Pat Caputo: Campbell, Holmes coming up short, too

It was fourth-and-one just outside the Lions’ 40. Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow flipped a simple screen pass to running back Joe Mixon.

As he bolted down the sideline, Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase sent Lions’ safety Will Harris flying with a crushing block, escorting Mixon into the end zone.

The play was emblematic of the Lions’ plight every Sunday.

They don’t have a Joe Burrow, a Joe Mixon nor a Ja’Marr Chase. But they do have a lot of players like Will Harris.

The Lions lack stars, especially young ones. Combine that with an equally noticeable lack of depth, and you have a flagging NFL entity wth an 0-6 record.

The Lions’ best player is a center, Frank Ragnow. He is out for the season with an injury, so they aren’t even able to run up the middle efficiently like at the start of the season.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift have had their moments, but not nearly enough of them to make up for the Lions’ overall ineptitude. Quarterback Jared Goff, frankly, doesn’t have a chance.

It’s still early, but the initial returns on general manager Brad Holmes’ first draft aren’t especially promising. Penei Sewell continues to be overwhelmed. The second tackle taken in the draft, Rashawn Slater from Northwestern by the Chargers, has been much more effective.

None of the other picks have flashed difference-making ability. It doesn’t mean Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Amon-Ra St. Brown nor Derrick Barnes won’t become long-term starters, but true impact players? Seems unlikely.

There are a combination of factors that lead to success in the NFL. The Lions check none of the boxes.

Head coach Dan Campbell and Holmes were given a terrible hand. Yet, nothing they have demonstrated suggests they will be differencemakers, either.

Holmes hasn’t exactly found diamonds in the rough. The Lions’ preparation for most of their games has been lacking. It’s one thing to come up short with a solid effort and game plan, another to not remotely be competitive.

Apathy has set in, too. The crowd at Ford Field was thin Sunday, and never got loud.

The Bengals, on the other hand, are a traditional laughing stock franchise in the NFL, too. The Brown family is no more respected in NFL quarters than the Fords.

But Cincinnati has at least been to a couple Super Bowls, albeit many years ago, and been a playoff participant regularly in recent memory.

The Bengals have a better future, too.

Don’t believe it. Check out that play Sunday. Speaks volumes.