The Lions are entering week eight and desperately need a win. Detroit fell back to 1-5 a week ago with a strikeless loss in Dallas, nullifying any potential momentum boost from the Week 6 bye.
Now the Miami Dolphins are coming to Ford Field for Sunday’s interconference matchup. It’s a game the Lions could absolutely win despite the difference in records and the Miami visitors who are currently considered the 3.5-point favorite. For the Lions to pull off the slightly upset win, they need a few key components to improve.
Last week’s predictions turned out to be prescient, if not necessarily positive. Three of the four named had good games but Jared Goff’s bad day killed any chance of victory.
4 Lions who need to have good games against Dallas in week 7
Goff is a repeat artist on the Week 8 list, but in a slightly different context. He will be joined by three other Lions who all need good days on Sunday for the team to have a realistic chance of beating the 4-3 Dolphins.
(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
“Rodrigo” has played relatively well as a starting linebacker for the Lions, but the sixth-round rookie has yet to improve against the Dolphins.
Rodriguez was quiet against Dallas, registering just three tackles and not closing holes with as much authority as he did earlier in the season. The Dolphins present a great opportunity for a rebound play for Rodriguez.
It’s simple: Miami’s run offense is one of the worst in the league. It’s a simple blocking scheme behind a line that isn’t great and doesn’t have a dynamic run threat. Top RB Raheem Mostert accelerates well and can break through arm tackles meaning Rodriguez needs to react quickly and adjust him. That’s how Rodriguez’s bread is buttered, but the Lions can’t afford to have it toasted, not even.
Last week, the Lions were able to use additional defenses to stop the run because Dallas wide receivers weren’t really threatening Detroit. That’s not the case with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle for the Dolphins. Those games, which Jeff Okudah made between tackles and just outside the box last week, are games Rodriguez – and fellow LB Alex Anzalone – will have to make alone against Miami.
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As we saw in Dallas last week, if Goff plays poorly and spins the ball four times alone, the Lions have no real chance of winning. Of course, this applies to almost every team.
Miami is a peculiar opponent on the takeaway front. They have seven in the season but those came in just three games. The Dolphins forced three in Week 1 and three more last week in their 16-10 win over Pittsburgh, capped by a sporting CB Noah Igbinoghene interception of Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett in a horrific decision in crunch time.
In Miami’s five games between those two productive games, the Dolphins managed just one takeaway. They’re not a team that constantly sacks or pressures; Miami’s sack count is at No. 24, just above the Lions at No. 26.
Goff needs to avoid the game-changing mistakes that plagued him in Dallas and New England in the Lions’ previous game. However, he must make it without sacrificing his confidence to attack Miami’s defense on the field. Getting Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift back helps bolster the weapons at Goff’s disposal, and that tends to bring out the better Goff. You know, the goff that took the Lions to the top of the league for the first four weeks.
if the Goff shows up against Miami, these Lions can absolutely beat the Dolphins. If we get the underwhelming Goff from the last two games, it will take an unprecedented amount of luck for Detroit to get past the bad quarterback and pull off a win three weeks in a row.
DeShon Elliott and Kerby Joseph
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Yes, there are two players in one listing. The starting fuses are too important to isolate just one of them.
It’s simple: Miami’s offensive relies on big moves in the passing game. The Dolphins have two of the fastest receivers in the league in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and a dangerously athletic tight end in Mike Gesicki. Teams that have relied on outside one-on-one coverage have learned the hard way that Hill and Waddle are too much and QB Tua Tagovailoa is more than happy to check on Gesicki when they are taken out of the game.
Elliott usually takes care of cover closer to the line, meaning Gesicki and the RBs get out of the backfield. Joseph, the Lions’ third-round rookie, has shown rapid growth in downfield coverage. He did very well in Pro Football Focus coverage and also passed the eye test. But Joseph hasn’t faced groundbreaking speed like Hill and Waddle offer individually — let alone together on opposite sides of the formation.
A strong pass rush would help the safeties, but they can’t count on it. Elliott and Joseph must be vigilant and seize opportunities to make plays. Tagovailoa isn’t afraid of deep shots, despite having average arm strength on his best day. An interception from Joseph or a delicate PD from Elliott on a third deficit would go a long way in helping the Lions defense continue to grow and hopefully secure a win.
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What makes a good game for Campbell as the Lions head coach?
Designing an opponent-specific game plan on both sides of the ball. Campbell focused on offense early in the season and played well. As he transitioned into becoming more involved in defense, this unit did well. Make both units play well at the same time, Coach!
Correct clock management at the end of halves.
Less emotionally tinged choices to try at 4th Downs. Campbell often tries to correct the last mistake by rolling even bigger dice, and 23 games has shown that just doesn’t work well for the head coach.
He keeps his players from falling at inopportune times. It’s something Campbell preaches Monday through Saturday but struggles with on Sundays. His Lions haven’t fared as well, with very few exceptions.
Story originally appeared on Lions Wire