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Bills vs Lions Post Game Observations


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The Lions may have lost this game but they went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the NFL and didn't back down an inch.  They showed a lot of mental toughness today.  They took the Bills down to the last play of the game despite the difference in overall roster talent and the fact that the Lions were missing two starting guards and a starting CB.  This game was a real slug-fest that might finally help dispel the notion of the "same old Lions".  That said:

Coaching:

- Aaron Glenn did a nice job of keeping an explosive offense bottled up for most of the day.  They only really big play was the late pass over the middle to Stefon Diggs they got that because Kerby Joseph was a half-step late in his coverage.  

- Ben Johnson called a pretty good game today.  He had Jared Goff spreading the ball around pretty effectively and was able to create match-up problems.  The Jet sweep with Amon Ra St Brown on 4th and 1 was really smart.  He kept the offense rolling despite not having two starting guards and Jared Goff's so-so ball placement on deep balls.

- Overall I think Dan Campbell did a nice job today.  Leaving 23 seconds on the clock isn't bad clock management.  He just expected his defense to be able to make a couple of stops.  That probably would have been effective against any QB other than Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes.

Special Teams

- It was really awesome to see Khalif Raymond make a great punt return at a key moment in the game.  Khalif Raymond has stepped up his play on offense and special teams lately.

- Can someone call Jason Hanson to see if he is available?  Michael Badgley may have made a 51-yard FG late but missing the early FG is not something you can do against a team like the Bills or almost any other NFL team.  I don't know what the draft grade is on Jake Moody but he might be one of the "must have" players for the Lions in the draft.

One a semi-related note:  I saw the article below on the extra point for Buffalo's first TD.  Maybe it is the angle of the camera but it doesn't really look like he make the kick.  Weird but normal with the Lions I guess.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/it-sure-looked-like-tyler-bass-missed-his-extra-point-during-bills-lions/ar-AA14wfei?ocid=SK216DHP&pc=SK216&cvid=e1a53864abcf4c0e88cdbcb706a54840

Offense

- Jared Goff is what he is:  An effective QB on short and intermediate routes.  His ball placement on longer throws isn't great and it showed up today.  He played a pretty good game but missed a couple of good opportunities to get some chunk-plays from our passing game.  Our offense will continue to be constrained to efficient/ball control until Jared Goff or someone else shows some competence in the vertical passing game.

- DJ Chark finally made a play that we were expecting from a 6'4" WR.  He made a great catch in the back of the endzone on a very good pass from Jared Goff.  Lets hope he can make life easier for Amon Ra St Brown

- Amon Ra St Brown may not be the biggest or fastest WR but he just keep making plays.  His biggest problem is that he still doesn't have a WR to compliment his game.  He reminds me of Hines Ward without the dirty hits

- TE James Mitchell needs to see more targets.  He just seems to have a natural feel for the passing game.  I thought he had an nice reception early but I didn't see it in the game stats

- I want to like D'Andre Swift as I suspect most Lions fans do.  I don't know if it is his injury issues but it looks like he is avoiding contact in key situations.  The catch he dropped at the goal-line was a very makeable catch but it looked like he pulled back to avoid punishment and caused an incompletion.  He also seems to come up just short of the first-down marker on a lot of his runs.  I don't see him becoming RB2 or RB1 at this point

- As mentioned above, Khalif Raymond is making some nice plays.  We need more speed on offense and hopefully Ben Johnson will find a way to get him some targets in space.  It seems like he would be very effective on some of the same routes that are run by D'Andre Swift

Defense

- Even though the Lions didn't get a lot of sacks they did a good job of pressuring Josh Allen in the first half.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to generate the pressure we needed late in the game

- Isaiah Buggs and Alim McNeil are playing really well right now.  They are doing a great job with clogging up running lanes and creating pressure up the middle

- James Houston came out of nowhere today to provide a lot of badly needed QB pressure in the first half.  It is crazy to see yet another rookie step up like that.

- Jerry Jacobs is a great tone-setter for our defense but he needs to stop hooking his arm at the waist of WRs.  You may get away with that once in a while but referees will pick up on that stuff just like they did today.

- Austin Bryant's roughing the passer penalty was horrible no matter what field position the Bills had but to do it in the Red Zone was inexcusable.  The Bills scored a TD one play later.  He hasn't done much since being drafted and it could be argued that helped lose the game for the Lions.  Personally, I hope they release him on Monday morning.  

- Mike Hughes had a really solid game.  He isn't great in the slot but is good playing outside

- There seemed to have been some kind of breakdown on the late catch by Stefon Diggs.  Will Harris released as if he was expecting Kerby Joseph take over in coverage.  Kerby Joseph got there a little late and Stefon Diggs made them pay.  

 

I thought the Lions played pretty well today.  They battled hard and gave themselves a chance to win against a much better team.  They say there are no moral victories but this is the type of game that will help the young core of this team get a lot stronger.  Thoughts?

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I disagree on your comment about leaving 23 seconds on the clock.  Not only was there 23 seconds on the clock, the Bills also had 3 time outs left.  I don't hate being aggressive on the third down play but not really with our current WR play and Goff's deep balls.  I also didn't like how we crossed mid field and at that point decided to play for the tie instead of winning in regulation.  We settled at that point and our clock management there was awful.  If we played it smart we could have had 40 seconds left and done a QB sneak for the few inches we needed for the first.  Then had 30 seconds and a time out to take some shots at scoring a TD.  Or at least could have caused Buffalo to burn a time out, which if they had one less time out they would have had to kick that FG from 9 yards further out as they likely wouldnt have ran that last QB draw.  

Aside from that, leaving so much time in the first half was also a bad call.  We had the ball at the 5 with 2:20 left and the clock running and ended up running two plays before the two minute warning.  The odds we get another possession in the first half were small so just burn clock.  If we give them the ball back with 40 seconds to go they might have scored still, but the percentages they score with 40 seconds are less than if they had 1:40.  

Goff's lack of deep ball I think is partially due to our lack of WR talent that goes vertical.  Chark was supposed to be that until Jameo comes back but he has been hurt and has little to no chemistry with Goff it seems.  Other than that we just don't have guys that can burn or run the routes to get over the top and be open.  My biuggest issue with Goff is that he is super streaky and seems to let bad plays linger.  The almost sack that turned into an almost INT was a turning point in his effectiveness.  He missed quite a few passes after that after being very accurate prior.  He needs to have a short memory and move on and if he can ever do that, I think he can still be a pretty solid QB in the league. 

I agree on most of your other points.  I really liked how we competed with a good team and took advantage of matchups. We got pressure but again had no answer for a mobile QB but that tends to be a lot of teams issues.  Upgrading Anzalone and our nickel/dime DBs would help a ton. Fortunately we wont see another running QB other than Fields again in week 16.  

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