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Chiefs-Lions 5 questions with the enemy: What if the Chiefs cannot pressure Jared Goff?

We welcome Pride of Detroit for answers to five questions about the Detroit Lions before Thursday’s Week 1 matchup

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Detroit Lions. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored to win. We welcome Ryan Matthews of Pride of Detroit — our sister SB Nation site covering the Detroit Lions — for Five Questions with the Enemy.

1) How pleased are you that the Lions front office showed patience with Dan Campbell? What about him has been so refreshing?

After enduring the longest, most arduous trudge through Lions fandom between 2018 and 2020, for the organization to finally make the right hire and then stick by their guys through the process, it’s such a relief. Instead of bracing for another teardown and rebuild, instead of the NFL Draft being the most exciting time of the year, the fan base has a regime worth having confidence in because there’s respect and accountability in Detroit for the first time since Jim Caldwell left in 2017.

As far as Campbell goes, he’s just authentic. Going from Matt Patricia, who tried to keep every little thing under lock and key like his old boss, to Campbell–the straight shooter who wears his emotions on his sleeve–was a shock to the system in the best way possible.

2) Jared Goff looks at home in Detroit. Is he the guy for the long term now?

Goff certainly did settle in nicely after another disastrous start to the season in 2022. It certainly wasn’t all on him, but through those first six games, Goff was turning the ball over at an alarming rate (six interceptions, three fumbles lost), and this defense wasn’t in any shape to withstand those kinds of mistakes from the offense. Of course, the switch got flipped, Detroit finished 8-2 over their final 10 games, and Goff was a big part of the team’s success because he limited the turnovers–just one lost fumble over that stretch.

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has worked with Goff extensively on designing an offense to best accentuate his skill set, prioritizing short, quick throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and play-action passes to create explosive plays. The Lions did draft Hendon Hooker in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, so it’s hard to say for sure whether Goff is the long-term quarterback in Detroit, but if he has an entire season that more closely resembles the back half of 2022 rather than how it started, an extension next offseason would be a real possibility.

3) I’ll not lie, I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the Lions' defense. Can you give us a couple of players that we Chiefs fans should be familiar with?

No shame in telling the truth, but it’s also not surprising to hear you don’t know much about the Lions defense. Through the first half of 2022, Detroit fans didn’t want to know about the Lions defense either. During their 1-6 start to the season, the defensive per game averages for the Lions: 32.1 points, 154.9 rushing yards, and a whopping 421.3 yards of total offense.


The defense definitely started to turn things around over the final 10 games, and they had a couple of dominant performances, shutting down a piping hot Saquon Barkley to the tune of 22 rushing yards on 15 carries and limiting the Jacksonville Jaguars to just 14 points and 266 yards of total offense in Week 13. The porous rushing defense reared its ugly head when the Carolina Panthers ran all over them on Christmas Eve (320 rushing yards), but the unit as a whole was improving from a consistency standpoint, mostly due to some individual players finally putting it together.

Whereas some rookies can hit that proverbial wall in their first season, Aidan Hutchinson blasted through it. From Week 10 through the end of the season, Hutchinson was a top-20 edge defender in terms of quarterback pressures and a top-five defender against the run. Safety Kerby Joseph–another rookie from the 2022 class–stepped up in a big way after veteran Tracy Walker suffered an Achilles injury, snagging four interceptions–none bigger than the pick in Week 18 that ended the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay.

Aside from that, Detroit completely remodeled their secondary this offseason, signing cornerback Cam Sutton to be the team’s No. 1 guy and Emmanuel Moseley, who the team is bringing along slowly after tearing his ACL last season and starting training camp PUP. He returned to practice this week, but he’s a longshot to see the field–or the active gameday roster, for that matter–in the season opener. Their big splash signing was getting C.J. Gardner-Johnson, someone who was expected to play the slot, but was moved back to safety to accommodate for the last player I’ll put on your radar: defensive back Brian Branch. Lions fans only got to see glimpses of Branch if they attended training camp because he was put on the shelf with the rest of the starters after playing 16 snaps in the preseason opener.

4) Without Chris Jones, the Chiefs' defense is expected to take a step back. How do you think the Lions will exploit 95’s absence?

Jones is obviously one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and last year he finally took the crown from Aaron Donald as the best interior defender in the sport. The one thing a defense cannot afford to do is let Jared Goff operate from a clean pocket. When Goff isn’t pressured, he’s one of the most accurate and productive quarterbacks. Last year, he had a better completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio than Patrick Mahomes, and from my understanding, he’s a pretty good mile marker for quarterback play.

If Goff is comfortable, the Lions can mix in a lot of the play-action passes I mentioned earlier, another comfort zone so to speak for the Lions quarterback. Last year, he threw for more touchdown passes (16) off of play-action concepts than any other quarterback. Add in the fact that Detroit added pass-catching threats like Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta to the fold and it’s going to be imperative that the Chiefs figure out a way to pressure Goff, move him off his spot and out of rhythm in order to tame this Lions passing attack.

5) Under Ben Johnson, we’ve seen designed laterals — we’ve seen tackles running motion — and we’ve seen some other weird and wonderful plays. We Chiefs fans love the creative side of offenses. What crazy play design would you like him to show the world on Thursday?

Is it fair for me to say I don’t want to see anything too crazy? Give me more meat and potatoes! Give me more of the Lions fleet-footed and powerful offensive linemen pulling on run plays. Give me more of Goff using his accuracy to hit receivers in stride for yards after the catch. Give me more of the balanced, effective offense Ben Johnson has built but with the added pizzazz of new playmakers like David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Sam LaPorta.

There are some concerns that since Johnson has been in a prominent role for around a year and a half in the Lions offense, the league has the tape on him; he’s going to get figured out and the unpredictable aspect of his offense isn’t going to catch defensive coordinators off guard as often. We’ll see if that’s the case, but I don’t see it being so easy when the Lions offensive line, provided it stays healthy, is going to be such a difference maker in both phases on offense. There’s not a whole lot you can do to affect Goff’s accuracy if he isn’t pressured, and there isn’t a defender on the field fast enough to catch Gibbs if he hits a hole with daylight.

Bonus question: The Chiefs are 6.5 favorites. Do you think the Lions will cause the upset? Let’s have a score prediction and an anytime touchdown tip...

You asked me this question before the news about Travis Kelce’s knee injury in practice, which, in all honesty, is such an absolute bummer. I wanted to see the Lions play the defending Super Bowl champs, and that’s just not the case with Jones and Kelce likely out for Thursday night’s contest.

I would have had a much harder time calling an upset if those players were properly compensated and healthy — it’s still tough when Mahomes is under center — but I think Detroit gets it done and David Montgomery hits paydirt for an anytime TD (+120).

Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.

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