As the Denver Broncos prepare to face off against the Detroit Lions, I chat with Steven Mullenax from SideLion Report and his takes on the opponent.
The Denver Broncos face off against their last NFC opponent of the 2019 season as the Detroit Lions come to town. It will be a rare matchup as both teams have not seen each other since the Broncos won in Motown by a score of 24-12 in the third game of the 2015 season.
That game marked the first win against the Detroit Lions since 2003. Both teams have split the two meetings against each other this decade, with Denver owning a 7-5 all time record against the Lions. Can the Broncos make it two wins in a row going into the new decade?
It could very well happen as the Broncos appear to be favorites going into this game. But no matter what the record, a team must always watch the trap game. And this is Denver's. So, just a fair warning.
With the Broncos facing off against the Lions, I decided to cross into enemy territory and chat with Steven Mullenax, who is the site expert over at SideLion Report, which covers everything Detroit Lions. Let us see what he has to say about the state of the Lions.
TW: The Detroit Lions started the season well but have fallen apart. What do you believe is the biggest reason behind the decline in 2019?
SM: It's been a mix of poor coaching and poor execution. The Lions went 6-10 under head coach Matt Patricia in his first season, but the team showed growth by the end of the year. This past offseason, Detroit added a slew of new players. And getting them up to speed was more difficult than I believe the organization anticipated. The biggest decline has been on the defensive side of the ball, which is supposed to be Patricia's specialty. It's one of the main reasons fans are calling for his job.
TW: Matthew Stafford has been shut down for the season. Do you believe the Lions could use a potential high draft pick on a quarterback in the 2020 draft?
SM: I don't believe so. When Lions' ownership announced earlier this week that they were choosing to retain both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn for another season, it was with the expectation that the team would be a playoff contender in 2020.
It's a clear line in the sand for the current regime in Detroit. And a team hoping for a postseason berth isn't drafting a quarterback to develop behind Matthew Stafford in those top rounds.
This front office and coaching staff must win now in order to keep their jobs. So they'll use those draft picks to address needs that they believe can help them win immediately.
TW: What are you hoping to see out of the Detroit Lions in the final two games of the season?
SM: Player evaluations for 2020. At this point, the Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention for quite some time. A good amount of their starters have landed on Injured Reserve. And winning either of these final two games only potentially hurts the team's draft status next April.
These last two contests should be used as an evaluation of depth players for possible retention in 2020. From that aspect, it could be dangerous for the Broncos. These players will be motivated to shine with their jobs potentially on the line.
TW: The Lions travel to face the Broncos. What do you believe it will take to win the game?
SM: If Detroit can establish a consistent rushing attack and control the time of possession in the game, they have a chance of keeping the score low and within reach. Unfortunately, a consistent running game is not something the Lions have been able to establish all year long and injuries have forced Detroit to start numerous different running backs throughout the season. But if a rusty Kerryon Johnson is able to return from injury and plays well in Denver, he would be the key to getting an unlikely victory.
TW: Is there a player on the Lions roster not a lot know about who could make an impact on Sunday?
SM: Second-year safety Tracy Walker is certainly a name to watch. A third-round selection out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2018, Walker was arguably the Lions most consistent defender as a rookie despite his very limited snaps.
The team parted ways with longtime starter Glover Quin in the offseason, opening the door for Walker in 2019. Now, the 24-year old leads Detroit in total tackles (89) and is quietly becoming one of the best young safeties in the NFL.
Thank You Steven for taking the time out to chat with me. If you want to see Steven's interview with me over at SideLion Report, you can check it out here.