To say that the Detroit Lions have overachieved so far this season is a gross understatement. Heading into their Week 11 matchup against Division rival, the Chicago Bears, the Lions have surpassed expectations of Lions fans and the oddsmakers at online sportsbooks in Michigan with their 7-2 record to lead the NFC North. The Lions currently have the second-best record in the NFC behind the 8-1 Eagles.
Utilizing the bye week to its fullest, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell delved into analyzing his team’s performance and pinpointing areas that need work and refinement. In anticipation of their upcoming game against the Bears, the coach, now in his third year, disclosed three significant areas that he aims to see advancement in during the final nine games of the regular season.
The Five Big Issues Facing Detroit
Fresh off their bye week, The Detroit Lions didn’t show any signs of rust by edging out the Los Angeles Chargers 41-38. However, the turnover-takeaway ratio is still a work in progress.
The Lions Need to Own Both Red Zones
This season, there has been a significant decrease in execution in the red zone for both the offense and defense. The Lions’ offense currently ranks 24th in the league with a red-zone touchdown percentage of 48.2 percent, while the defense ranks 26th with a percentage of 65.4 percent. Campbell explained that many of these mistakes were self-induced and have had a significant impact on the team’s performance.
The Lions Need to Step It Up on Third Down
There were and still are many skeptics about the mega trade between the Lions and the Rams that sent Jared Goff to the Lions and Matthew Stafford to the Rams. Many football experts considered Goff a bust in Los Angeles, and the lack of third-down production isn’t helping to silence the critics. But, if Goff and company can convert more third downs, not only can they score more, but they can keep their defense fresh and out of bad situations.
The Third Quarter Scoring Must Improve
Despite the Lions being one of the better offenses in the NFL, their offense has seemingly been absent in the third quarter this season. In the initial five games of the season, they managed to score only one offensive touchdown during the third quarter.
Fortunately, there has been some progress lately, with touchdowns being scored in two out of the last three third quarters. However, it is evident that more improvement is needed, especially considering that they are the league’s second-ranked offense. The defense also needs to step up in this regard, as they have allowed points on the first drive after halftime in two of the last three games. Additionally, there was Goff’s pick-six against Las Vegas, which further highlights the need for improvement. On a positive note, Detroit has shown dominance in the fourth quarter and has managed to come out victorious in most weeks, despite the challenges they face at the beginning of the second half.
The Punt Return Is a Work in Progress
So far this season, All-Pro punt returner Kalif Raymond is only averaging a little more than 10 yards per return, with this season-long return of 24 yards. While the numbers aren’t bad, this is an area that can help jump-start the Lions; offense, especially in the third quarter. As the playoffs loom, field position can ultimately determine the Lion’s fate, so this is another area they need to drastically improve.
More Turnovers are Needed
So far, the Lions’ defense only has an unimpressive 10 takeaways this season, while the offense has given the ball away 10 times. As the playoffs loom, a turnover or a takeaway is enough to decide playoff position or a playoff game. Lions fans will be watching how Goff responds from a recent pick-six, and if their defense can raise the heat on opposing offenses.