The problem Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell faces is not finding solutions.
It’s about deciding where to start.
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The Lions trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-10 at halftime and 41-17 with two minutes left before a late charge brought them down to 41-33.
Campbell said watching the game’s movie didn’t make the game much better than it looked in real time.
“There is nothing that surprised me,” he said. “We have a lot of things to clean, but the good thing is that we can clean them. We missed a lot of the little things, and if we do those little things we’re probably going to win a game.
The running backs combination of Jamaal Williams and Andre Swift had 93 yards on 20 carries, but also helped when the Lions had to throw the ball after falling so far behind. Swift caught eight passes for 65 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown on a screen pass, while Williams had eight passes for 56 yards.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Vertical passing play was almost nonexistent against the 49ers. Until the desperate final minutes, Jared Goff checked everything down to running backs and tight ends. TJ Hockenson is a big part of the Lions offense, so his eight catches for 97 yards and one score are positive, but no wide receiver has had more than three receptions.
Rookie tackle Penei Sewell had to switch from right tackle to left tackle after Taylor Decker injured his finger. It meant making his regular-season debut against 49ers star Nick Bosa, but the 20-year-old stuck it out.
“He’s going to be good,” Bosa told reporters after the game. “He’s more comfortable on the left. I could say. The band I saw on the right was… I told him after the game he’s better on the left and he’s more comfortable on the left. He’s going to be a solid player for sure.
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Cornerback Jeff Okudah was hoping to bounce back from a tough 2020 rookie season. Instead, the No.3 pick in last year’s draft was beaten hard on a long touchdown pass and then suffered an injury to the Achilles ending the season.
“I hate it for him and I hate it for the team,” said Campbell. “He was coming, and now his whole goal has to be to prepare for 2022.”
Along with Decker and Okudah, the Lions lost wide receiver Tyrell Williams to a late injury. Williams, listed as Detroit’s No. 1 receiver, finished with two catches for 7 yards before the injury. He’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.
314: The number of passing yards Jim Garoppolo has racked up in just 25 attempts. Deebo Samuel finished with nine catches for 189 yards and George Kittle added four for 78.
ONE GAME AT A TIME
Campbell laughed when asked if Sewell’s performance could earn him the full-time left tackle job even when Decker comes back from injury.
“I would love to consider that possibility, but man, we’re so far off right now. We’re just trying to figure out how to put on the best lineup for the Packers on Sunday.”
Trying to improve offense and defense by passing in time for this weekend’s trip to Green Bay. The Packers will be desperate for a win after an embarrassing 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
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