The element of surprise is over for Lions coach Dan Campbell in more ways than one.
Nobody is surprised that the Lions are a good football team, so they are going to get everybody’s best shot—even from bottom dwellers like the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
And do you know why that fake punt in the third quarter did not work? Once again, the element of surprise by Gambling Dan Campbell is gone. He tries to surprise teams too much, which means they are no longer surprised when he tries to surprise them.
The Lions faced a fourth-and-four play on their own 23-yard line when Campbell called for a direct snap to personal protector Jalen Reeves-Maybin. He was stopped for no gain, and the Packers took over and scored a touchdown three plays later to take a 15-point lead.
“Yeah, look that’s a bad call on me,” Campbell said. “That’s a bad call. I shouldn’t have done that to those guys. That’s a bad call.”
It’s only a bad call when it doesn’t work. The Lions did the same play in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. It worked. The Lions won the game, and we saw online cartoons of Campbell with the biggest sacks in America.
It did not work against Green Bay and now Campbell wears the dunce cap.
We know what the other problems are for the Lions. Anybody can see that.
The defensive front does not generate enough of a pass rush, and quarterback Jared Goff has turned into a turnover machine. I was willing to call it a fluke game when Goff was intercepted three times against the Bears.
Then it happened again. He fumbled three times against Green Bay. Instead of a valiant comeback by the Lions, they were drubbed 29-22 by Green Bay.
The Lions are officially the hunted after winning eight games before December and getting all this love from the networks and NFL experts.
Opponents no longer look past them which means the Lions must up their game again.
“We are going to have to fight and scratch for everything,” Campbell said. “We can’t be on cruise control.”
On defense, defensive coordinator Aaron Glen must blitz more if he wants to put heat on the quarterback. It is something he does not like to do, but when the league makes an adjustment to you and your old ways, it is important that you adjust to the league to stay a step ahead.
Goff felt no pressure for much of the season. Now that the heat is coming he must pay closer attention to hanging on to the ball. There is so many angles we talk about in football, but most games come down to one stat. How many times did you turn the football over?
The Lions have 10 days before heading to New Orleans. Then they face the Bears again in Chicago before battling Denver, going to Minnesota and Dallas. The back end of the schedule seemed so easy a few weeks ago.
Now it looks daunting.
It doesn’t have to be. The Lions must give the league a new look and Goff must hang onto the football.
“When we come back everybody is going to be challenged,” Campbell said.
For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet
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Original Photo Credit: Lon Horwedel – USA TODAY Sports