Cleveland Browns Scouting Report: Detroit Lions

Lions coach Dan Campbell wears his emotions on his sleeve, but his players respect him and play hard for him. (Getty Images)

Lions coach Dan Campbell wears his emotions on his sleeve, but his players respect him and play hard for him. (Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns scouting report: Detroit Lions

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is an analyst on the Cleveland Browns for and 850 ESPN Cleveland. 

Browns v. Detroit Lions

Sunday, 1 p.m., in FirstEnergy Stadium

Record: 0-8-1.

Last game: Tied Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-16, Nov. 14, in Pittsburgh.

Coach: Dan Campbell, 0-8-1, first year; 5-15-1 overall.

Series record: Lions lead, 19-5 (counting postseason).

Last meeting: Lions won, 38-24, Nov. 12, 2017, in Detroit.

League rankings: Offense is 29th overall (28th rushing, 20th passing), defense is 28th overall (30th rushing, 16th passing), and turnover differential is minus-1.

Things to watch

1. When the Lions traded quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Rams on Feb. 1, it essentially was for a third-round pick in 2021 and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023. The cost to the Lions included quarterback Jared Goff and $41 million in guarantees over the next two years. If Goff is on the roster in 2022, he’ll receive an additional $10.6 million in base salary. So the Lions figured they’d commit the 2021 season to trying to revive Goff’s game. It hasn’t gone well. Bereft of playmakers, Goff is averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt with 8 touchdown, 6 interceptions and a passer rating of 84.0. He suffered an oblique injury in the Pittsburgh game and could give way this week to David Blough.

2. Head coach Dan Campbell took play-calling duties away from coordinator Anthony Lynn last week and the result was an all-in commitment to running the ball. Against the Steelers, the Lions ran 39 times for 229 yards. The beneficiary was second-year back D’Andre Swift, who had season highs of 33 carries and 130 yards. With no playmakers at receiver, Campbell believes his best chance for a win is to run the ball as much as he can.

3. Tight end T.J. Hockenson (48 receptions, 448 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Swift (50, 420, 2) are the leading receivers. Wideouts Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond and KhaDarel Hodge will be joined this week by Josh Reynolds, a waiver claim from the Rams. Throwing the ball isn’t much of an option for the Lions.

4. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is a highly regarded up-and-comer, but he doesn’t have the horses to win games on his side of the ball. The Lions have 10 takeaways (two more than the Browns) and are better defending third downs (42.3 conversion rate by opponents) than the Browns (44.4). Their 14 quarterback sacks are tied for second-fewest in the league and they have only one in the last 120 dropbacks by opposing quarterbacks. The Lions lost Romeo Okwara, their best pass rusher, with a season-ending Achilles injury.

Did you know … ?

1. The Lions had three kickers in training camp, claimed ex-Brown Austin Seibert to start the season, lost him to a hip injury and saw replacement Ryan Santoso miss a PAT and 48-yard field goal try in overtime in the tie with Pittsburgh. They are expected to sign a new kicker this week after holding tryouts on Tuesday.

2. Besides Okwara, the Lions have two other key players on injured reserve – Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and 2020 No. 1 pick cornerback Jeff Okudah.

3. Former Browns GM John Dorsey is a senior personnel executive under Lions GM Brad Holmes. Dorsey, of course, swung the trade for Odell Beckham Jr. with the Browns. But the Lions had no intention of adding OBJ via a waiver claim or as a free agent signing after the Browns waived the disgruntled receiver.

Small world: John Dorsey was Browns GM from late 2017 through 2019 … Receiver KhaDarel Hodge was with the Browns 2019-20 … Quarterback David Blough joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and was traded to the Lions … Center Evan Brown was with the Browns in 2020 … Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn was Browns running backs coach 2007-08 … Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was Browns assistant secondary coach 2014-15 … Offensive line coach Hank Fraley was a Browns center 2006-09 … Chris Spielman, special assistant to president/CEO and chairperson, spent the 1999 training camp with the Browns. The graduate of Massillon Washington HS and Ohio State retired before officially playing a game for the Browns.