Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Lions’ Defense is its Strongest Unit
Stafford. Tate. Johnson. Bush. Bell. Weapons all over the offense.
And yet a week after the Lions offense was held to 7 points, they were barely able to outscore their own defense.
It seems obvious that the Packers offense isn’t quite what it once was, but shutting them down doesn’t just happen on accident. Even the Seahawks gave up 16 points to Aaron Rodgers and company.
The Lions defense is now allowing an average of 15 points per game, and that’s despite a legion of injured players coming off the field every game. That’s why the Lions are 1-1 in their last two despite the offense only generating 17 points in those two games combined.
Darius Slay is not a Fluke
It’s too soon to put him in elite company, but Darius Slay has now put together three of the best games of his career. Back-to-back. To start the season. This is what we call “trending up.” Unlike his first two games, Slay’s name wasn’t often called in this game.
No major breakups, no interceptions. But Jordy Nelson also had his worst game of the season (5 receptions, 59 yards), including the season opener against Seattle and Richard Sherman (9 receptions, 83 yards).
Of course, Slay wasn’t covering Nelson all over the field, just as Sherman wasn’t shadowing Nelson. And Rodgers had a bad day overall, so really the entire secondary, injuries and all, deserves credit for this victory. But Slay has been playing at this level all season, so he deserves special recognition.
Nate Freese’s Time is Up
Jason Hanson started his career as a going 3-for-6 on field goals. Nate Freese is now 3-for-7, and hasn’t hit a kick from further out than 30 yards. The cries to replace Freese are about to reach a fever pitch, and they’re all justified.
Freese has missed field goals, with consistency, that a majority of NFL kickers – even the ones on free agency – are expected to make.
Is this the week Freese gets cut? It’s a strong possibility, but not a certainty. Since the Lions are invested in the rookie, his leash is longer than it probably should be. Still, he can’t be safe continuing to perform the way he has, and Jim Caldwell’s halftime comments seem to support this.
The question is, how much longer can the Lions afford to wait Freese out, all the while taking the risk of not getting points on 35-yard field goals?
And speaking of questions, here are things we still don’t know.