GREEN BAY, Wis. – With the Green Bay Packers hosting the Detroit Lions on Monday night, let’s go behind enemy lines with John Maakaron of SI.com’s All Lions.
1. Jamaal Williams was beloved around here for his performance, energy and attitude. What’s his role going to be for the Lions? Seemed like a timeshare with D’Andre Swift in Week 1 but that’s the 500-miles-a-way vantage point.
You are accurate in your assessment. D’Andre Swift played nearly 70% of the snaps on offense, while Williams played 35% of offensive snaps. Head coach Dan Campbell has praised Williams for being the player everybody thought he was when the decision was made to sign him.
“He’s exactly what I thought he would be and the vision of what he would be,” Campbell said. “And there’s true value in that because he was as steady and reliable as a guy you can have. He looked exactly like he did in camp. He ran hard, he was high-energy, he played smart, and he helped move the football for us.”
Williams is an underrated blocker and will need to continue to be an option for quarterback Jared Goff in the passing game. While this is D’Andre Swift’s backfield, Williams has earned an increase in snap counts and will likely be used more on Monday night.
2. Do the Lions have any good receivers? To exaggerate, every one of Jared Goff’s completions seemed to go to tight ends or running backs.
Well, Bill, if you can run 15 yards downfield and get open, the Lions will call you. The Lions clearly have one of the worst receiving corps in the entire league.
In the opener, they were not all that successful taking deep shots and did not even attempt the deep pass too often. But that really was to be expected with this offense.
Goff is not willing to pass into tight windows, and his favorite target is tight end T.J. Hockenson. This week, the Lions could even be without veteran Tyrell Williams, who is in the concussion protocol.
I expect to attempt more deep passes, but without that much success.
3. It’s really early, I get it, but is Goff the franchise quarterback? And, a quick and semi-related follow-up, knowing what you know about Matthew Stafford: Is he the right guy to get the Rams a championship or is there some sort of fatal flaw that the Lions saw in making that trade?
Nobody in town believes Goff is the future of the organization. He is widely viewed as a bridge quarterback keeping the seat warm until general manager Brad Holmes drafts the quarterback of the future.
Goff was a throw-in when the Rams agreed to a spectacular deal to acquire Stafford that included two first-round draft picks for a retooling Lions team.
As for Stafford, like everybody else, I was impressed with the Rams’ offense in their season-opening win. My opinion is that he is an upgrade over Goff but is not in that “elite” class of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Stafford is good enough to get the Rams to the playoffs, but until I see him step up his game when the lights are the brightest, I am skeptical he can win a Lombardi Trophy with the Rams.
4. It’s really early, I get it, Part 2: New coach Dan Campbell is a quote machine. He seems like the kind of guy you’d love to go to the bar with and listen to him tell stories for hours on end. But can he coach? Is he the guy to finally get the Lions back to respectability and beyond?
Yes, Campbell can coach, and at a high level. He has been around some quality coaches in Bill Parcells and Sean Payton. In the opener, he showed he wants his team to be aggressive on both sides of the ball, which was a stark contrast from previous coaches.
Unfortunately, he simply does not have the pieces in place to win a lot of games in 2021. Recall, he signed a six-year contract, so he and the front office are well aware this rebuild is going to take time.
This season will be about developing young talent, so we are all curious to see how this team performs 10 weeks from now. In the opener, the team did not quit and started to get things rolling after the 49ers took their foot off the gas. While there are no moral victories, the team showed passion and fight for all 60 minutes, which was a contrast to the previous regime.