Winless Lions aren't interested in moral victories: 'It's winning and losing'
As the old adage goes, you are what your record says you are. That’s the bottom line.
But after fighting until the final minutes and pushing another opponent to the limit, there’s a common feeling among the Lions, the league’s lone winless team.
“We’re a lot better than our record shows, but ultimately in this league it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I can say it as much as I want, but until we win some games, we can’t really prove it. I do believe we are a lot better than 0-7 and have had some chances to win this year and ultimately haven’t done it.”
Sunday was the latest example. The Lions scored a touchdown in the first half for the first time since Week 2, used some trickeration to build a double-digit lead and entered the fourth quarter against the heavily favored Rams with a two-point edge.
When L.A. went back on top in the final frame, the Lions marched down the field and into the red zone, but couldn’t finish the job. Rams star Aaron Donald broke through and forced a rushed throw from Goff that was picked off by Jalen Ramsey, effectively ending the threat and the game.
While there were positives to glean from the 28-19 loss — like the aggressive trick plays, the offensive line’s performance against Donald much of the day and the fact the offense finally took a snap with the lead this season — moral victories don’t count in the win-loss column.
“You can say (Sunday is a step) in the right direction, but our league is based on results,” Goff said. “They don’t care if you’re getting better or if you’re improving or if you look better one week after another. It’s winning and losing, and we need to do that.”
The Lions have been a bounce, a stop and a throw away from breaking through for their first win of the season. Yet, as the losses continue to pile up, the Lions insist they aren’t getting numb to it.
Rather, coach Dan Campbell said it gives him more motivation to put an end to the frustration that he, his players and the fan base have been experiencing.
“It gives me more driven anger, if you will, to want to make things right and help these guys as much as I can and help this staff,” Campbell said. “That’s the way I’m cut. It makes me want to do dig in more is what it does. So, maybe I’m stubborn that way.
“I told the team this before we ever started the season, but I’m built for adversity. This is what I do. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I’ve done it. I’ve been in the highest highs and I’ve been in the low lows. I’m ready for this and I’m not giving up. I’m not giving up on any of these guys.”
Campbell added that he, his coaching staff and all the players have more to give as they continue to search for a way to win.
And given the progress he’s seen from young guys like linebacker Derrick Barnes, guard Jonah Jackson, cornerback Jerry Jacobs, defensive tackle Alim McNeill, defensive end Levi Onwuzurike and running back D’Andre Swift, Campbell sees signs that one is coming.
“We're making some strides now,” Campbell said, “and they're going to pay massive dividends sooner than later.”
The Lions’ secondary was dealt another blow when rookie AJ Parker, the team’s starting nickel corner, exited Sunday’s contest in the second half with a shoulder injury.
By the sounds of Campbell’s comments, he didn’t seem optimistic about Parker’s status in the near future.
“My gut says he’ll be down for a little while,” Campbell said.
If Parker misses significant time, he’ll be the third cornerback the Lions have lost to injury this season, along with starter Jeff Okudah and his replacement, rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu.
Daryl Worley replaced Parker against the Rams and had a rough time in pass coverage. If the Lions need a new starting option in the slot next week, one possible replacement is nickel corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is on the practice squad.
On the final drive of the first half, the Lions were hit with a delay-of-game penalty after Goff had spiked the ball to stop the clock.
According to Campbell, there was a headset issue and Goff wasn’t able to receive the play that was being called.
“He can’t hear it, it’s not coming in, so something was going on with that play because I know he couldn’t hear the play from (offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn) and neither could (David) Blough,” Campbell said. “It’s one of those things. It happened to us. It stinks.”
Campbell noted headset problems probably happen a couple of times a game and he experienced similar issues when he was with New Orleans, so it’s “not anything totally abnormal.”
… The Lions placed reserve guard Logan Stenberg on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. The 2020 fourth-round pick will miss at least the next three weeks and will be eligible to return to the active roster in Week 11.