Troubling statistical trends as Detroit Lions look for first win

The Lions are off to their first 0-4 start since 2015. They finished that season 7-9. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

DETROIT, Mich. -- Inside the Allen Park practice facility, first-year Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is trying his best to keep a high-spirited atmosphere in the midst of an 0-4 start.

Along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Lions are one of two winless teams in the NFL. But Campbell is adamant he is isn't disheartened by his team's early fortunes.

“I mean, look, yeah, I would love to be 4-0 right now, but I’m not -- look, I’m still not discouraged,” Campbell said Monday, less than 24 hours after suffering a 24-14 loss on the road against the Chicago Bears.

Detroit has dropped eight straight games dating back to last season, which is the second-longest active losing streak behind the Jaguars at 19. They next visit a 1-3 Minnesota Vikings squad that has beaten the Lions in seven straight and by an average margin of 11.6 points (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET on Fox).

The Lions desperately need a win. But there are some troubling trends from their first four games that may make that difficult.

Here is a closer look at the Lions’ rocky start.

First 0-4 start since 2015

There have been 70 teams in the NFL to start 0-4 since 2000. The Lions have done it six times during that stretch, including this year. The most recent came in 2015 under then head coach Jim Caldwell, who eventually steered the club to a 7-9 record.

Worst scoring differential through four games since 2009

The Lions have put up 81 points through four games, while allowing 119 points. The last Lions team to give up a points margin higher than -38 in the first four games were the 2009 edition (-51). That team, fresh off the infamous 0-16 season in 2008, finished the year 2-14.

Fewest points through four games since 2015

Re-evaluating fourth down decisions will likely help the Lions in this category. So far, Campbell has decided to go for it on fourth down more than any other coach in the league, with the Lions converting on three of their 10 attempts. That proved to be costly, particularly in the latest loss in Chicago, where Detroit failed to score on four different drives that reached the red zone. That tied for the most by any team in a game since 2000, while setting a franchise record.

“We’re not functioning well enough right now, or efficiently well enough, to continue down that road until we really try to work on it and then let’s see if we can improve and get it to where we want,” Campbell said of the Lions' red-zone struggles against the Bears. “So, we’re going to have to make a serious focal point on this area to continue that way. Those are the facts.”

Worst Total QBR through four games since 2010

Lions quarterback Jared Goff has the eighth-worst total QBR (40.6) in the league through four games. To Goff’s credit, the Lions roster has been flooded with injuries, including wide receiver Tyrell Williams, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. He’s also learning a new system after acquired from the Los Angeles Rams at the end of last season. However, he’s lost seven straight games as a starter, including the playoffs, which is tied for the longest losing streak of his career. In Los Angeles, he lost his first seven career starts as a rookie.

NFL-worst 10.6 yards per pass attempt allowed

The Lions are allowing 10.6 yards per pass attempt, the worst rate by any team through four games since at least 2000.

This statistic pretty much speaks for itself. The Lions defense is once again struggling to limit opponents’ passing games. With cornerbacks Jeff Okudah (Achilles) and Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) on injured reserve, backups like Bobby Price have been thrown into the fire of an already thin secondary unit.

“As a secondary and as a whole, we’re still working through the grooves,” said safety Dean Marlowe. “We’re still finding out which attribute each player has, what they bring to the table, what someone’s not good at, what, what player is good at. We’re rotating a lot of guys, we’re learning how to play with each other and we’re just trying to figure out what’s best for us.”