The Detroit Lions secured their second victory of the season as they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23. The much needed win bodes a sigh of relief from both management on the hot seat and morale-stricken players. Last Word on Sports looks at the three major takeaways for the Lions team.
Detroit Lions Week Five Takeaways
Jim Caldwell Will Keep His Job, for Now
In the first possession of the day, Detroit came out absolutely firing. The Lions came out with six running plays and ended with running back Theo Riddick scoring his first touchdown since week one. Caldwell and the coaching staff drew up a fantastic game plan, allowing Detroit to jump out to a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter. The quick lead can be credited towards the sharpness of quarterback Matthew Stafford, throwing very conservative passes going 19/25 for 180 yards and three scores.
Caldwell showed that the Lions will be sticking with at least some of the conservative play calling that has been under fire recently. Stafford didn’t throw a pass more than 15 yards all game, which is something relatively unseen from the side armed gunslinger. That was one of the subtle yet notable modifications made by the coaching staff. Caldwell adjusted more of his game plans—including a rare glimpse of his emotions. Wideout Golden Tate seeing three carries out of the backfield, five receivers/backs getting targeted by Stafford, a rotation of offensive lineman on plays, and going for it twice on fourth down are some of the notable offensive changes made.
Defense Improved vs Quality Opponents
Sunday was the first game Detroit did not allow a touchdown pass to a tight end. That huge glaring hole in the defense led Detroit to have one of the worst red zone efficiency ratings. Eagles tight end Zach Ertz only saw three balls thrown at him today, amassing 37 yards, an underrated moral victory against a quality pass catcher. Detroit limited hybrid wide receiver/tight end Dorial Green-Beckham with three catches for 43 yards, along with number one receiver Jordan Matthews, four catches worth 65 yards.
Cornerback Nevin Lawson finished with the highest rating of the game from Pro Football Focus (PFF), notching an 87.4 rating. PFF had the remaining safeties Tavon Wilson and Glover Quinn rated not far behind at 83 and 82. The stellar play from the secondary was wrapped up by cornerback Darius Slay’s two forced turnovers. His forced fumble created the chance to go ahead, while the interception sealed the second win on the year for the Detroit Lions.
The front seven also created havoc without star defensive players Ezekiel Ansah or DeAndre Levy. Detroit recorded three sacks vs a very formidable Eagles pass protection. There were a handful of plays where Carson Wentz had all day to throw the ball. These plays should become less and less once Detroit gets their studs back.
Tough Road Remains for Lions
The Minnesota Vikings remained undefeated as their defense continues to show absolute dominance. The defense held Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler to an 11.9 QBR rating, while stopping their running game at 53 total yards. The Green Bay Packers also won, defeating the New York Giants 23-16. The Giants were held to only 242 total yards by the Packer defense. These are both concerns for Detroit due to the three remaining games vs Minnesota and Green Bay. To be within the playoff hunt, Detroit will likely have to win two or three of those games. This task grows more challenging the more these teams continue to prove themselves. Detroit has a possibility to gain two wins versus the less challenging Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins at home before playing Minnesota in week eight.