'It was crazy': Rams-Chiefs fireworks leave Lions defenders awestruck
Allen Park — As the Detroit Lions prepare for a Thanksgiving tilt with the Chicago Bears, the talk of the NFL is Monday night's instant classic between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas Chiefs, which marked the first time in league history two teams each scored 50 points in a game.
It was the pinnacle of the league's offensive explosion. A decade ago, just one team averaged more than 28 points. This year, there are seven at or above that mark.
And while teams like the Rams, Chiefs and New Orleans Saints are abusing opposing defenses week in and week out, even the defensive players in Detroit's locker room couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement from Monday's shootout.
"It was a crazy game, man," defensive back Quandre Diggs said. "Those guys can definitely put up points and you know that. It reminds me a little of the Big 12. That's what I saw every week. ...It's fun to watch games like that."
Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois also appreciated watching the Los Angeles Coliseum scoreboard getting the workout of a lifetime.
"It was an exciting game," he said. "This is the NFL, it's what the NFL wants; more points, more scoring."
Jean Francois is not wrong. The game exceeded all the hype surrounding it and drew the highest ratings for Monday Night Football in four years.
But ask a Lions defender, and we talked with a half-dozen on and off the record, for the answer to stopping these high-octane offenses dominating the league this year and you get a lot of blank stares.
Offensive and defensive schemes are a series of innovations and adaptations, formulated out of necessity to respond to one other. Inevitably, a bright defensive mind is going to come along with a new way to stymie these modern-day juggernauts and the style will be copied and modified by most, if not all, NFL teams. That's how these things tend to work.
But with the way the league has altered the rules in recent years — namely making it illegal for a defender to touch a receiver five yards beyond the line of scrimmage — to enhance offense and handicap defenses, Jean Francois seems ready to tap out on the idea that his side of the ball will be able to catch up anytime soon.
"I think they're not going to counter it because this is what they want," he said. "The way that game was played last night, that's what the NFL wants. They don't want it any other way. I get the business side of it. It sells more tickets, brings in more fans, but as a defensive guy, I can't be with it. I can't imagine giving up 50 points and feeling good about a win."
This week, the Lions' attention is understandably focused squarely on the Bears. But once that game is in the book, coach Matt Patricia will be tasked with coming up with a plan to slow the Rams, who come to town Dec. 2.
"I just really want to make sure I’m focused on Chicago here right now," Patricia said. "But when you see scores like that, certainly as a defensive coach, you’re not real happy. So, we’ll see what that looks like next week."
The Rams are on bye this week, so what you've seen is what the Lions are going to get — a team somehow on pace to both score more points than all but two teams in league history, yet also scoring fewer than two teams this year.
Godspeed, NFL defensive coaches and players. You're going to need it.