The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions both played exciting — if a bit sloppy — games in Week 1. Unfortunately for Lions fans, it was exciting for all the wrong reasons. The Lions surrendered a trio of fourth quarter touchdown passes to Mitchell Trubisky as the Bears completed an unlikely comeback. To add insult to injury, rookie running back D’Andre Swift dropped a would-be game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, leaving the Lions searching for answers on offense as they head into their Week 2 date with the Packers.
So who are the Lions, really, in Year 3 of the Matt Patricia era? Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit gave us some insight into Detroit’s offense in part one of our two-part preview chat.
APC: Matt Stafford is one of the more divisive QBs league-wide. Some people really like him, others are less charitable. What’s Matt Stafford in 2020 to you?
MP: Matthew Stafford is and always has been the glue holding the team together. We saw in 2019 what happens to this team when Stafford is not on the field. Bottom line is that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he’ll likely continue to be in 2020. Sadly, it may not be enough.
It’s obviously very early, but what do you think of the Lions’ overall offensive approach this season? Is it sound or would you like to see something different?
If we’re judging the team based on what happens in camp and at practice, they’re an explosive offense that’s super fun to watch and really hard to stop. Somewhere between there and an actual game they forget how to play. I think a lot of it has to do with coaching. The Lions coaching staff will allow their offense to play to their potential in the second quarter of every game. Then when the team has the lead, they strip everything away and go conservative. It’s truly maddening.
What do you expect from T.J. Hockenson in year 2?
I expect big things from Hockenson after he spent the summer working with George Kittle of the 49ers. He showed up in tremendous shape and was probably Stafford’s favorite target over the summer. He is a mismatch problem for linebackers who can’t keep up with him over the middle. Expect to see him get targets on Sunday. Whether it will be enough targets is the big question.
I don’t think anybody would have predicted a month ago that Adrian Peterson would be the Lions’ leading rusher in Week 1. What did you think when the Lions added their long-time NFC North rival and what do you think he can bring to the Lions this year?
I think it was the best fit for him based off the fact that he had previously worked with Darrell Bevell in Minnesota. So far it’s paid off. Not just on the field, but Peterson has been a natural leader for the young running back corps right out of the gate. It helps that those guys idolized him as kids. It’s too early to tell, but right now it seems like this 35-year-old running back is the spark this running game has needed for a while.
Stay tuned tomorrow as we preview the defense in part two of our Q&A.