Why the Detroit Lions’ first win under Darrell Bevell did more harm than good

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
| Detroit Free Press

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Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions following the Detroit Lions win Sunday over the Chicago Bears, 34-30.

Great win, right?

Wrong. What are you doing, Lions? You’re winning now? When winning doesn’t matter? When all that matters is draft position? Let me be very clear. Sending the Bears to their sixth straight loss accomplished three things: It dropped the Lions in the draft order, it exposed Mitchell Trubisky for the terrible quarterback he really is and it probably ended Matt Nagy’s coaching career. Now the Lions and Bears are both 5-7 and they’re both going to need a head coach and a quarterback. According to Tankathon, Detroit started the day at ninth in the 2021 draft order, now they’re 12th. The Lions needed to lose this game to betterposition themselves in having the best chance at a good quarterback and to make themselves more appealing to coach and general manager candidates. Instead, the team gets to come home feeling good about itself — a fleeting feeling on a squad that will replace almost all of its coaching staff and more than a third of its players after this season. Let’s hope everyone remembers how good this felt when the Lions are picking outside of the top 10 when the draft rolls around in April.

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Did the Lions look refreshed and better under Darrell Bevell?

No, even though that’s an easy, lazy and simple-minded narrative that’s going to be perpetuated. Trust me. I know some of these players fairly well, I watch every game, I’m on just about every Zoom call every week. I’ve seen players quit before. This team had not quit under coach Matt Patricia. They just weren’t playing well — on both sides of the ball. Maybe some players didn’t like Patricia’s methods and considered them too oppressive. But to think some kind of mental weight has been lifted and now they’re playing more freely because they listen to music in practice is far-fetched. The more likely explanation is the simpler one: The Lions played one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks on one of the NFL’s coldest teams, caught two breaks down the stretch with a turnover and Allen Robinson’s mistake, and they capitalized. Credit to them. But other than a few more blitzes and some what-do-we-have-to-lose deep throws, there wasn’t much different about the game plan under Bevell.

Was there anything you liked about the Lions’ performance?

“Like” is a strong word. But I have to give credit to the complementary nature of the Lions’ victory. The defense forced two straight three-and-outs and then recovered a fumble on Romeo Okwara’s strip sack of Trubisky that gave the Lions’ offense the ball at the Chicago 7. Matthew Stafford’s surgical 5-for-6 passing performance on the previous drive that cut the deficit to 30-27 was impressive. It’s just a shame Stafford and the offense to shine usually waits for the 4-minute or 2-minute drill to shine. It was good see the defense try something a little different, but the blitzes didn’t seem very effective. Marvin Jones — eight catches for 116 yards and one touchdown — had his first 100-yard game of the season and T.J. Hockenson continues to make big plays. The Lions were shorthanded in the secondary and on offense without their best receiver or running back, but they found a way to stay in the game, play their best at the end and take advantage of the Bears’ mistakes.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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