With the Friday morning timeslot, I’ve done two game recaps this season, both Packers Lions games. The first was a depressing look at our first hint that the next 6 weeks wouldn’t go very well. This one will be exciting.
This was Jordan Love’s coming-out game for national fans. We’ve known for four weeks now that Love is far more than just a guy. That he can make every hard throw and is starting to the easy ones consistently, too. After Love tore up the 8-2 Lions’ defense today, there’s no more denying that he is the QB of the future for the Packers.
Not only did Love show up the Lions on a national stage, but he also did it with 3 of what were probably the team’s five best skill players just last week. Aaron Jones, Dontayvion Wicks, and Luke Musgrave were out. Love was throwing to rookies like Tucker Kraft and Malik Heath all night.
AJ Dillon averaged under 4 YPC and Patrick Taylor didn’t fare much better. In fact, Love was just four yards away from leading the team in rushing. The Lions built their defense to stop the run and they did, but they couldn’t stop Love.
The defense was up and down. It forced three turnovers early and pressured Goff all day but was probably a little too conservative in the second half when the Lions amassed a ton of (mostly garbage time) yards and almost squeaked back into the game late.
It was a fun Thanksgiving game so there’s no reason to dwell on the negatives, let’s go over some positives on defense:
- Rashan Gary had an insane three sacks and two fumbles forced.
- Jonathan Owens had 12 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Owens has gotten beaten up a little on Packers Twitter the past few weeks but he was definitely where he needed to be today.
- The Packers’ secondary as a whole held up fairly well despite having zero of the team’s preferred week 1 starters (Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas). The Lions had a few easy downfield throws on crossers and broken coverages, but that’s going to happen in every game with the current scheme/coaching, it’s a plus that the defense generally looked the same and held the opposing offense under 24 points again.
- Kenny Clark has been a monster the past few weeks. He and Gary are a big reason that the defense has looked passable.
Rich Bisaccia also caught some flack this week for having the 31st-best special teams by DVOA while being the highest-paid special teams coach. I thought the special teams had their best performance of the year today despite a missed XP.
Whelan pinned the Lions back deep several times in the game when the Packers needed to run clock. Whelan has shown off a powerful leg this season, but this was the first time that he had multiple coffin corner type punts in a game.
The Lions love to fake punts and the Packers sniffed one out and stuffed it today. That’s the type of thing you would’ve expected them to give up just a few weeks ago.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.