Lions have long list of fixes before facing Packers

Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams (30) rushes at San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams (24) in the second half during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

DETROIT — The problem facing Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell isn’t finding things to fix.

It is deciding where to start.

The Lions trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-10 at halftime and 41-17 with two minutes left before a late charge brought them within 41-33.

Campbell said watching the game film didn’t make the game look much better than it had seemed in real time.

“There was nothing that surprised me,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up, but the positive is that we can clean them up. We missed on a lot of little things, and if we do those little things, we’re probably going to win a game.”

What’s working

The running back combination of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift had 93 yards on 20 carries, but also helped when the Lions had to throw the ball after falling so far behind. Swift caught eight passes for 65 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown on a screen pass, while Williams had eight catches for 56 yards.

What needs help

The vertical passing game was almost nonexistent against the 49ers. Until the desperate last few minutes, Jared Goff was checking everything down to the running backs and tight ends. T.J. Hockenson is a big part of the Lions offense, so his eight catches for 97 yards and a score is a positive, but no wide receiver had more than three receptions.

Stock up

Rookie tackle Penei Sewell had to make a late switch from right tackle to left after Taylor Decker sustained a finger injury. That meant making his regular-season debut against 49ers star Nick Bosa, but the 20-year-old held his own.

“He’s going to be good,” Bosa told reporters after the game. “He’s more comfortable on the left. I could tell. The tape I saw on the right was … I told him after the game, he’s better on the left and he’s more comfortable on the left. He’s going to be a solid player, for sure.”

Stock down

Cornerback Jeff Okudah was hoping to bounce back after a rough rookie season in 2020. Instead, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft was beaten badly on a long touchdown pass, then sustained a season-ending Achilles injury.

“I hate it for him and I hate it for the team,” Campbell said. “He was coming around, and now all of his focus has to be on getting ready for 2022.”


Along with Decker and Okudah, the Lions lost wide receiver Tyrell Williams to a late injury. Williams, slotted in as Detroit’s No. 1 receiver, finished with two catches for 7 yards before the injury. He’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.

One game at a time

Campbell laughed when asked if Sewell’s performance could lead to him winning the full-time job at left tackle even when Decker returns from injury.

“I would love to entertain that possibility, but man, we are so far away from that right now. We’re just trying to figure out how to put the best lineup out there for the Packers on Sunday.”

Next steps

Trying to improve the passing offense and defense in time for this weekend’s trip to Green Bay. The Packers will be desperate for a win after an embarrassing 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.


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