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A Few Things The Lions Just Dont Get

If you know me, you know I have not been a fan of Scott Linehan this year. These days I am even finding problems with the whole Detroit Lions coaching staff.

There are things I see and shout at the television set... "How can you not see it?" Hanging out in the CBS.com Lions message board, I find there are plenty of other fans who see the same thing. So if I can see it and so many other fans can see it, how can it be that the Lions coaches do not see it?

Down field passes:
Quite frankly, if you do not have a down field threat, you do nothing but help the defense stop you. If the defense is not afraid of being burnt deep, they will allow their safeties to cheat up towards the line. This will do two things. Take away running room for the running backs and help them cover the receivers.

Note that I do not say you have to have a good down field passing game, but only the threat. If you take shots deep, whether you complete them or not, it will force safeties to take a step back because they don't want to be beat. When you have receivers the likes of Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, the safeties have no choice but to worry about it.

Against the Cowboys, the Lions had one of their better down field passing days. For the game, Shaun Hill had seven pass attempts for more than 15 yards down field. The problem however, is after the first two that were very early in the game, they did not have another deep attempt until 5:18 left in the third quarter. So they only threw the ball down field twice in almost three full quarters. To make it worse, one of those first two came when it was 3rd and 10. A definite passing down.

If you continue to only pass short, and you bring the defense in tight, how are your running backs supposed to find room to run?

The Running Game:
It seems the Lions are bent on forcing the running game. It is almost like watching a stupid kid try over and over to force a square peg into a round hole. After over half of a season of not getting a running game going, you would think the Lions would try doing something different to get it going. To get their running backs more room to run. The genius decision that head coach Jim Schwartz comes up with? Let's try using a running back by committee.

Seriously? Your best running backs are not able to get the job done and you think by adding your lesser players into the mix, this will make it better? Really Schwartz?

Do they think of throwing down field a lot more to force the linebackers and safeties off the line a little would help? Do they consider trying to use Felton, a Full Back as a lead blocker? Nah, we will just use players that are not as good and see if that does the job.

Can someone tell me if Felton is a fullback or just a big running back? I just watched the Lions vs Cowboys torture a second time. I did not see Felton as a lead blocker. I saw him run the ball and I saw him catch a pass. I saw him as a decoy, but I did not see him used how a fullback is supposed to be used. To clear out running lanes. They will pull Sims the Left Guard to lead block up the right side, but they wont allow a fullback to lead block? They will use an extra tight end, who will be blocking someone on the outside who would never be a real factor rather than use a fullback to clear a linebacker out of the running lane.

Short Yardage:
I have been saying for years that Dominic Raiola is not powerful enough to play center. He is usually decent in pass protection (Not including the Dallas game), but when it comes to short yardage, he gets manhandled. Year after year the Lions will try to run up the middle and get stopped. Yet they just don't seem to get that the point of contact in the center of the line gets pushed back rather than forward.

I thought Schwartz was starting to understand this early in the season when he brought in Ndamukong Suh as a lead blocker for two short yardage plays in a row. They were stopped both times. Yet he still has done nothing about it. They haven't gotten a beefier center for short yardage and they continue to try to run up the middle. The Cowboys have a better short yardage line than the Lions do, but even they realized they cant keep doing it against the Lions defensive line, so they ran a play action bootleg rather than run up the middle. And we all watched Kitna, the second oldest player in the NFL, run 29 yards for a touchdown because of it. It seems that not only do the Lions seem unable to come up with that but they are unable to realize that other teams can.

The lions have arguably the most dynamic receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson. They have a speedy running back in Jahvid Best. With Best ailing right now, they still have Aaron Brown who has a lot of speed. Yet they will try to run up the gut rather than use the tools that fit the job. Like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

The Lions have arguably the best defensive line in football. But Gunther Cunningham seems to fail to believe that they can be slowed. With only three sacks in the last three games, it is obvious to everyone that the defensive line is not getting to the quarterback right now. What does Gunther do to fix it? Yeah, its the old square peg thing again. He continues to rush four linemen only. In watching the Dallas game over again, I only saw the Lions blitz five times. Of those blitzes only once was it disguised. They show blitz quite often, but very rarely do they actually send anyone.

It is tiring to watch the Lions have the same problems game after game and do so little to change them. The fans see these problems and I see them. The Lions coaches however keep trying to force the same square pegs into round holes over and over.

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