Detroit Lions

The Predictable Eagles Take the Lions To A New Low

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta (USA TODAY Sports)

This one was supposed to be attainable. This game was circled as a prime opportunity for the Detroit Lions to get their first win of the season. Instead, the Philadelphia Eagles ran it down Detroit’s throat, and Dan Campbell‘s team somehow turned in their worst performance of the season by far.

The numbers in this one do all the talking. While box scores can be deceiving, this one represents stark reality. A dark bye week is coming for Detroit.

Jalen Hurts attempted 14 total passes on Sunday. His previous low in attempts came back in Week 2 when he had 23 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Hurts did not record a touchdown against the Lions. It was the first game this year in which he did not have at least one score, either passing or rushing. Instead, the Eagles ran it 46 times. Boston Scott and Jordan Howard had two rushing touchdowns apiece.

The game plan for Philly was simple. Perhaps most alarming is that Scott and Howard aren’t even regarded as middle-tier running backs. Scott has been elevated to a starter’s role by the injury to Miles Sanders, and Howard was most recently chilling on the Eagles’ practice squad. On Sunday, the veteran back, who has bounced around throughout his career, averaged 4.8 yards per pop and had 57 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Detroit made Howard look like a solid NFL starter.

Detroit is now 0-8, but they haven’t played the part of a team as bad as their record. Narrow losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings on last-second field goals were haunting. Pulling out all the tricks against the Los Angeles Rams and still losing by nine in Week 7 was admirable but deflating. However, Sunday’s performance against the Eagles was flat-out embarrassing for numerous reasons, perhaps none more than the fact that the Eagles repeatedly kept running the ball successfully with some middle-of-the-road backs.

The loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was chalked up to a superior opponent with a lot of talent that was playing really good football. Against the Rams, the rosters could not have been more opposite in terms of talent; nobody expected the Lions to hang in like they did. But against the Eagles, it was supposed to be different. What should’ve been an opportunity to put a lot of pressure on a tail-spinning Philadelphia squad quickly morphed into a circus act for Detroit. Campbell took the blame afterward.

“I felt like we got outcoached today,” Campbell said. “We got outplayed across the board. That starts with me. It really does. You don’t play that bad with a number of guys and areas, and turn the ball over, and (commit) penalties, and it’s low energy. You don’t do that unless that comes from the top, so that’s on me. I did not set the tone or the tempo properly, obviously. Because that was bad. We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”

While in past weeks, the emotion from Campbell after losses has earned him supporters through a gutting rebuild. Throughout this year, the Lions had made up for their roster and injury deficiencies by playing inspired football and limiting egregious errors. But none of that was the case against the Eagles.

Detroit was called for numerous illegal substitution penalties on Sunday. There were multiple dropped passes, a huge 35-yard completion to Amon-Ra St. Brown that was wiped out when D’Andre Swift split out and covered up tight end T.J. Hockenson. And, just for good measure, toss in a missed field goal. The only points of the day came in garbage time in the fourth quarter when the contest was already well out of reach. Not all losses are the same, and this one stung more.

The fact is that when you’re 0-8, it’s not all because of bad luck. This isn’t a good team. Despite that, this was the first time all year that the Lions looked like a team weighed down by its record. They came out flat and underwhelming and let an average team knock the lights out early. Still, Campbell doesn’t believe he’s lost the locker room after this one eyesore of a game.

“I’m not worried about my message. Now — well, I guess maybe I should be worried about my message, right?” Campbell said. “When you come out and play like this, that’s why you’re asking that, right? I’m not worried about losing this team. I’m not worried about that. I am worried about that I didn’t deliver the right message to get them ready to go. That’s what I’m worried — that’s what concerns me about what I did.”

Campbell’s team has their bye week next. Perhaps it’s coming at an appropriate time. The week off should give everyone time to exhale before trying again to hunt down their first win.

In a year that has seen nothing but losses, this one was by far the worst of the bunch. Detroit better pick up the pieces fast because nobody else in the NFL is going to be feeling sorry for them.

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