Lions Dan Campbell: The strength is the team; no decision on play-calling

Dan Campbell appeared more fired up than usual on Monday, the start of the  first week of the regular season. 

After months of work and coming off a devastating 3-13-1 year, the season is here. The Lions open the season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Ford Field.

“We have our players, we have our crew. We have the brotherhood, if you will. The 53 with a 16-man vet squad or practice squad. There’ll be a couple things that always come up through the year but for the most part this is our crew,’’ Campbell said at his Monday press conference.

He likes that they were able to sign veterans – he named Jarrad Davis in particular – to the practice squad. So when injuries happen he’ll have plug-and-play guys available. 

“I feel like we have the right guys, it’s the right 53 and I feel like our strength is exactly that, the 53 plus that 16-man practice squad. So I think that is our strength, I don’t think you can point at one player and say this is who we are,” Campbell said. “I think it’s kind of unique that way, I appreciate that and I think our guys do.’’

It’s uncertain whether Campbell or offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will call the plays on Sunday. Johnson called them during the preseason. Campbell said Johnson is ready but he is too.

“It’s been good, it’ll be fun. He’s done a great job. This is going to be interesting to find out, I’m excited to know too,’’ Campbell said. “I’ll be honest I’m just not quite there yet, I still have this eagerness to want to call it myself.’’

Lions backup QB Nate Sudfeld practices, starts to learn offense

Tim Boyle and David Blough had every opportunity to become the Lions backup quarterback for this season. Instead both were released and the Lions signed Nate Sudfeld who was cut due to a numbers issue by the 49ers.

“They just didn’t quite make the jump we were expecting them to make,’’ Lions GM Brad Holmes said at a Thursday press conference.

It has been a whirlwind for Sudfeld who caught a red-eye flight on Tuesday night in San Francisco, landed in Detroit at 5 a.m. Wednesday and went straight to the Lions facility for meetings and practice. He managed nine hours of sleep Wednesday night and was feeling rested and ready for practice on Thursday morning.

“It happened fast, but I’m super-pumped to be here,’’ said Sudfeld who wore No. 12 which was last worn by Boyle.

He’s got a lot to learn and a short time to learn it with the regular season preparation starting next week. The season opener is Sept. 11 against the Eagles at Ford Field.

Sudfeld, who is in his seventh NFL season, has learned from other quarterbacks while at the 49ers, Eagles and Washington.

“A lot of concepts I’ve definitely run and done before, there’s a lot of new verbiage and memorization things so definitely going to continue to study, definitely a lot of carryover,’’ Sudfeld said. “There’s some different concepts I haven’t done before but I love how much we do at the line of scrimmage and how much confidence they have in Jared (Goff) and the quarterbacks getting us into the right play. Really looking forward to the opportunity.’’

Sudfeld, 28, knows Goff although they’ve never been on the same team. They have the same agent, both are from northern California and came out for the NFL draft in the same year. Occasionally they have worked out together in the offseason.

“It’s been a beautiful journey that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of and just try to get better every year, the older you get you just want to stack years and keep improving as a player,’’ Sudfeld said. “All the other stuff it’s just a matter of time, it will take care of itself.’’

Holmes didn’t address the situation, but if Blough clears waivers he could be signed to the Lions’ practice squad.

“We did what is best for the organization at this time. There were a lot of different options. You can trade a bunch of draft capital for a backup quarterback, there’s a lot of different options. We did the best thing for Detroit,’’ Holmes said.

Five things to know about Lions 44-6 loss to Eagles

For the second straight home game, the Lions embarrassed themselves with a one-sided loss. On Sunday they fell 44-6 to the Eagles (3-5) who had lost five of their previous six games.

This should have been a game the Lions were in, but they most certainly were not. It wasn’t bad calls by the officials, it was weak play on all three units along with questionable coaching at times.

The Lions (0-8) may be the best team in the NFL at shooting themselves in the foot. A dubious distinction to be sure.

Coach Dan Campbell did not mince words afterward.

“We got pushed around bad. … I felt like we got out-coached today and out-played across the board and that starts with me. You don’t play that bad with a number of guys and areas and turn the ball over and penalties and low-energy,’’ Campbell said. “You don’t do that unless that comes from the top and that’s on me. I did not set the tone and the tempo properly obviously because that was bad. We didn’t even give ourselves a chance.’’

With next Sunday as the bye, Campbell, his staff and every player have time to reflect on the 0-8 start.

Five things to know about the loss

1. So far this season, maybe with the exception of the Bengals game two weeks ago, the Lions have shown a fighting spirit. Even at the Rams a week ago, they came out on fire scoring 16 first-half points before being slowed down in the second half. The want-to was not really apparent on Sunday. “I really felt like we were flat. I’m not worried about my message … well I guess maybe I should be worried about my message right, when you play like this that’s why you’re asking,’’ Campbell said.  “I’m not worried about losing this team, I am worried that I didn’t deliver the right message to get them ready to go. That’s what concerns me about what I do.’’

2. Quarterback Jared Goff had a brutal day. He was sacked five times (four in the first half), and completed 25 of 34 passes for 222 yards. On a fourth-and-11 in the third quarter it looked like he threw the ball away although Goff said it was a misfire, a physical error, he was not trying to throw it away. Campbell still has Goff’s back. “Aside from the fact on the fourth-down he threw it into the stands which yes, that’s not a good decision, I don’t know what he’s supposed to do as far as the way that game went,’’ Campbell said. “I don’t look at him and go, ‘He’s the problem.’ That’s not how I see it. I do see this —  offensively we were very anemic. If you’re going to ask me where are you going to look this week, I’m going to look at it three times before I look at anything else.

3. Running back D’Andre Swift was not effective at all against the Eagles defense. Jamaal Williams was out with an injury so they needed Swift to have a big day. The Lions have to be able to run and it was not there at all. Swift carried a dozen times for 27yards, a 2.3 per carry average and caught five passes for 24 yards. “We know Swift can help us, we couldn’t get him going. We tried, we just couldn’t get him going the way we wanted to get him going,’’ Campbell said.

4. The defense knew exactly what to expect of mobile Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts – they couldn’t let him out of the pocket and yet they did. He had more rushing yards (71) than all the Lions combined. This was not a surprise. He was the Eagles leading rusher going into the game. Lions safety Tracy Walker put the lack of execution on himself and his teammates. The coaches, they can make the game plan, they can draw up as many plays as they want but they can’t throw that playbook out there to make those plays,’’ Walker said. “At the end of the day us as players we’ve got to go out there and execute the plays that are called regardless of what the scheme may be we have to go out and do our jobs.’’

5. Give Campbell credit that he will always take the blame for a loss. That’s swell but he has to find ways to make this team more competitive. Everyone knew that wins this season would be extremely tough to get but this has been worse than billed. Campbell will spend the bye week looking at every aspect of the team in all three phases. Goff says the team has not given up. “I think that’s kind of been the theme the whole year. As bad as it’s been, the effort is there . We have young kids who are fighting, we have veteran guys who are fighting and we love each other,’’ Goff said.

UP NEXT: Lions have bye next Sunday, Nov. 7. They play at Cleveland on Sunday, Nov. 14.