Mon, 20 Sep 2021

TWENTYMAN: Week 1 observations

Detroit Lions
14 Sep 2021, 20:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

NFC North woes: There's good and bad news for the Detroit Lions following Sunday. The bad news is obviously that they've started the Dan Campbell era off 0-1 after a 41-33 loss to the 49ers in their opener. The good news is that Detroit's still ties for first place in the NFC North despite the loss, thanks to every team in the division losing their opener.

Minnesota was beat by Cincinnati in overtime, Green Bay was blown out by New Orleans, and Matthew Stafford and the Rams did the Lions a solid by beating the Bears on Sunday night. The goal in Detroit this year has always been to compete for the NFC North title. Despite the loss, they still find themselves on an even keel in the division.

Missing Decker: Veteran left tackle Taylor Decker was placed on injured reserve Saturday forcing Penei Sewell to move from right tackle to left tackle and Matt Nelson to start at right tackle. Sewell played pretty well on the left side for a youngster, but Decker's absence was felt, as evidenced by one late second-quarter possession.

The first-down play was a bad first step by Sewell leading to a tackle for loss of four yards by 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa. Nelson was beat wide for a sack on second down by Dee Ford. Nelson was then called for a holding penalty on third down that helped preserve a timeout for the 49ers that they used for their ensuing possession that led to a last-second field goal before the half.

NOTEBOOK: Okudah leaves game with possible Achilles injury FOUR DOWNS: Sewell solid in debut at left tackle RECAP: Lions vs. 49ers

Goff to Hock: I predicted before the season began there was a good chance third-year tight end T.J. Hockenson would lead the Lions in targets, receptions and touchdowns in 2021. After one week, I still feel pretty good about the prediction. Hockenson was second in targets Sunday (10), tied for the team lead with eight receptions, led the team with 97 receiving yards, and tied for the lead with one touchdown catch.

WR production: Hockenson and running backs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams had eight receptions apiece vs. San Francisco. With one catch for tight end Darren Fells, Detroit's tight ends and running backs accounted for 25 receptions. That left just 13 for the receivers. Part of that was what the defense was giving them, but there were a lot of question marks surrounding that receiver group heading into the season and some of those questions still linger after Week 1.

100 & 100: It was a nice debut for Swift and Williams as a duo in Detroit's backfield. Williams notched 110 total scrimmage yards and a touchdown Sunday. Swift had 104 total yards and a score.

Third and Fourth down: One area where the Lions have to be much more efficient moving forward is on third and fourth downs. The offense was just 4-of-15 on third down (26.7 percent) and 2-of-5 on fourth down (40 percent).

Down the field: There was a lack of big plays down the field in the passing game for the Lions' offense vs. San Francisco. Quarterback Jared Goff's longest reception goes in the books as a 43-yard pass to Swift, but it was on a screen. Goff only completed one other pass of 20-plus yards in the game, which was to Hockenson. After the game, head coach Dan Campbell emphasized needing to find more explosive plays in the passing game moving forward.

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