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Lions Scheme a Worrying Problem

Matthew Stafford likes to play out of the Shotgun. By taking the snap a few yards back, it allows him to see the defense quicker and recognize what they are doing. As much as he may like it, I think it hurts the Lions as a team.

The biggest problem with the Shotgun is that it does not accommodate a running game very well. Especially against a good defensive line. Go back and watch the games and keep track of how Jahvid Best ran the ball in the shotgun compared to taking a straight hand off on the move. Almost every one of Bests carries for more than 2 or 3 yards came from a standard hand-off. I don't think Best broke loose for even one 5 yard carry on a shotgun draw play. Yet because the Lions played out of the shotgun so much, more than half of Best's runs have come out of that set.

Now consider it from this angle. If the defensive line for the opposing team sees the Lions in the shotgun formation, what does that scream to them? It practically shouts out that they do not need to worry about the run and so they can go full speed for the quarterback. This makes it much harder for the offensive line to block them.

A good running game will force the defensive line to hesitate. They need to slow their pace down a hair to allow them to watch for the run as well as the pass. This will make your offensive line look much better. But since the Lions are playing out of the shotgun formation so often, the defense does not need to worry about that.

It is good to put Stafford in a position that he is comfortable, but sometimes that comfort can be too costly. Sometimes it can be the catalyst to why he cannot get comfortable. Stafford is comfortable in the shotgun, but since it practically single-handedly destroys any hopes of a good running game, it allows the defensive ends to come for Stafford at full speed. This allows them to put a lot of pressure on Stafford and thus, actually keeps him from getting comfortable.

If the Lions want a ground game. If they want a good balance to their offense. If the Detroit Lions want to beat teams like the 49ers, Patriots and Packers, they need to use the shotgun formation like other good teams do. When they are in real passing downs. As it stands, the scheme they choose to use so often, takes away the running game, allows defensive ends to tee off on Stafford and makes it much harder for the offensive line to protect him.

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