Lions GM: Hockenson would have been traded even with a 6-1 record

ALLEN PARK — Brad Holmes, the Lions general manager, insisted on Wednesday that he would have traded tight end T.J. Hockenson even if the Lions 1-6 record was reversed.

The 25-year-old Hockenson was traded to the Vikings for a second-round pick (2023) and a third-rounder (2024) on Tuesday, the NFL trade deadline day.

“This move was not reflective of our record. If our record was reversed and it made sense for us we would have still done it,’’ Holmes said during Wednesday’s practice “It wasn’t anything of that nature, it made sense for us and we’ll move forward with it.’’

Hockenson, a 2019 first-round pick, had 26 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns in the first seven games.

“I think that we’ve proven that our offense can score a lot of points, I’m sure he was a part of it. But the deal would have made sense, it was not based on record whatsoever,’’ Holmes reiterated. “I think it was a good deal for the future of our team and that’s my job, I’ve always got to have a laser focus on the current and also the future.’’

Holmes said this is not a sign that the team has given up on the season after losing five straight games.

“We’re working hard every single day to win as many games as possible. We’ve still got 10 games left and that’s what we’re working hard to do,’’ Holmes said. “Just because we’re in that phase of rebuilding doesn’t mean we can’t go out and work as hard as we can and win some games.’’

He said it is archaic thinking that trading in the division is a bad thing.

“When we make these kinds of decisions I’m totally at peace. T.J. is a good football player and the next time we play him he’ll still be a good football player, he’ll make a play or make some plays and score a touchdown or whatever he does. The camera will be in my face, I’ll look at it and wave,’’ Holmes said.

Hockenson is in the fourth year of his rookie deal. The Lions picked up his $4.9 million fifth-year option, putting him under contract through 2023. He is eligible for an extension.

Holmes said that many factors went into the trade decision and wo9rking on an extension for Hockenson was just one of them.

The GM also thanked Hockenson for his contributions to the team.

“I want to publicly express my appreciation for everything T.J. did for us. We’ve had a great relationship since I’ve been here. I wish him all the best, besides when we’re playing him, going forward,’’ Holmes said.

(Up next: Packers (3-5) at Lions (1-6) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6)


Detroit Lions defensive issues lead to 48-45 loss to Seahawks

DETROIT — This Lions’ loss was on the defense. The offense, which is decimated by injuries, did its part on Sunday, but the Lions lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 48-45, at Ford Field. 

“I’m not shocked, I’ve been a part of so many games where you think it’s going to go one way and it goes the complete opposite,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “I’m not shocked, but I thought it would be more defensive, a more conservative type game and it certainly wasn’t that.’’

How bad was Detroit’s defense?

— Seattle’s 48 points were more than they scored in their first three games combined. 

— The Seahawks never punted and they were 9 of 12 on third-down conversions.

— Quarterback Geno Smith completed 23-of-30 passes for 320 yards, a pair of touchdowns and he ran seven times for 49 yards and a touchdown. In the first three games he ran for a total of 15 yards.

— Running back Rashaad Penny carried 17 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

— Wide receiver DK Metcalf caught seven passes for 149 yards.

Campbell will do a deep dive into the defensive woes. When asked if there could be staff changes, he said: “I’m going to look at everything.”

This was not the first time the defense looked unprepared. The 1-3 Lions have averaged 31.7 points per game (before Sunday) which was second in the NFL, but the defense had given up 31 points per game which is the worst in the League.

The math is pretty simple.

“We lack confidence (defensively), that’s very clear to see, that’s one element to it,’’ Campbell said. “We lack a lot of confidence. …  We’re lacking some confidence, and there again, we’re still making errors which falls into our boat as coaches. That’s on us.’’

Naturally, questions arise about defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Campbell said he will sit down with Glenn and look at everything from scheme to personnel.

“A.G. is a damn good coach,’’ Campbell said. “This is what I told the team, the worst thing we can do is start pointing fingers at each other — you did this, you didn’t do this. We can’t do that, we can’t let anybody pull us apart.’’

The offense gets it. Quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 378 yards, said he’s been in the inverse situation. “I know what happens. If you don’t support them, it goes downhill quickly,’’ Goff said.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had a career day with eight receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns, echoed Goff’s thoughts.

“I don’t want anybody to lose hope in that locker room,’’ Hockenson said.

Since day one, Campbell has always taken blame and it was no different on Sunday.

“As dismal as it is right now, we’re not as far away as we feel. Until we do something about it, it doesn’t matter,’’ Campbell said. “We’ve got to coach better and they need to take it on their shoulders.’’

He said they’re all in the same boat together.

“I know this, we can’t go in panic mode, it’s the worst thing you can do,’’ Campbell said.

While most problems were with the defense, he will also look at ways to improve the offense which was without its biggest producers. D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown were sidelined with injuries. And still they produced 520 yards of offense in a game where they never held a lead. Along with Hockenson and Goff, running back Jamaal Williams had 19 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds caught seven balls for 81 yards and a touchdown.

That next man up motto seems to be working for the offense under coordinator Ben Johnson. 

“There’s really no flinch with who is in there,’’ Goff said.

The flinch comes when the defense takes the field. Changes have to be made, whether in staffing or scheme, to get the season back on track.

(Next up: Lions at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 9.)

Lions Matt Prater rates his game-winning kick

Matt Prater’s NFL career features many highlights, but Sunday’s 48-yard, game-winning extra point topped them all for the Detroit Lions kicker.

“For me personally, that’s up there at the top especially since it’s an extra point. The distance doesn’t matter, you’re expected to make it every time,’’ Prater said. “It just happened to be a really far extra point. It’s definitely the farthest extra point I’ve ever attempted in my life. It was crazy. I’m happy we came through and got the win.’’

Prater is not new to the Lions. He warmed up on the sideline on Sunday in Atlanta when the Lions got the ball, down 22-16, with 64 seconds left.

“Anytime we get the ball with (Matthew) Stafford and a minute or less I’m always confident we’re going to score,’’ Prater said in a Zoom call on Monday. “So I started kicking into the net. Some guys let the emotions get the best of them and start celebrating, so I backed it up.’’

Good idea. Wide receiver Danny Amendola was penalized for ripping off his helmet (unsportsmanlike conduct) after Stafford’s touchdown throw to T.J. Hockenson tied the game at 22-22. That cost the Lions 15 yards making it a 48-yard extra point.

“I basically treated it like a long field goal and swung hard and it went straight so it worked out,’’ Prater said.

It was not new for him, but it was a first-time experience for some of the younger Lions.

“I think everyone was so excited on the sideline because some of the younger guys hadn’t seen him do it yet,’’ Prater added. “As soon as we got the ball I was getting ready but it’s always fun watching Stafford in those minutes.’’

Earlier in the game he had kicked field goals of 50, 51 and 49 yards. But he had missed one from 46 yards.

As it turned out, it didn’t matter. He nailed the one that mattered the most.

The Lions (3-3) face the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) at Ford Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday.