FIRST DOWN: JOHNSON & SCARBROUGH
For a second straight week, Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough shared Detroit’s backfield, and for a second straight week, the duo was a nice pairing for the Lions.
Both players averaged better than 4.0 yards per carry last week in Denver, and did so again this week in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Packers.
Johnson rushed 11 times for 53 yards (4.8 average), and Scarbrough carried it nine times for 42 yards (4.7). Rookie Ty Johnson broke off a 40-yard run at the end of the first half and finished with 65 yards on three carries. As a team, Detroit finished with 171 rushing yards on 25 carries (6.8).
All three backs are under contract next season, and the Lions seem to have really found something with Kerryon Johnson and Scarbrough as a top two tandem with different running styles that seem to complement one another.
“I think for us, the run game is going to be a big part of what we do,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. “It’s going to be an important part of what we try to get done as an offense and I’m proud of Kerryon for coming back. I think it shows his competitive nature. I think it shows the type of guy he is, the type of football player he wants to be.
“Certainly, with Bo, and Ty (Johnson), and J.D. (McKissic), and even Wes Hills – I think those guys every single day came in and worked hard to try to get better and compete.”
SECOND DOWN: SNACKS TALKS RETIREMENT
The end of a grueling and disappointing season isn’t usually a good time to make career choices.
An emotional Damon Harrison Sr. contemplated his future after Sunday’s game, and wondered aloud if he’d hang his cleats up for good.
Harrison battled through knee and calf injuries this season. The team usually gave him a veteran day off on Thursdays to keep him available for gamedays. With the pain he’s played through, and his play suffering because of it, Harrison, 31, is giving retirement a thought.
“Four us, my message is always pretty clear to the players,” Patricia said after the game. “I think just take a minute. It’s an emotional game. We just got done playing a really hard game. Emotions are high. They always are after a football game.”
Harrison’s play suffered this year while he was battling through injury. He’s been the best run-stuffing interior defender for more than a half decade as graded by Pro Football Focus. He fell to eighth in run-stuffing percentage this year. After recording 81 tackles in 17 games last season, Harrison had just 48 in 15 games this year. He earned the first negative grade throughout the course of an entire season from PFF for the first time in his career.
The Lions will clear out their lockers in Allen Park Monday. We’ll see if Harrison is available, and what he has to say tomorrow with 24 hours or so to sleep on it.
THIRD DOWN: WINLESS WITHOUT STAFFORD
Jeff Driskel (0-3) and David Blough (0-5) were a combined 0-8 starting in place of the injured Matthew Stafford this season. Stafford was 3-4-1 on the year when he hurt his back Week 9 in Oakland.
Driskel and Blough certainly did some good things over the course of the last two months, but quarterbacks are ultimately evaluated on wins and losses. Just ask Stafford.
“I think coach and Bob (Quinn) know that I’ve given everything I’ve got,” Blough said after completing 12-of-29 passes for 122 yards with no passing touchdowns, one interception, one receiving touchdown and a passer rating of 39.7 Sunday. “That’s just who I am. I’ll do everything I can for them giving me the opportunity. I’m thankful for them for the opportunity.”
The Lions certainly have some decisions to make at the quarterback position behind Stafford going into the offseason.
FOURTH DOWN: INJURIES & IR
When the story of the Lions’ 2019 season is written, it needs to include a lengthy chapter dedicated to injuries. The Lions were devastated by injuries throughout the course of the year.
That’s certainly not an excuse for a 3-12-1 finish, and Patricia will never use it as one. Every team goes through injuries, but it seems the Lions were particularly affected this year.
In all, 16 players ended up on injured reserve, including Stafford and nine other starters. If we add wide receiver Kenny Golladay and linebacker Devon Kennard, both of whom left Sunday’s game and did not return, to the list, that’s 11 starters out.
Blough was throwing to Chris Lacy, Jamal Agnew and Travis Fulgham late in the game Sunday. Austin Bryant, Steve Longa, Jason Cabinda and Jalen Reeves-Maybin were all playing linebacker.
It’s been a tough year for the Lions in the injury department, and they’ll no doubt be looking for better luck there in 2020.