The Lions are a team that is, by design, built to score in the passing game and get opposing teams on their heels’ so our front four can attack. That is why Matt Stafford and company have bypassed glaring needs with most of their draft choices, instead acquiring more offensive weapons like Pettigrew, Best, LeShoure, Young, and Broyles. Despite their turn around in 2011, the strategy is not working.
The Lions’ disappointing start to the 2012 season has been well documented, but few commentators or analysts are actually talking about the real issues at hand. Detroit has been created to be a pass first team. When you have the best receiver in the NFL and one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the game, this seems like a good strategy. This formula in and of itself is not the problem, but defenses have quickly adjusted, as NFL defenses do.
Every team they play continues to drape bracket coverage over Calvin Johnson
, while sitting in a passive Cover 2 shell all day long. Cover 2 is not some mystical and impenetrable fortress. In fact it can actually be advantageous for the offense to know where the holes are in the zones pre-snap. What the coverage does, though, is dictate where Stafford can go with the ball most of the time. This bend-but-don’t-break style of defense works more often than not, because it demands that teams dink and dunk
their way down the field. By giving up less big plays, the opposition is forced to continually move the ball in bite sized chunks. Doing this is hard in the NFL, because playing a perfect game offensively just doesn’t happen very often. Making it worse is the fact that the Lions are currently leading the NFL with 15 dropped passes, averaging almost four per game. Playing into the opponents’ hand further, they are only averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt, ranking them 16th
in the NFL.
The Lions go into each game knowing they are going to see a double high safety look with this Cover 2 shell. Most coaches will tell you, you have to take what the defense is giving you. That is what Schwartz and Linehan have attempted to do. The Lions are 2nd in both the total number of offensive plays run and the amount of pass attempts through the first four weeks of the season. Yet with almost 300 offensive plays run and 102 first downs (2nd most in the NFL), the team is still working out the kinks.
As you would expect, the coaching staff is determined to take advantage of the seven-man boxes they are facing week-in week-out. So as expected the Lions have tried to run on these favorable fronts 100 times, but have only averaged a measly 3.6 yards per carry which ranks them 25th
in the league. Read more…