The Detroit Lions have a huge opportunity this weekend when they host Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.
Tagovailoa went down with a scary head injury in week four against Cincinnati. He was knocked unconscious and carted off the field. While there is an ongoing investigation on the series of events prior, during and after that moment, Tagovailoa is back on the field. And he’s back to leading the Dolphins to wins.
That would seem to spell doom for the 1-5 Lions. Miami’s 16-10 win last Sunday against Pittsburgh was not pretty, but it typically takes at-least one game for an offense to reacclimate to a different quarterback. With two weeks of practice with Tagovailoa, expect the Miami team that took down the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.
In the 18 quarters Tagovailoa played this season he’s been responsible for 1,296 passing yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions on a 67% completion rate. Every game he’s played this season (minus the game he was injured) he’s won.
With all that information, how does it factor into the Lions game plan for Sunday?
For the Lions, Sunday may be a rebound game. I’m not saying the Lions can pull off a victory, but it might be closer than expected.
Coming off a win, Tagovailoa will enter Ford Field with confidence. He’ll want to air out the ball as much as possible with Tyreek Hill at full-strength and Jaylen Waddle possibly in the mix.
The Lions Secondary is Key
This could be a great opportunity for Detroit’s secondary to build off their performance last week against Dallas. And Detroit’s game plan may be very similar to their approach against the Cowboys.
Last week Dak Prescott played his first game since getting injured, and he was trigger happy on the deep ball. So much so that Detroit had a few opportunities in the first half to pick off Prescott.
Lions rookie safety Kerby Joseph had two interception opportunities last week. If he, or anyone else in Detroit’s secondary, has a shot to pick the ball off this week, they won’t miss. Assuming Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant made that a point of emphasis at practice this week.
Detroit’s defense will be the x-factor in Sunday’s game. Early stops are imperative for the Lions to compete. The Lions played conservatively in Dallas and they were able to control the pace of the game. That cannot be the case against Miami. Eventually the offense will have to score touchdowns, not just field goals.
Through six games the Lions have shown they can only hang on so long. In their one win they allowed Washington to storm back in the second half. Detroit turned the ball over five times in the second half against Dallas after leading at halftime.
In the Lions first four games, (the competitive ones) the only game where they were up at halftime was a win. The other three ended in a one-score loss.
If they can get out front of Miami early, Detroit has a real chance at victory. They’ll need Jared Goff to hold on to the football, D’Andre Swift to find open space and Amon-Ra St.Brown to move the ball for first downs.
The four games Tagovailoa has played the Dolphins have only scored 38 second-half points. Just a little over one touchdown and a field goal per game. So if Detroit can outscore Miami by that margin in the first half, it could be a start for this five loss team.
Photo Credit: Andres Leiva – The Palm Beach Post – USA TODAY NETWORK