In Dan Campbell's two seasons as head coach, the Detroit Lion have started 0-10-1 and 1-6 respectively. A 2-14 mark from Weeks 1-9 over the last two seasons is the worst mark in the NFL over those weeks over those seasons. Winning just one of their three losses by four points or less during last season's 1-6 start would have gotten them to 10 wins and into the playoffs.
"Yeah, you go back and forth and that’s something that I’m always thinking about is, how do we do this?” “Is there a different approach? Were we too light? Were we too hard? Do we need to have more volume? Do we need to have more intensity?"
" I think some of it is just that, tinkering with, do we need to do a little bit more maybe early situational work in practice?....Those are little things that I’m thinking about, is how do we get off to a fast start in a game and in a season?”""
Detroit Lions know they have to find a way to start this season faster
It's hard to call it pressure, per se, but Lions players know they have to start this season faster and ESPN's Eric Woodyard surveyed that sentiment earlier this week.
DT Alim McNeill:
"Since the day we started this new season, from the first day of OTAs, everything has been about starting fast because we have to start the season off better,” McNeill said. “Obviously, we’re worried about K.C., but yeah, we have to start the season off better.”"
Quarterback Jared Goff has been the symbol of the Lions' slow starts and subsequent turnarounds late in the last two seasons. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Goff is third in total QBR from Weeks 10-18 over the last two seasons, while leading the NFL in QBR (99.2) on passes of 20-plus yards downfield and after play-action (84.7), with a league-high 17-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on such throws. In Weeks 1-9, his Total QBR was 43.1 and his overall touchdown-to-interception ratio was 22-to-13.
Goff seems to know he is a key to the Lions having a better start this year.
"I think you’re always urgent every year. I think the last two years we haven’t started quick, so maybe there’s a little bit of an increased awareness of it,” Goff said. “Yeah, sure, I think making sure that we don’t dig ourselves in a hole, but at the same time, we’re trying to win every game. But yeah, we’re aware of it, but it’s one game at a time and the first one is the Chiefs and try to go out there and win that one.”"
Campbell scheduled not one but two joint practice sessions this preseason, following through on how much he says he values them, to allow his team to practice situations in a controlled setting. He feels that was a valuable change to the preparation for this season.
"I think we’ve done a lot more situational work, which these early games -- I believe you’ve heard me say this -- but it’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes not the most plays that wins, and I think that will go a long way,” Campbell said. “And certainly, your conditioning. I don’t think anybody will be in better condition than we will [be] going into Game 1."
Some people have predicted the Lions to start this season 0-2, but still finish with a nice record. If that does happen, preventing a snowball into another really dismal start will of course be critical--but the schedule looks like it will allow for a rally if 0-2 does happen.