Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions were still searching for their first win of the season when Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals came to town. After last week’s performance, many wondered if they could hang with the Bengals and steal a game.
However, the Lions couldn’t get anything going, and Cincinnati beat them 34-11. All of Detroit’s points came late in the fourth quarter when the game was all but over.
Here are five numbers that recap the Lions’ loss against the Bengals.
Jared Goff had a rough outing against the Bengals on Sunday, completing just one of his seven passes beyond 10 yards. After the game, Campbell said that Goff needed to “step up more” when asked about his recent play. Though Goff was most likely never going to be the long-term quarterback in Detroit, it is surprising to see a coach be so open about the poor play of his current quarterback.
If the Lions are going to get their first win sometime soon, they will need Goff to step up and perform, even with his already depleted wide receiver core. With a majority of the receiving coming from the running backs and T.J. Hockenson, the Lions’ offense will need to get creative on how to get the ball downfield.
The Lions’ passing game isn’t the only part of the offense that struggled on Sunday. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams recorded 35 yards on 17 carries (2.05 yards a carry). While most of the blame is being put on Goff, the running game needs to do a better job of creating positive momentum and allowing this team to get ahead of the chains on early downs.
Though both Williams and Swift offer significant upside as pass catchers, it becomes harder to involve them in the offense when the Lions get behind early like they did on Sunday. The running game will be the real tone-setter for this team, and their ability to create positive plays early will be monumental in the quest for their first win.
After a difficult game last week going up against Everson Griffen, Lions rookie tackle Penei Sewell was able to bounce back strong and only allow two pressures. While the offensive line didn’t look great against the Bengals, it is important to remember that they are still without their starting center and left tackle in Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker, respectively.
Though Sewell still has significant strides to make in his all-around game as he continues to improve during his first season in the NFL, it is impressive that a player of his age can hold his own against established veterans. When Ragnow and Decker return, the Lions may have three of their five offensive linemen of the future on the current roster.
On Sunday, Derrick Barnes was one of the Lions’ best players, recording nine tackles on just 33 snaps. While it is hard to pick out many positives from the defensive effort, we saw an emergence of one of the defensive rookies who looks to potentially carve out a role with this team in the future.
With no Jamie Collins in the middle anymore, the Lions will need a heartbeat to their defense in the middle — someone like a Roquan Smith or Eric Kendricks, who is in and around the action at all times, in both the run and pass game. If Barnes can progress and show consistency this season while making steady improvements, we could see him take the role as the heartbeat of this defense.
After much debate about who the Bengals should have taken in the draft, their first-round selection, Ja’Marr Chase, went for 97 yards on four grabs. The Bengals passed up on Sewell, allowing him to go to Detroit, and the move was the subject of many memes by armchair GMs.
While Sewell had a good game, Chase is currently the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Given Detroit’s lack of depth at the receiver position, you have to wonder if the Lions’ front office and their fans feel some consternation over what might have happened if the Bengals had opted for Sewell and Chase fell into their laps.