Allen Park, Mich. — Fans are no longer allowed in the Detroit Lions’ practice facility, but the sound of the roaring crowd continues to echo throughout.
This week, in anticipation of their Thursday night game against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (8:20 ET on NBC), the Lions blasted artificial crowd noise during practice to prepare the team for the hostile road environment they will face. at Arrowhead Stadium.
“They do a good job,” said the Lions Pro Bowl offensive tackle Penny Sewell. “I think the speakers probably blew by the end of the week, but it will get us ready and we’re going to be right for Thursday.”
One of the Lions’ top goals this offseason is to get right for the start of the season. Detroit posted an NFL-worst 2-14 record through Weeks 1-9 in 2021 and 2022 combined. And with higher expectations for the team than ever before, they know they can’t afford to get off to another slow start in 2023.
“The emphasis in this whole thing was on the training camp; said the Lions defensive lineman Aleem McNeil. “We have to start very quickly.”
“From the day we started this new season, from the first day of OTAs, everything has been about starting fast because we have to start the season better,” McNeil said. “Obviously, we’re worried about Casey, but yeah, we have to start the season better.”
The Lions started the 2021 season 0-8 on their way to finishing 3-13-1. In 2022, they started off 2-6 before finishing the campaign with their first winning record (9-8) since 2017.
One reason for their late turnaround in each of coach Dan Campbell’s two years has been improved quarterback play.
At that interval, 10-18 weeks Jared Goff Was third in total QBR, led NFL in QBR on passes 20-plus yards downfield (99.2) and had a league-high 17-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on such throws (84.7) per ESPN Statistics and information. In Weeks 1-9, his total QBR was 43.1 and his overall TD-to-INT ratio was 22-to-13.
“I think you are always important every year. I think the last two years we haven’t started fast, so maybe a little bit of awareness has grown,” Goff said. “Yeah, definitely, I think we’ve made sure we don’t dig ourselves into a hole, but at the same time, we want to win every game. Trying. But yeah, we’re aware of it, but it’s one game at a time and the first one is the Chiefs and try to go out there and win that one.”
To speed up preseason preparation, Campbell scheduled a pair of joint practices against the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars this summer, allowing the team to work on more specific in-game situations against live opponents during preseason games.
“I think we’ve done a lot of situational work, which these early games — I believe you’ve heard me say this — but it’s the team that doesn’t make the least amount of mistakes that wins the most, and I think it’s will go a long way,” Campbell said. And of course, your conditioning. I don’t think anyone is going to be in better shape than us. [be] Going into Game 1.
“I think we’re as prepared as we can be, no, I think we just focus on the things we do, and I think they’ll serve us right and we’ll see where we go.”
Where they hope to advance to their first playoff game since 2016. The Lions are 0-4-1 in their past five season openers, tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the second-longest active winless streak in such games behind the Indianapolis Colts (nine straight losses). But Detroit believes it has all the ingredients to solve this year’s early season woes.
“It just goes into that confidence because now it’s going into year 3 with Coach Dan and the coaching staff, everybody knows the drills,” Sewell told ESPN. Now, it’s just a matter of more attention to detail, doing it right, getting those reps and just getting a feel for it. So, the emphasis this whole offseason has been on getting the details down and trying to go faster.”