It’s week 10 of the NFL season and the 2-6 Washington Football Team will be facing a 3-5 Lions team on the road at Ford Field in Detroit. Although the Lions have a better record than Washington, they arguably have less to play for since they are currently last in their division and are well behind their division-leading 6-2 Green Bay Packers. At the same time, the Lions have a coaching staff that is likely coaching for their jobs after 3 years of poor performance.
Normally, I would turn to Pride of Detroit’s Mike Payton for this 5Qs. However, for the second week in a row, the other site’s writer didn’t respond to my emails. I suspect the poor performance and outlook of the teams we’ve been facing has left their writers less engaged than normal, which is the reason for the lack of response. At any rate, I’ve tried to make up for it this week by answering questions myself after scouring various resources giving Lions fan responses (with links to supporting articles). I’ve done my best answering these questions objectively and with supporting reasons, but I encourage any Lions fans who read this to weigh in with their points of view (and please call me out if you think I got anything very wrong).
1) What is the Lions injury situation heading into week 10?
The most notable injury is to Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who has already been declared out for this game. Golladay has been a focal point of the passing game and the only consistent WR on the team, so this is a major blow.
The Lions second biggest receiving option TE TJ Hockenson is uncertain to play as well. Hockenson returned to practice after missing Thursday’s session with a toe injury, but is officially listed as questionable. Hockenson has yet to miss a game this season, but he’s been dealing with a toe injury for the last week. He currently leads the Lions with 34 receptions in eight games.
It’s maybe worth mentioning that Lions fans don’t seem to have much respect for Washington LT Cornelius Lucas, who previously played for the Lions. They seem to think Geron Christian being listed as questionable is a big deal because they’ll be able to exploit Lucas on our side. Do you agree?
2) What’s the sentiment regarding HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn? Will they get another year and should they?
Matt Patricia has been an unmitigated disaster as a head coach. His first year in Detroit in 2018, he alienated most of the team with his attempt to import the “Patriots’ Way” philosophy as a head coach. Unfortunately, his version of the Patriots’ Way involved wearing players down to nubs both physically and mentally. Patricia installed an artificial hill at the Lions training facility just for conditioning and expected players to practice longer and condition longer after practice. Patricia was also notorious for not giving veterans “rest days” as is standard on most teams. Rather than helping players with endurance, players described the conditioning expectations as wearing them out before the games even began. Even worse, Patricia called out players in team meetings for not adhering to a strict low-profile presence on social media and not treating opposing players seriously as enemies. Most notoriously, Patricia called out star CB Darius Slay for taking a photo with an opposing WR, telling Slay to “stop sucking this man’s dick” in front of the entire team, which poisoned the team’s relationship with Slay and eventually lead to Slay being traded. Patricia softened his stance a bit in subsequent years, but never figured out how to balance being respectful to players while also demanding their respect. His coaching as a whole leaves much to be desired, with numerous gaffes like only leaving 10 men on the field to allow big plays in major coaching blunders that appear week after week.
Bob Quinn is less overtly hated by Lions fans, but should also be fired after 3 years of poor results. The Lions were 9-7 in 2017, the year before Quinn and Patricia (or Quinntricia as some fans call them) were hired. The team has failed to top 6 wins since then, with 3 wins last year and only 3 wins so far this year. Quinn has hit on a few early picks (Decker, Ragnow), but has whiffed on even more that have badly hurt the team (Davis, Tabor, Tavai, Harris, Johnson). His stubbornness in sticking with Ameer Abdullah at RB led to a terrible offense and a massive overcorrection later whereby he used premium assets to try to rectify his mistakes (Kerryon, Swift). His lack of ability to identify and obtain talented linebackers in favor of awful ones (Davis, Tavai, JRM) and his complete neglect of the defensive line (only notable picks being Robinson, Okwara, and Bryant) have combined to give the Lions one of the worst front 7s in the entire NFL. Further negligence of the WR corps (only notable picks being Golladay, Fulgham, and Cephus, all late round picks) has put the Lions in a bad situation there too moving forward.
3) Washington cut Adrian Peterson during training camp, and he has since signed with the Lions. How has he looked and what has he meant to the Lions team?
Adrian Peterson has been an important, respected veteran voice on a team that has lacked many others. He is certainly the only 1st Ballot Hall of Famer on the team and has been a bargain for the relatively inexpensive contract he signed. However, his performance has been a bit lackluster. He had a great week 1 debut, with 93 yards rushing and 21 yards receiving. But his production has slipped every week since then, with only 12 all-purpose yards in week 8 against the Colts. He has played about one-third of offensive snaps in most games this season and doesn’t seem to be thriving in such a rotational role. As his snaps have gone down, so has his production. He seems best suited to a feature, workhorse role, but that isn’t the role the team needs right now with recent draft picks Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift competing for playing time in the backfield as well.
4) Who are 3 Lions players we should be paying attention to in this game that we may not know about?
There are 3 players particularly worth talking about. Lions punter Jack Fox leads the NFL in punting average, both net and overall. He has been the best player on the team by far and is the only Lions player to make PFF’s midseason 1st Team All Pro Team. “The gap between Fox and the rest of the NFL field has closed over the past month, but he remains the only punter in the league with a PFF grade above 90.0 thanks to the combination of hang time, direction and distance on his punts,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote.
The other two players worth mentioning are third-year center Frank Ragnow on offense and veteran safety Duron Harmon on defense. Ragnow currently has the second-highest PFF grade amongst NFL centers (78.0) behind only Green Bay’s Corey Linsley, who took up PFF’s first-team All Pro spot. Ragnow has not only excelled as a run blocker and shown improvements in the passing game, but he’s also been extremely reliable—playing every single snap so far this season. Duron Harmon has four passes defended and two interceptions and a PFF grade of 77.0, which is currently fourth among all NFL safeties.
A shoutout should go to Lions LT Taylor Decker, who has played like one of the better LTs in the NFL this year. His matchup on Washington DE Chase Young will be interesting to watch.
5) What are some matchups to exploit against the Lions?
Based on stats so far this year, there are a few matchups Washington fans should feel good about in this game. Although LT Taylor Decker has been playing well, whoever has been playing RT opposite him has been playing the opposite of well. Expect Montez Sweat to have a good game if he’s matched up on the right side.
While Detroit has stiffened up lately against the run (last week notwithstanding), their pass defense has looked absolutely atrocious. Every good quarterback has done just fine against Detroit’s defense and even a couple of bad ones have, too. Over the past two weeks, the Lions have been absolutely torched by running backs in the passing game. Expect JD McKissic and Antonio Gibson to do very well in the passing game, especially if a checkdown-happy Alex Smith decides to give them lots of opportunities.
As of right now, Vegas has Detroit as 3 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Detroit wins by more than 3 points
Detroit wins by 3 or fewer points
Washington wins outright
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 45.5 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
46 or more total points are scored (both sides combined)
Fewer than 46 total points are scored (both sides combined)
Would you consider trading for Matt Stafford if the Lions were willing to trade him?
This poll is closed
Yes, I’d be willing to trade a 2021 1st round pick for him if that’s what it took
Yes, but I wouldn’t be willing to trade more than a 2021 2nd round pick for him
No, I’d rather keep the draft capital and find our QB in the draft
No, this team needs a lot more than a QB and should target 2022 as the year to get our guy
No, Matthew Stafford just isn’t that good