ after facing the 5-1 Rams on Sunday. 

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (still seems odd to write that) will likely lead the 5-1 Rams to their sixth win. He’s been having a phenomenal season and he has plenty of help including wide receiver Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in the NFL.

After covering Stafford while he was in Detroit, when he says it’s just another game to him it is. He said that every week while wearing Honolulu blue no matter the opponent or the situation. So there is every reason to believe him. And it was no surprise this week when he told the Los Angeles media that he had nothing bad to say about the Lions or the people in Detroit — actually it was quite the opposite.

It would be much different if this was being played at Ford Field, but it’s at the brand-new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.  

Five things to watch:

1. The Lions defense played just awful last week in the blowout loss to Cincinnati. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn usually can find a bright spot in any loss but not in that one. Defense can’t let Stafford get off to a big early lead because there will be no way for the offense to catch up.

2. Containing Stafford? Good luck. Stafford’s completion percentage is 69.5 with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. So far in just six games he has thrown for 1,838 yards and been sacked just six times.

3. Don’t forget this is a homecoming for Jared Goff too. He led the Rams to a Super Bowl, then got booted to Detroit. So he might have a bigger chip on his shoulder. After last week’s loss coach Dan Campbell said Goff needed to step up more. He wasn’t picking on him, just being his honest self. Goff agreed with his assessment.

4. With D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams the Lions finally have a good, healthy one-two punch. But they shoot themselves in the foot when they get behind in the first half and are forced to go to the air to try to catch up. A fire needs to be lit under the offense from the get-go.

5. It seems Campbell has not lost the team. They’ve had two heartbreaking losses due to 50-yard plus field goals. Last week was horrific, but they’ve shown more in the other five games. He needs to keep them in it. This season isn’t even half over.

Prediction: Rams 35, Lions 20

Lions brass excited about the hiring of GM Brad Holmes

Owner Sheila Ford Hamp couldn’t hide her excitement about new Lions general manager Brad Holmes as she was introducing him on Tuesday during a virtual press conference.

“Just wait, you’ll see,’’ Hamp said repeatedly.

Team president Rod Wood explained how he trusts his first impressions. Within two or three minutes of the first interview with Holmes (which was virtual), Wood wrote a note to himself, “This is the guy.”

Holmes, 41, has worked his way up in the NFL.

In fact, he noted the last time he was at the Lions practice facility was when he was interviewing for a PR intern position. That was around 2003.

Instead he took the same job with the St. Louis Rams and worked his way up through the scouting ranks. He spent 18 seasons with the Rams, most recently as director of college scouting. He brings his knowledge of the 2021 draft class to Detroit.

Hamp was right, Holmes seems to have the right attitude to get the Lions back to the playoffs and not just get there, but also win. 

“Everything is about the team, bottom line,’’ he said. His delivery guaranteed those are not empty words. 

He was quite clear about the intangible he wants to see in every player. That would be passion. Holmes said there is no margin for error. Passion is of utmost importance when it comes to intangibles.

“We will build a winning and inspired culture… There will be no ego in this process,’’ Holmes said.

He’s not looking at a five-year plan. He’s looking to put a winning team on the field in the fall.

It’s hard not to like this guy just from watching this one virtual press conference.

Now he has to put some muscle behind his words and make the best decisions. He will be involved in the next big hire – the head coach.

Hamp, Wood, Chris Spielman (special assistant to Hamp) and Mike Disner (vice president of football operations) were in on all of the interviews. They talked to a dozen GM candidates.

When they debriefed after the initial Holmes interview, it wasn’t just Rod Wood who knew he was The Guy. It was unanimous.

It could be the dawn of a new era for the Lions franchise which hasn’t won a playoff game since Jan. 5, 1992.

Or it could be just another Lions’ GM hire.

I’d bet on the former. 

Just a gut feeling.