Not much has changed since the last time the Minnesota Vikings clashed with the Detroit Lions almost two months ago. The Lions are still winless, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what the Vikings are. Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to do another round of Q&A with us as we approach the rematch in Detroit.
1. Since these two teams last met in Week 5, the Lions haven’t lost every game, but they haven’t won any either. They were never going to be contenders this year, but are fans starting to dread becoming the first repeat winless team in NFL history? Is Dan Campbell’s approval rating starting to dwindle, or are folks still trusting the process?
It’s a bit of a mix. There are some fans, mostly casual ones who, for some reason, expected this team to be good that are upset. But, for the most part, Lions fans are taking this really well. Obviously a win would be nice, but I don’t think Lions fans are really all that upset about another winless season. I think it’s because the previous winless season was the end of a really bad era. This time it’s clearly the beginning of something. We’ll see what that something is sooner rather than later. Dan Campbell is still very well liked in Detroit. A year like this can’t be repeated though.
2. It looks like D’Andre Swift, who scored Detroit’s lone touchdown in the first meeting, will likely miss Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. Will the Lions offense need to make many adjustments with Jamaal Williams as the lead back? Or is it more like the Vikings relying on Alexander Mattison as “Dalvin Cook Lite”—a similar player without quite as much explosiveness?
Jamaal Williams is not as shifty as D’Andre Swift and there is definitely a drop off, but it’s not that steep. Williams is a great running back in between the tackles. He’s pretty good at finding the hole and has good acceleration. The Lions also have Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike. Both guys are good for a “where the hell did this guy come from?” play a game most times. Make no mistake though, losing Swift is a big blow to this offense.
3. Bright spots are hard to come by when your team is 0-10-1, but I’m assuming that there have been a few this season. (Maybe?) Can you give us a player or two that has given you at least a glimmer of hope for the future, especially if those players have taken on a bigger role since the Vikings last saw them?
The drafted rookies are all playing pretty well and there’s a lot to be optimistic about with this group. But it’s the undrafted rookies that are bringing a grin to Lions fans’ faces. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs has been a standout. This is a guy that was never supposed to make the team in camp. He wasn’t supposed to get much playing time after he made the active roster. Now he’s the Lions’ best corner. He has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. It’s been fun to watch. He’ll have a real challenge on Sunday with Thielen and Jefferson, but don’t be surprised to hear his name called a time or two for a pass break up. From a sports fan point of view, this is the kind of story you love to see.
4. The Jared Goff Experiment obviously hasn’t gone well, The Lions need a new quarterback next season, but the 2022 crop of draft candidates doesn’t look all that promising. I’m sure that POD has already had a ton of draft talk this year. If Detroit maintains their stranglehold on the first overall pick, who’s the consensus pick among Lions fans? (It’s gotta be Michigan’s own Aidan Hutchinson, right?)
It’s split down the middle right now. Aidan Hutchinson skyrocketed into consideration after a tremendous game against Ohio State and while I think he will be a great player, I’m still kind of leaning in the direction of Kayvon Thibodeax from Oregon. I don’t think the Lions could miss either way. It’s a good problem to have. should be interesting to see where things go from here.
5. The Lions are coming off some extra rest, the Vikings defense could pretty depleted, and they’re playing in the friendly confines of Ford Field. The first game was a nail-biter. Is this the week the Lions finally add a tally to the win column, or does the winless streak continue to 16 games?
Probably. The only reason I say that is because I will be unable to cover this weekend’s game. So of course I’ll miss the only win of the year.
In all seriousness, the Lions are the youngest and most banged up team in the league. I don’t expect the Vikings injury issues to make much of a difference at all. I think the Vikings will win this game and it might be a little easier than it was last time. Even if the Lions refuse to quit.
Once again, we thank Mike for his information from across enemy lines. Stay tuned for more leading up to Sunday’s game.