The Lions are coming off one of the most stereotypical Lions losses we’ve seen this season. The Philadelphia Eagles took the Lions to the slaughterhouse, handily defeating them 44-6. Not only did they get killed, but they have yet to win a game. Detroit currently sits at 0-8.
No one wants a repeat of 2008, but luckily there are ways to address that. Although Detroit doesn’t have a chance to add to the win column this Sunday, they are presented an opportunity to recalibrate. If they use their bye week correctly, they will prepare not only for the Pittsburgh Steelers but also for the rest of the season.
A bye week is one of the best things that could have happened to Detroit after Philly beat them down. First, everyone needs to calm down and get on the same page. The Lions melted down last week. It didn’t even feel like anyone was on the same page, especially Dan Campbell. Everyone is getting tired of the same postgame speech and the same excuses.
The easiest improvement that can be made is for Campbell to take accountability for some of the losses and take ownership of the team. This is the simplest way to earn back some respect from his team and passionate fanbase.
Campbell took the first step in this direction by stating that he wants to get more involved in the offense. With how the offense has performed lately, any change would be huge. The Lions hired former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as their offensive coordinator this offseason, which seemed like a good hire at the time. But the Detroit offense has struggled tremulously halfway through the season. Expect the offense to look slightly different when the Lions take the field against the Steelers.
Not only does the offense need to improve, but they need to re-examine the defense following last Sunday’s loss. It has not been horrible per se and has shown flashes in some games. Holding the Baltimore Ravens offense to only 17 was an accomplishment. However, it has been inconsistent. You could get a defense that suffocates Lamar Jackson or one that makes Jalen Hurts look like a league MVP.
The passing defense had improved dramatically for Detroit before the Eagles game. There were flashes of improvement, and fans were expecting more. The run defense also disappointed to a remarkable degree against the Eagles. A team that isn’t necessarily known for running the ball had four rushing touchdowns, something that should be unacceptable for the type of hard-nosed, in-your-face football Campbell preaches.
Unlike the offense, they don’t need to completely revamp the defense. There are pieces that can lead to a great team, and there are occasional flashes of greatness. Detroit needs to reset their defenses fundamentals in the bye week and get them back to where they were before the Eagles game.
Finally, the most significant thing the Lions can do this week is game plan for the Steelers. Considering how close the Lions have been to beating some good teams like the Rams and Ravens, having more time to prepare could be the key to securing Detroit’s first win.
The Steelers are a good team up front. They play in one of the toughest divisions in football, and they have been competitive in almost every game they’ve played in, amassing a 4-3 record. That’s impressive when you consider who they’ve played against and Ben Roethlisberger’s inconsistency.
Given JuJu Smith-Schuster’s season-ending injury, the Steelers offensive game plan has revolved entirely around rookie running back Najee Harris. The former first-round pick can do it all for the Steelers, and he has proven his worth.
Unfortunately, the Lions have not performed well against running backs this season. Detroit gives up 134.5 rushing yards per game, 3rd worst in the league.
If the Lions can prepare for Harris, they will have a better chance of winning against the Steelers.
Overall, there is much room for improvement, which is good. This bye week will be crucial in determining how the latter half of Detroit’s season could go.