Well, it appears the 3-1 Detroit Lions are, in fact, brand new, rebuilt, reinvigorated, and ready to chew off kneecaps in the 2023 season. Detroit, once again, put the world on notice for the second time this season on TNF with a promising win over the Jordan Love era 2-2 Green Bay Packers. As Matt LeFleur mentioned in his post-game interview, "You saw it Pete, we got our asses kicked, if I knew it wouldn't have happened" after the reporter asked him what happened in the first half after trailing 27-3.
The game didn't start very promising for the Lions, as Jared Goff threw an interception to Rudy Ford at his own 37-yard line three plays in. Unfortunately, LaFleur neglected to hand it off to Aaron Jones, his best offensive weapon, inside the red zone where he thrives. Jones would end the game with just five carries for 18 yards after coming off a hamstring injury, which was quite the sore spot. Love threw an incompletion, and was then sacked by generational second-year edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, in what was a tone-setter. That play-calling ultimately led to Green Bay squandering good field position and taking only three.
Green Bay settled for a 34-yard FG from standout rookie kicker Anders Carlson, who's perfect on the year. That would sum up Green Bay’s lackluster offensive performance in the first half, totaling 21 yards to the Lions' 284 yards. Love went 1/7 for 9 yards passing in the first half but would go on a 22-29 run in the second half for 237 yards. Love ended with 23-36 for 246 yards, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD, and 2 picks.
The fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Packers was dismantled as the Lions' offense went on a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. It was just too much to overcome at that stage in the game. After Quay Walker's costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, things were all but over, but this loss wasn't solely on Walker, and everyone should realize that. The Packers are young, inexperienced, and, unfortunately, it shows.
When you have such a young team, there will be struggles, which was more than proven on TNF. In a highly anticipated divisional rivalry game between Green Bay and Detroit, Green Bay’s offensive line was atrocious in the first half and not much better in the second half. Allowing 22 pressures and five sacks on the night is no easy task for any QB to overcome. Jordan Love was under pressure on 47% of dropbacks in career start No. 5, the most allowed since Week 12 of the 2021 season by Green Bay's offensive front. They're also missing key players on the offensive line, like All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari and Pro Bowler LG Eglton Jenkins. It's now doubtful for Bakhtiari to return this year, but the Packers still have high hopes in Elton Jenkins returning sooner rather than later. Once this offensive line gets healthier, and the skill position players start running the correct routes and not missing hand signals, the Packers' offense could be legit in short order.
The potential is there, along with the cap space available after the 2023 season. LaFleur said, "It makes no sense to do the same thing over and over with the run defense and expect different results." That's the literally textbook definition of insanity, so we'll see how crazy the Packers coaching staff really is.
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