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Lions are on the ropes

The National Football League is only in Week 2 of the regular season, and already some teams are on the ropes. One such team is the Detroit Lions, who have fallen to both the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings on the road to begin the campaign. Considering only 12 percent of teams make the postseason after beginning in such a fashion since the current playoff format was adopted, there is reason for ample concern.

Detroit went through a bit of a transformation this offseason. General manager Martin Mayhew allowed defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to leave in free agency. Add that to middle linebacker DeAndre Levy being injured for the first few games with a hip ailment, and the defense has been rancid.

After allowing Philip Rivers to throw for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns en route to erasing an 18-point deficit, the Lions hoped to improve against the Vikings. Instead, Detroit allowed Teddy Bridgewater to complete 14-of-18 throws for 153 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers would not be too bad with a few more incompletions mixed in. Then you realize that the Vikings ran for 199 yards and two scores, and you understand why Minnesota won, 26-16.

At 0-2, the Lions have got to straighten out both the defense and the rushing attack. On Sunday, Detroit rushed for 38 yards on 16 carries, a brutal number by any measure. The leading rusher? Matthew Stafford, with 20 yards. How are the Lions only giving Ameer Abdullah six carries in a game that was mostly close throughout? It is a terrible bit of coaching by offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who is the grandson of coaching legend Vince Lombardi.

There needs to be balance in this offense, and to this point, it has been sorely lacking. Matthew Stafford threw the ball 53 times for only 286 yards, a paltry average of 5.4 yards per attempt. Lombardi’s playcalling is all the more inexplicable when compared to what the San Francisco 49ers did to the Vikings last week. Carlos Hyde ran wild against Minnesota, racking up 168 yards and a pair of scores during San Francisco’s 20-3 victory.

The schedule does not get any easier for the Lions, who now face the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Denver has looked very beatable over the first two games but won them both thanks to a pitiful Ravens’ offense and the Kansas City Chiefs giving up five turnovers. Still, this looks like a bad matchup for the Lions. Detroit has little talent at corner and has not run the ball consistently. Those two things spell massive issues against the Broncos.

All that said, pressure and desperation can do wonders. Detroit must win in Week 3 or face the prospects of a lost campaign. The time is now in the Motor City.

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