Three years ago, the Detroit Lions opened the season with a new coaching staff. And they got run out of their own building, losing 48-17 to the New York Jets to open the Matt Patricia era.
Three years later it looked like the Lions would open the Dan Campbell era in a similar fashion, as they were down 38-10 halfway through the third quarter.
But then the craziest thing happened, Detroit didn’t roll over and die. They dug in and started to claw their way back into the game. And while the game was a lot more lopsided than the final score would indicate, for a few moments everyone in the football world noticed that this Detroit Lions team was not made of quitters.
Dan Campbell and his staff earned some respect after this game, getting his team to keep fighting despite all signs pointing to the game being over. The Lions certainly will be a tough out for every team this season, and that is not something that should be overlooked.
Offense: 3/5 Stars
Everyone has been waiting for months to see exactly what this new Lions offense would look like, and it was about what everyone would have guessed.
Detroit lived underneath for a majority of this game, check down after check down to the running backs. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams combined for 16 catches on 20 targets, and the pair combined for 121 receiving yards and a touchdown courtesy of a screen pass to Swift.
T.J Hockenson also had a great game, hauling in eight catches for 97 yards and a score. It’s very evident that he and Jared Goff have developed a connection over the course of training camp, and Hockenson should be in line for a monster season.
Best offensive player: Jamaal Williams
As mentioned above, Williams had a great day as a receiver, but he was just as good on the ground. Running the ball nine times for an additional 54 yards and a touchdown. 110 total yards with a trip to the end zone in your Lions debut? Not too bad at all.
His workload may decrease as Swift returns to health. But if this game was any indication, Williams will be a big piece of this offense going forward.
Worst offensive player: Jared Goff
While Goff’s numbers may look pretty good, he really wasn’t great until the last few moments.
Early on, Goff missed Amon-Ra St. Brown for a wide-open touchdown, putting the ball just out of reach for the rookie.
Later, in the second quarter, he threw a brutal pick-six. While he was pressured, it was still an ugly throw that you don’t ever want to see.
He managed to help bring Detroit back within a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but he didn’t quite have enough left in the tank.
Going forward you want to see fewer check-downs out of Goff and see more targets to his wide receivers rather than his running backs.