The Detroit Lions may keep losing games, but the sooner Dan Campbell finds balance to his aggressiveness the better.
In an interesting development, Jared Goff actually went down the field a couple of times. One of those throws even resulted in a touchdown. However, the only consistency the offense was able to manage was to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties.
That leads to the two observations that caused the Lions to lose a very winnable game against the Chicago Bears. Both need to be addressed, but one is a big issue that has to be resolved for Dan Campbell to find success as the Lions head coach.
The first is evident. Penalty flags will kill a drive faster than a stout defense. Especially when they get stacked up one after another. Mental discipline is imperative to minimalizing mistakes that cause penalties. This coaching staff is responsible for building that discipline. Penalties happen. It’s part of the game for even the most disciplined teams. But good teams don’t stack up the mistakes the way the Lions did on Thursday, on the field and on the sideline, and the Lions always seem to make mistakes at crucial moments.
Dan Campbell has to find balance to his aggressiveness
The second observation is more critical to the long-term success of Campbell. He has to find a balance to his aggressiveness. Early in the season, he was often too aggressive. Now that he has taken over the reins of calling the Lions’ offensive plays, he has become incredibly conservative.
Everyone knows Campbell wants to establish a productive ground game. However, that should be part of a diverse offense that is willing to not only run at all times, but is equally willing to throw in almost any situation.
In situations like second-and-32, there are no plays to turn to. But the aggressiveness to try to get a chunk of it back to create a gainable third down has to be there. The litany of third-and-long draw plays is a concern.
Aggressiveness comes with risk, and the Lions’ offense can’t afford mistakes to put them further behind the eight-ball. But if Campbell wants to call the plays, which is fine as the head coach, a no-risk, no-reward attitude has to surface more often.
The Lions are one decent offensive game away from getting a victory this season. Yes, the receivers still need to be better. But the time has come to be willing to use what is available. No more excuses about limited talent, even with running back D’Andre Swift possibly set to miss time. We all know about those limitations. If they have to lose, at least go down with some reasonable swinging.
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There is a lot for general manager Brad Holmes to improve when the offseason comes. but this season isn’t over yet. Now is the time for Campbell to find an aggressive balance and make the most of the games that are left, with benefits that will extend beyond this first season of a rebuild.