Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions about the Detroit Lions’ 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday at Ford Field.
What does this loss mean?
Simple. It means the Lions won’t win a game this season. I’ve said all along that victories don’t matter this season for this regime. Even their first one. But this was a waste. Yes, the Lions lost electric running back D’Andre Swift to a shoulder injury midway through the second quarter. But they still had enough on offense and defense to beat a bad team on the ropes such as the Bears. A win would only be a shot in the arm and a morale boast for the Lions, effectively changing nothing in terms of the division or the NFL draft order. But if the Lions couldn’t beat a bad team in front of a packed house in their most important home game, how they going to beat anybody else the rest of the way, with a lot less on the line? It seems improbable, if not impossible. Hello, 0-16-1.
What did you think of Dan Campbell’s play-calling?
It was a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Campbell came out strong and aggressive, calling for a deep pass by Jared Goff to Josh Reynolds for a 39-yard touchdown on third down. Then he went way too conservative, calling three straight runs (for no gain) when the Lions were backed up at their own 4 to start the next drive. Meanwhile, the Bears’ Matt Nagy was employing an aggressive game plan and coaching like his future depended on it, which it probably does. The Bears took a 10-7 lead on two plays: Andy Dalton’s 52-yard pass to Darnell Mooney and then a 17-yard pass to Jimmy Graham. The Lions started the second half on offense and went three-and-out on two runs and a short pass on third down to Kalif Raymond for no gain. A conservative plan was understandable in Cleveland; quarterback Tim Boyle was playing his first game since August. But with Goff back, Campbell should have matched Nagy’s urgency and taken more chances early against a desperate team.
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Can the Lions be effective without Swift?
The Lions’ top weapon on offense left the game midway through the second quarter when he suffered an injury to his right shoulder. Jamaal Williams and Godwin Igwebuike did a nice job stepping up in his absence. Swift will at least have an extra few days to recover before the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 5. But it’s hard to imagine the Lions putting together enough offense when opponents don’t have to plan against Swift. It will be a true testament to Campbell’s strategy and play-calling if the Lions can win once against their final six opponents. But I don’t like what the Lions’ offensive will look like without their most effective player.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.