Lions football is back as they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, September 11, for week one of the NFL season. Carrying in the hope of new dawn for Lions football, the team took action with a sold out Ford Field behind them. Entering the game as the underdog at +4.5 against the spread and +190 against the moneyline on most major sportsbooks, the team had a lot to overcome, but failed to do so. With a sold out crowd that made their presence known, the Lions played a thriller. There will be a lot of work to do during the week as the Lion lost in a hard fought battle 38-35.
With week one in the books, here are my takeaways from today’s game:
Lions Rushing Defense:
In their last matchup, the Eagles dominated on the ground, rushing for 235 yards and four touchdowns. Halting the Eagles high-powered rushing offense was a huge part of the game plan according to Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell. With the rushing defense being the Lions biggest weakness, it was clear they needed to put extra time into preparing for that aspect of play. Linebackers Derrick Barnes, Alex Anzalone, and Malcolm Rodriguez all looked solid. They were decent in zone coverage and against the inside run. Sealing the edge against outside runs and mobile quarterbacks was also something the team tried to address in practice. That weakness showed as the Lions struggled to keep Hurts from running. He easily ran for a touchdown and 90 yards, also escaping for multiple first down conversions. They held the Eagles to 216 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. The weak rushing defense was eventually what cost them the game, as they gave up multiple third down conversions, including a squeaked out run by Miles Sanders.
Lions Offense Struggles to Produce:
Coming into this game, the biggest question was the defense and how it would perform. Now, it seems the offense has a lot to figure out, specifically in the air. The rushing game had a few highlight plays with D’Andre Swift, but other than that the offense struggled. Jared Goff missed a few throws, throwing a pick-six to James Bradberry early in the game. He did bounce back a little late in the third, but still needs to work on hitting his out routes. This hindered the Lions, getting them into a scoring deficit early as they had multiple three and outs in a row. Playing catchup was the hardest part for the Lions, even after the offense found their footing. Receivers dropping balls didn’t help late in the game as well. After the defense helped with a few stops. The Lions scored fourteen unanswered points to bring the game within three. Unfortunately the mid game stall hurt them too bad. They failed to keep up with the Eagles firepower, and it cost them the game.
D’Andre Swift Explodes to Start the Year:
Lions running back D’Andre Swift has always had the talent to dominate at the NFL level. Clear holes in his game has prevented him from taking that next step. Putting on a lot more muscle and learning to be a more physical runner had fans excited for his 2022 start. Today he was untouchable. Starting the game with a 51-yard run on his first carry, he set the tone fast for Detroit. After a few bad drives from the offense, he broke free on multiple runs again before scoring a crucial touchdown towards the end of the second quarter. He ran with a lot more power and confidence, pushing defenders over on numerous occasions. He had 144 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jeff Okudah Shines in his Regular Season Return:
Jeff Okudah was impressive in his limited play during preseason. After retuning form a torn Achilles, he showed that his hard work was paying off as he earned the second cornerback spot alongside Amani Oruwariye. His quickness seemed to take a huge step up along with his ball skills. He was great in coverage and had 7 tackles. His size and high IQ play was on full display in his return. He will be a player to keep your eye on as the season develops.
Tracy Walker III gets Ejected after Thriving:
Tracy Walker was a standout from today’s matchup. His veteran presence greatly helped the Lions in coverage and on the ground. He was fantastic shooting the gap on safety blitzes, even getting a sack. That wasn’t the only time he was in the backfield, as he got a tackle for loss. Unlike multiple Lions corners today, Walker was fantastic in coverage. He stuck to receivers like glue and had a pass break up in zone coverage. His passion for the game showed as he got two late personal fouls that ejected him from the game. Hopefully he can continue his strong play in week two.
The Lions return to action September 18, against the Washington Commanders. They’ll look to get their first win/keep a perfect record against the Carson Wentz led squad.
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