The 2022 Detroit Lions were on the edge of greatness for the first time in a long time, but then it all came to a screeching halt when the Lions traveled to North Carolina to play the Panthers. Detroit was thrashed in the first half for over two hundred rush yards. Both Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman, were over a hundred yards by the time the first half came to a close. By the end of the game, the Carolina Panthers broke their own franchise record for most rushing yards in a game with a total of 320 yards in the rushing game. Additionally, Sam Darnold had a day himself completing 15 passes out of 22 for 250 yards, 1 passing touchdown, and 1 rushing touchdown. However, this very productive performance by Darnold could be attributed to the fact that the Lions defense had to adjust to the run game resulting in easier throws.
The Lions Lion’d there playoff chances. If they decided to play defense and got the win, the Lions would be sitting in the last playoff spot heading into week 17. However after taking that typical same old Lions loss, the Lions sit outside of the playoffs behind the Commanders and Seahawks. Mathematically speaking, the Lions still have a good chance of making the playoffs, but if the Lions defense reverts back to form at the start of the season then there is no chance of them making the playoffs.
Here are two answers as to why the defense was so bad:
Not a Typical Week of Practice
The Lions had a very untypical week of practice ahead of playing the Panthers. Taking into consideration the massive snow storm, the Lions decided to leave a day early. This could be attributed as to why the Lions were so unprepared on the defensive side of the ball.
However game planning against the Panthers does not feel like such a hard job. If I was in charge of game planning, I would have loaded the box to sell out on the run, forcing Sam Darnold to throw it to win. While Sam Darnold did have a productive performance, it was because the running game opened up the passing game in the second half. Even though game planning against the Panthers does not seem to be very hard, it would have really benefited the Lions to game plan for one more day.
The Lions are Reverting Back to a Historically Bad Defense
Watching the Lions against the Panthers was like watching a high school defense go up against a professional offense. The players were undisciplined, reverting back to their old ways. The perfect play to exemplify this would be the first play when Chuba Hubbard broke away for 30 yards. Aidan Hutchinson rushed in, not setting the edge, allowing him to get to the outside and get a big gain.
Then Chuba Hubbard that same drive broke away again for an even bigger gain of 35 yards. This was attributed to the fact that he was not stopped at the line even though he should have because there were 8 Lions players in the box. If you got that many players in the box then the A-gap should not have a big gaping hole like there was. This not only occurred once, but it was a recurring theme.
The missed tackles were also a huge problem. It was a recurring theme all day long. On some plays the Lions just did not know how to tackle which resulted in big plays where a player would get away from multiple people trying to tackle them. A viral highlight from the game showcases the Lions inability to tackle. Panthers’ Laviska Shenault Jr. caught the ball for a short gain but ended up breaking away for a much longer gain for 43 yards.
Or maybe the Panthers are surging and becoming Super Bowl contenders?
Yeah … I don’t know about this.