Getting off to a strong start is something every football coach from the beginning of the sport has preached. Detroit’s Dan Campbell is no exception.
But how are his Lions faring at the start of games?
Poring over the data and game notes, I went back and looked at the opening drive for both the Lions offense and defense in each of the first 15 games of the 2022 season.
Thus far, the Lions defense has been better than the offense to open games. The offense has scored on six opening drives this year. Detroit’ defense has allowed points on just four opposing opening drives.
Here’s how those units got to those figures with two games left on the schedule.
Offense: Detroit capped a 9-play, 75-yard drive with a Jamaal Williams TD plunge. The Lions got the ball first in this game.
Defense: The Eagles drove 40 yards in nine plays but failed on a fourth-down conversion from the Lions 40-yard line thank to three straight incompletions, two thrown at CB Jeff Okudah.
Offense: 3-and-out. QB Jared Goff got sacked on 3rd-and-12 after a Penei Sewell false start. The Lions got the ball first.
Defense: 3-and-out. Aidan Hutchinson sacked Carson Wentz on 3rd-and-4.
Offense: The Lions drove 50 yards in seven plays but came up empty when then-kicker Austin Seibert clanked a 48-yard FG attempt off the right upright. The Lions got the ball first.
Defense: Minnesota answered by missing a field goal of its own. A seven-play, 24-yard drive ended with Greg Joseph being wide right from 56.
Offense: An ugly 3-and-out with two passes to Kalif Raymond and a 5-yard run by Jamaal Williams. On the bright side, the Seahawks fumbled the ensuing punt and Lions long snapper Scott Daly recovered, setting up a touchdown.
Defense: The Seahawks drove 80 yards in 11 plays, scoring a touchdown when QB Geno Smith found TE Will Dissly in the end zone from 17 yards out. The Seahawks got the ball first, the first time Detroit did not open on offense.
Offense: Detroit moved the ball 20 yards in seven plays, with the opening drive ending when Jamaal Williams was stuffed in the backfield on 4th-and-1 at the Lions’ 45-yard line. The Lions had the ball first.
Defense: The Patriots capitalized on the short field, going 26 yards in six plays and cashing in with a 37-yard field goal.
Week 7 (Lions had a bye in Week 6)
Offense: The Lions gained 14 yards in four plays, punting from the Dallas 47-yard line.
Defense: Dallas went 3-and-out quickly, capped by a sack of Dak Prescott from Hutchinson and LB Alex Anzalone. The Cowboys had the ball first.
Offense: Detroit cashed in a 5-play, 60-yard drive with a Williams 7-yard TD run up the gut. The drive was aided by a taunting penalty against the Dolphins on the very first play from scrimmage. The Lions had the ball first.
Defense: The Dolphins put together an adventurous 8-play, 60-yard drive that featured six completed passes. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph ended the threat with a forced fumble, recovered by fellow rookie LB Malcolm Rodriguez, who also had a sack on the drive.
Offense: Detroit drove 55 yards in nine plays but came up empty when Goff’s pass on 4th-and-1 from the Green Bay 7-yard line was swatted away by Packers EDGE Rashan Gary. The Lions had the ball first.
Defense: The Lions answered with a red zone stop of their own. Green Bay traversed 88 yards on 13 plays. On 1st-and-goal from the Detroit 5, Kerby Joseph picked off Aaron Rodgers with an assist from LB Derrick Barnes.
Offense: The Lions offense moved 68 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 25-yard field goal from Michael Badgley in Chicago.
Defense: The Bears opened with an 8-play, 60-yard drive that stalled out in the red zone thanks to a holding penalty on 2nd-and-goal. Cairo Santos booted a 33-yard field goal. The Bears had the ball first.
Offense: The Lions had a successful 11-play drive covering 49 yards. Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Giants on what would have been a failed 3rd-down pass, the Lions scored when Badgley hit a 24-yard field goal. The Lions had the ball first.
Defense: The Giants drive ended quickly. Detroit forced a 3-and-out and punt thanks to an Alim McNeill sack on third down.
The team combined to gain three yards on their opening drives. The Lions had the ball first.
Offense: Detroit took advantage of a short field and scored on a 1-yard Williams run. That capped a 7-play, 38-yard opening drive.
Defense: We have a takeaway! Safety DeShon Elliott physically separated the ball from Jaguars RB Travis Etienne. Anzalone recovered on Jacksonville’s second play of the game. The Jaguars had the ball first.
Offense: A meek 3-and-out opening drive for the Lions featuring two incomplete passes. Detroit had the ball first.
Defense: The Vikings stalled after six plays and 25 yards. CB Jeff Okudah stuffed RB Dalvin Cook on 4th-and-short at the Minnesota 46-yard line.
Offense: A 14-play, 73-yard drive chewed up over half the first quarter, but the Lions fizzled on 4th-and-goal from the Jets 1-yard line. The Lions had the ball first.
Defense: New York lost one yard on three plays before punting from inside its own 1-yard line. Kalif Raymond returned the punt for a Lions touchdown.
Offense: The Lions drove 60 yards in eight plays and got on the board when Goff found TE Shane Zylstra from three yards out for the touchdown.
Defense: Carolina ran at will, gaining 83 yards on five plays–all runs. RB Raheem Blackshear scored untouched from seven yards out to give the Panthers the lead. Carolina had the ball first.