Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face N.Y. Giants at Ford Field

After three straight losses, the Lions face a must-win situation when they face the New York Giants on Sunday at Ford Field.

Must-win in October? Absolutely.

The Lions (2-3-1)  are in the NFC North basement, with two straight division losses. Also they hit the road for the next two weeks — at Oakland on Nov. 3 and at Chicago on Nov. 10.

The Giants (2-5) have won just as many games as the Lions. Think about that.

“We have a big challenge in front of us. I think this is a really good Giants team and I think they’re building confidence as the season goes, and certainly they create a lot of problems on both sides of the ball,’’ Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “Offensively, they have some skill players that are just so dangerous, starting obviously with the running back (Saquon) Barkley and the tight end position (Evan) Engram – when you watch him more and more, his speed is really a major issue – especially, down there with a size matchup and stuff. Defensively, the packages that they mix and the pressures, and things like that they are bringing down in the red (zone) area are really hard …’’

Five things to watch:

1. Detroit’s defensive line must play better, get some pressure on rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Damon “Snacks” Harrison took the blame for the poor play of the defense this week, but it is not just him. Communication and technique are issues that certainly can be fixed, the question is how quickly can this defense turn around. It is ranked 31st overall (allowing 428.7 yards per game.) Patricia is a defensive specialist which makes this all the more surprising. Mike Daniels (foot) remains out, but Da’Shawn Hand is expected to play his first game this season.

2. The Lions secondary will be forced to make adjustments with Darius Slay (hamstring) sidelined and the trade of starting safety Quandre Diggs. Look for Tavon Wilson, along with rookie Will Harris and, possibly C.J. Moore, to see more snaps. Diggs was a leader on and off the field, so his presence will be missed all-around. Patricia mentioned that Miles Killebrew, who mostly plays special teams, could get involved in the defense. They must contain Golden Tate, former Lions’ wide receiver. You can bet Tate will be looking to have a great game. Patricia noted this week that he’s one of the toughest guys in the NFL to tackle. 

3. The Giants’ rookie quarterback Daniel Jones could cause real problems. He’s young so he’ll make mistakes. His stat line of six touchdown passes against seven interceptions is hardly impressive. Still, he should be taken seriously. Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni on Jones: “He’s very, very athletic, he has a very strong arm, he can make all the throws. He can do some real damage – he can do some real damage scrambling and running out of the pocket. They are running the zone-read play. He did do that against Tampa and had one heck of a nice run in the red zone for a touchdown. He’s a really, really, really good player, and I think it’s just he’s a little bit young and trying to get used to playing quarterback in the pocket with the speed and the violence of the game in the NFL.”

4. Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense has been solid but will be challenged without running back Kerryon Johnson who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic will pick up the slack. Maybe fullback Nick Bawden could get more involved too. Johnson has almost half of the team’s rushing yards — 308 out of 619 — and both of the Lions’ rushing touchdowns. He also ranks sixth in receiving yards with 126. The Diggs trade took much of the spotlight off the bad news regarding the run game which has struggled at times with Johnson healthy. He’s a big loss and coordinator Darrell Bevell must come up with a way to compensate and in a hurry.

5. The fourth-quarter letdowns must end. The Lions have been outscored 38-16 in the fourth quarters of the last three games, all losses. 

PREDICTION: Lions 31, Giants 24 (No excuses, the Lions have to find a way to win this home game.)

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Detroit Lions Matt Patricia looks to youth to replace safety Quandre Diggs

ALLEN PARK — Coach Matt Patricia said despite the trade of starting safety Quandre Diggs the Lions’ goals remain the same for the final 10 games of the season.

That starts Sunday against the N.Y. Giants at Ford Field.

Certainly, those decisions are very difficult. They’re not taken lightly. There are certainly things that we try to do to help the team get better in the long run for us, and certainly in a situation where we think moving forward hopefully, we have some players that can still help us, even if we do make a move like we did yesterday’’ Patricia said at his Wednesday press conference.

Diggs, a former sixth-round draft pick, was shipped to the Seattle Seahawks along with a seventh-round pick for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

The Lions’ goals have not changed, Patricia said they want to win every week.

“I think those guys in the back end have all been working really hard and developing, and some of those guys have had to really play in the last couple of weeks, and in some of those bigger games that we’ve had so far this year,’’ Patricia said on Wednesday. “Will Harris is someone that’s has to step into some roles, Tracy Walker plays more for us in some of those roles, Tavon Wilson who has been a good solid player for us for a long time. 

“C.J. Moore, you’ll see him, he’s been mixed out there actually in some of these games, too in some other aspects. We have some depth too, with guys that have played for us in the past – (Miles) Killebrew would be another one. With those guys, they’ll continually push to get better, and they understand that maybe they have to take on maybe a little bit more work load or job responsibility. They’re good with that challenge, they’ll accept that challenge and kind of go forward from there.”

So far this season Tracy Walker has started all six games; Tavon Wilson who had started three games and played in all six.

The trade shows the Lions have faith in rookie Will Harris, a third-round pick, who has played in every game.

Killebrew who plays almost exclusively on special teams has played sporadically on defense in his four seasons with the Lions.

Moore, a rookie, has played just five snaps on defense in the first six games, contributing mostly on special teams.

Being a young NFL safety has its challenges. This is where the coaches need to step up.

“I would say that’s probably the biggest challenge for us. Especially as we go through the season and we’re starting to see different looks or multiple looks from teams, and especially good quarterbacks and good offensive schemes, just the experience part of it,’’ Patricia said. “Those guys are going to have to catch up on that stuff really quickly. The good thing for us is Tracy (Walker) played in a lot of critical situations last year. He played in those maybe situations that you don’t have an opportunity during the game to talk about, they happen, and you have to react to them. His ability to be able to communicate with the less experienced guys that are on the field at that time, and certainly Tavon is someone that has great experience playing this game and can see some those situations happen pretty quick.’’

Diggs had played in 65 regular season games and was very much a student of football growing up watching his brother Quentin Jammer, who played for the San Diego chargers. 

Replacing Diggs in midstream will certainly have its challenges.

Five things to know about Detroit Lions’ 34-30 loss to Kansas City Chiefs

DETROIT — Any talk during the week  of the Lions-Chiefs matchup being a statement game, did not come from the Lions players or coaches.

So it fits that while it appeared the Lions proved they could play with one of the NFL’s elite teams in the 34-30 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, the Lions (2-1-1) didn’t like that storyline.

“I don’t think we need to prove anything to anybody – we love the way we practice, the way we work, the way we come out and play. We’re a good football team, lost to a good football team today,’’ Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “There were a bunch of great plays made in this game, a couple bad plays be each team made in this game, that’s the way it goes in the NFL. It came down to the last 15 seconds, they were undefeated coming into this game, so were we. Somebody was going to have to lose, obviously want to win them all at home, was a good opportunity to beat a good team and we were darned close.’’

Coach Matt Patricia was happy with the fight he saw in his team. “This team doesn’t blink, it just keeps going forward,’’ Patricia said.

Five things to know about the Lions’ loss:

1. The Lions scored touchdowns on two of their five trips to the red zone, but on three others they managed just three points. In the first quarter on fourth-and-7 from the 7-yard line they settled for a Matt Prater field goal. Then in the third quarter Stafford fumbled while trying to make a run on third-and-5 from the 5. The Chiefs recovered. Then Kerryon Johnson fumbled on a first-and-goal from the 1, the ball was scooped up by the Chiefs’ Bashaud Breeland and run back 99 yards for a touchdown (see below). On his fumble, Stafford looked like he was going to make a throw. “I thought Marvin Hall had a chance in the back of the end zone at least a chance to throw it away but I really probably should of eaten it for a sack on third and goal,’’ Stafford said. “Chances of making that play not so good, chances of Prater making a chip shot probably really good. Obviously disappointed I put the ball on the ground.’’

2. Kerryon Johnson took full responsibility for that fumble that led to the Chiefs’ touchdown. “My perspective is, they called it a fumble. We lost three or seven points, which turned into seven points for them, we lost by three points, so obviously it hurt. Big play in the game, we had a lot of momentum going for us, kind of killed it,’’ Johnson said. “I take full responsibility for it.” In a pool report. NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron said: “The officials ruled on the field that they did not see the ball carrier down. They did not see a body part other than the hand or foot down.’’ That’s why they didn’t blow the whistle.

3. To have a chance to beat the Chiefs, Detroit’s run game had to improve and it did. Kerryon Johnson had 26 carries for 125 yards and the Lions finished with 186 rushing yards. “I think for us the run game, we were close last week maybe a couple blocks or details away, we’ll see what the tape looks like, it appears that that was cleaned up … I think the group in general, they want to get better, they’re trying to improve, that’s all you can ask for as a coach, we have to coach them better and keep working with them,’’ Patricia said. In the first three games this season, Johnson finished with 49, 41 and 36 yards.

4. The defense played well to hold quarterback Patrick Mahomes to just 315 passing yards his lowest total this season. Also, he had no passing touchdowns — he’s had at least three in each of the first three games this season.. However, the Lions’ defense would like at least one play back. With 1:55 left and the Lions leading 30-27, the Chiefs had a fourth-and-8 at their own 34. The Lions stop them and it’s likely they could hold on for a win. Instead Mahomes sees a big gap straight down the middle and runs 15 yards to get the first down. Eight plays later, Chiefs running back Damien Williams runs up the gut for the game-winning touchdown. Patricia took the blame on that one, saying he needs to coach better. To their credit their pressure on the previous play (third-and-8) forced an incomplete pass to Demarcus Robinson.

5. It’s not unusual for a Lions team (we’re talking in recent years) to deflate after a big play. That did not happen after that Chiefs touchdown that was returned after the Kerryon Johnson fumble. Stafford tried to help his teammates stay tough. “My point was we score a touchdown there, the game wasn’t going to end,’’ Stafford said. “We didn’t win the game if we scored a touchdown there. They don’t win the game because they scored a touchdown, there was a lot of football left. I think there were 9 or 10 minutes left in the third quarter. There was a lot of football left to play.’’

BONUS on INJURIES: Stafford was questionable going into the game with a hip injury. He didn’t want to talk about it afterward but said it wasn’t the same injury as last season. … Safety Quandre Diggs injured a hamstring trying to run down a Mahomes pass late in the first quarter and didn’t return. Patricia did not have an update after the game. … Tight end T.J. Hockenson had to be carted off the field after he landed on his shoulder and head leaping to avoid a tackle. Patricia said he was in good spirits afterward and did not go to the hospital.

UP NEXT: The Lions have a bye weekend, then will play at Green Bay (3-1) on Monday night, Oct. 14.

Detroit Lions safety Quandre Diggs is huge fan of Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers

Chargers visit Ford Field in home opener on Sunday

It’s difficult to find an NFL safety who will openly admit his admiration and love for a quarterback he will be facing on Sunday.

That’s just how it is with Lions safety Quandre Diggs who will be looking across the line of scrimmage at Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday at Ford Field.

Diggs’ brother, Quentin Jammer, who played 11 seasons with the Chargers (2002-2012), is the connection.

“I’ve always been a Philip guy, that’s one of my brother’s favorite teammates, he’s one of my favorite quarterbacks. I just love his passion, I love everything about Philip,’’ Diggs said on Wednesday. “I’ve been watching Philip — he got drafted in ’04, he probably started in ‘06 or ‘07 — I’ve been watching him since.’’

Diggs wasn’t done.

“I freaking love, love Philip, I love everything about him. Great family man, great dude,’’ Diggs said. “Of course he’s met me a few times, when I was a young buck. The first time we played him I went up and just told him who I was, he said, ‘I know it.’  Me and my brother look alike so I’m sure it’s crazy for him.’’

Diggs’ first game as a rookie in 2013 was against the Chargers in the opener.

“It was at Qualcomm where I went to so many games watching my brother play. It’s going to be weird seeing those colors across from me,’’ Diggs said. “At the end of the day I’m a Detroit Lion and I love everything about it.’’

His brother will be at Sunday’s game.

“It will be dope for him to be around the game. He’s still around, he still goes to Chargers’ events — drives up to LA. It’s dope, man,’’ Diggs said. 

Rivers, who has nine kids, used to live down the street from Jammer.

“It’s crazy how these things work together. He was one of my brother’s favorite teammates. You can ask him right now who his favorite Charger is and he’s going to tell you Philip. He loves the guy, Philip loves him back and I love Philip,’’ Diggs said. “… I enjoy these moments from a kid watching him. In my mind he’s a Hall of Famer. Me growing up watching him, it’s amazing how it’s my turn to go up against him now.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Lions’ CB Darius Slay excited for second straight Pro Bowl trip

His kids may even be happier

ALLEN PARK >> Darius Slay’s kids are so excited that their dad made the Pro Bowl for the second straight year, that they created a “Daddy Made the Pro Bowl” dance.

The three kids display quite the moves on Slay’s Instagram My Story. It’s not that their dad has been voted as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, as much as that it’s in Orlando and a trip to Disney World is part of the package.

“My kids are already hyped up … They’re ready. They’re already packed,’’ Slay said on Wednesday.

He is hyped too. Now in his sixth season, Slay longed to make it to the top echelon of NFL cornerbacks since he was a rookie. Back-to-back Pro Bowl nods show that others have noticed.

“It was a great honor, felt good, let me know folks are watching film and understanding and, like I said, I was excited and ready,’’ Slay said.

His numbers are down from last season when he had eight interceptions and 26 pass defenses. This season, with two games remaining, he has three interceptions and 15 pass defenses.

“My play been good, I had a couple few plays here, a few plays there, I had a few plays last year too,’’ Slay said. “Other than the picks, I think I played pretty well. Competing all the time at a high level.’’

Also this season, he scored his first touchdown returning an interception at Arizona two weeks ago. He was holding that football when he talked to the media on Wednesday and said it was going in a special place with his other memorabilia.

Slay has kept up his energy despite the Lions’ 5-9 record so far.

“Got great guys in the room I’ve got to go to war with, I enjoy going to war with, have fun doing it,’’ Slay said. “That’s how I keep it up.’’

He’s also happy that teammate Quandre Diggs has been voted as a Pro Bowl alternate.

“I thought it should be more but that’s how everybody sees it. Quandre is playing at an elite level and at 5-2 1/2 so that should give him more nod,’’ Slay said. “I’m proud of him, he works hard, One thing I know he’s going to go 100 percent every game.’’

Slay enjoys making fun of Digg’s height. He’s officially listed at 5-foot-9. He gets the job done with two interceptions, one touchdown, seven pass defenses and 55 tackles so far this season.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27, the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

The Vikings, who are fighting for a wild-card playoff berth, are the next challenge for the Lions. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the Lions final home game this season.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit Lions: Diggs, Abdullah active; Ansah, Lang, Roberts out vs. Packers

Green Bay without 2 of top wide receivers

DETROIT — Defensive back Quandre Diggs, who broke his hand in the loss at Dallas last week, is active today against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Diggs practiced all week with a cast on his left hand.

Lions running back Ameer Abdullah is active against today. He could see his first action this season after he was healthy but inactive the first four games.

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), guard T.J. Lang (concussion)  and tight ten Michael Roberts (knee) were ruled out on Friday’s injury report.

It’s the fourth straight game that Ansah has missed since he was injured in the opener.

Wide receiver Brandon Powell, safety Tavon Wilson (back),  linebacker Eli Harold (not injury related) and offensive lineman Andrew Donnel are also inactive.

Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (ankle), wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (ankle), cornerback Nevin Lawson (illness) and defensive back Tracy Walker (ankle) were listed as questionable on Friday but are active today.

For the Packers, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, two of their top wide receivers, are inactive. That leaves Davante Adams and three rookie wide receivers as targets for Aaron Rodgers.

Other Packers inactives include QB Tim Boyle (healthy scratch), CB Jaire Alexander (groin), CB Bashaud Breeland (hamstring), S Jermaine Whitehead (back) and T/G Alex Light (healthy).

Don’t count out Lions Quandre Diggs against the Packers

Glover Quin has played with a broken hand with success

ALLEN PARK — Don’t count out Quandre Diggs for Sunday just yet.

The Detroit Lions nickel cornerback/strong safety broke his left hand in Sunday’s loss at Dallas.

Diggs had limited participation in Wednesday’s practice which is a good sign that he could be available on Sunday. He was wearing what appeared to be a cast on his left hand.

Diggs has been an integral part of the new Matt Patricia-style defense. He’s started all four games, playing 100 percent of the defensive snaps in Weeks 2 and 3, and 97 percent in the opener.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

The Lions (1-3) host the Green Bay Packers (2-1-1) on Sunday at Ford Field. Defending quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a monumental task so having the whole complement of the Lions’ secondary on the field is huge.

Glover Quin said a safety can play with a broken hand. He has done it.

Quin said in his second season (2010), playing for Houston Texans, he broke his hand in a game against the Jets. In the next game he had three interceptions in a win over the Tennessee Titans. (A check of NFL stats proved his claim. By the way, they were his only three interceptions that season.)

“There are definitely some challenges (playing with a cast), especially as a defensive back. You use your hands a lot,’’ Quin said on Wednesday. “You can deal with the pain, you can make it.’’

Of course not all broken hands are equal. If Diggs fracture is more serious he could be forced to the sidelines.

In the first four games Diggs, who signed a three-year, $18.6 million extension last month, has 16 tackles, four pass defenses and an interception in the first four games.