First-half observations: With season all but over, Lions try Kerryon and some tricks

Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions had a dominant few minutes of football at the onset of Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving game against the Houston Texans.

Alas, reality set in.

After a series of turnovers on both sides, the Lions head to halftime trailing 23-14 in an ugly one at Ford Field.

Here are the observations:

Coaching staff on the brink gets wild

A reverse flea flicker on the first drive. Lots more blitzing that we’re used to. Kerryon Johnson!

We’re seeing some new things from Matt Patricia and his coaching staff so far Thursday.

Obviously it’s too little, too late, and somewhat infuriatingly so.

The Lions failed at playing fundamental football during Patricia’s tenure, so you might’ve expected the coaching staff to impose their will with some calculated risk.

That never happened either, but at least we’re seeing some now.

This game has been ugly, but at least entertaining.

Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson tries to get past Houston Texans safety Justin Reid.

Johnson re-asserting himself on depth chart

Kerryon came off the milk carton for a nice first half on national TV.

Johnson has eight carries for 32 yards and four catches for 52 yards. The 12 touches are already a season-high by four.

With D’Andre Swift out, Johnson is the best option for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in the backfield.

Though he has two touchdowns, Adrian Peterson is averaging less than a yard per carry.


Johnson has a fumble, so it’s not been a perfect half, but who hasn’t? The Lions turned the ball over three times on eight offensive snaps at one point.

All this against the Texans, who came in with five takeaways this season, barely half of the teams tied for the second-worst amount.

Let’s move on.

Injuries piling up, opportunity knocks?

Danny Shelton is out with an injury, Desmond Trufant went down again.

Tracy Walker was playing some cornerback to close the half with Trufant out.

Is that a future role for him?

Lions Twitter is miffed about Walker’s lack of chances at safety this year.

The Lions started with three safeties, but it was Will Harris as No. 3, joining Duron Harmon and Jayron Kearse.

Maybe Walker can make some plays in the second half and the rest of the season, solidifying his future in Detroit.

Matt Schoch is a writer for and freelances for The Detroit News.