The Seattle Seahawks’ (5-10) home finale will be against the Detroit Lions (2-12-1), as both teams are just playing out the final two weeks with no postseason berth at stake. This is not a matchup we see very often, with just seven prior meetings between these sides dating back to 2003. Detroit hasn’t won in Seattle since 1999, which obviously means they’ve never won at Lumen Field.
While this figured to be yet another Seahawks showdown with quarterback Jared Goff, it looks like he might not be able to play this Sunday. If he can’t go, then Tim Boyle gets the nod for the third time this season. We’re not really here to talk about Tim Boyle, and I shudder to think what would happen if the Seahawks struggled against this level of backup quarterback.
I spoke with Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit about the Lions’ season, the offseason, and optimism levels.
1.) Has Jared Goff met, exceeded, or fail to meet expectations in his first season in Detroit?
The Jared Goff experiment has been different. Early on Goff was struggling mightily to do just about anything. It was like watching a guy’s career go down the tubes. He wouldn’t throw deep and he kept trying to be a mobile quarterback and failing hard at it. It was like Sean McVay had ripped his confidence out of his body and threw it in the trash. Then out of nowhere, Goff started balling. Obviously he’s no Matthew Stafford, but Goff has been pretty good since the bye week and even better since the Lions first win. It seemed like he really needed a confidence boost and somewhere along the line he got it. Now the question around town is if Goff should stay the Lions starter or should the Lions look to draft his replacement in April.
2.) Have you noticed any differences (good or bad) with Dan Campbell assuming playcalling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn?
The major difference is the Lions offense suddenly works. Jared Goff has been taking more chances and they’re paying off, the Lions run game has been the best it’s been in a very long time and guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown are coming on strong. Take a look at this graphic here:
So, for the month of December the Lions had the most efficient first-half passing offense in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/XYWgv2pdjD— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) December 28, 2021
The Lions were so bad in the first half of the season that their logo was damn near off the entire grid. Now the Lions are suddenly the most efficient first half passing offense in the league this month. That’s because Anthony Lynn is no longer calling the plays.
3.) Detroit has been deeply unlucky in a couple of their losses and they’re probably better than their 2-12-1 record suggests (as crazy as that sounds). What are your optimism levels for the future of this team?
The optimism is turned all the way up right now. The Lions beat the Arizona Cardinals with practice squad players two weeks ago and have looked like a successful organization despite the god awful start, a Covid outbreak and a flu outbreak. When teams can overcome stuff like this and they don’t give up, it’s cause for some optimism about the future. On top of all that, the Lions don’t seem to have a bad rookie in the bunch. All their guys both drafted and undrafted are developing nicely.
There’s still some big questions to answer, especially the quarterback one, but right now it looks like the Lions have the right coaching staff and front office in place to get things turned around faster than previously assumed. We’ll see where it goes from here.
4.) What are the biggest strengths of this Lions team? What about their weaknesses?
The Lions biggest strength is their run game. The Lions have been running the ball pretty well all season long, but since the bye week things have been better. On top of getting Jamaal Williams back last week and having practice squad sensation Craig Reynolds in the fold for good now, the Lions will have their number one running back D’Andre Swift back for this game. Swift looks like he could have a big break out very soon.
As for the weakness, while the Lions have not given up and they fight super hard, they’re just so young and not ready right now. The talent isn’t where it needs to be and it’s costing the Lions games. Plus the best talent that the Lions do have, seem to be hitting the IR one by one every week this season. They’re just a young group of guys that still has to learn how to win. Until they do that, they’re going to keep losing close games.
5.) It’s gonna be another year with a top-5 pick barring something dramatic. What do you see as Detroit’s biggest need in the draft... and is his name Aidan Hutchinson?
Hutchinson is certainly a name to keep an eye on for the Lions. But, I’m not sure they wouldn’t take Kayvon Thibodeaux if they had the chance. Right now we have to see where the chips fall. If the Lions lose one more game, they’re guaranteed a top two pick. That very well could happen on Sunday. If the Lions have a top two pick, they’re definitely walking away with one of these two pass rushers.
Outside of that, the Lions do have another first round pick they got in the Matthew Stafford trade and I’d bet they’re going to use that to help fill in some of the holes they have at receiver. I’m sure a lot of pundits will mock a quarterback to the Lions, but this class isn’t that great and I’m betting the Lions want to give Jared Goff another year with a new OC and a fully healthy offense to see what he can do.
Thanks again to Mike for answering my questions! You can see my answers to his questions over at POD.