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Are We Too in Love with the Passing Game?

I have heard the same arguments over and over. Today's NFL is a Passing NFL. Teams like the Packers, Patriots and Giants don't have good running games and they win Superbowls. ..... But does that really mean the running game doesn't help?

The Giants had a bad running game if you look at the stats. You know what they did have? A running game that could gain the one or two yards to extend drives. They also had a good defense.

The Packers may not have had the good running game, but they did have a good defense when they won the Superbowl.

Where are the Lions two weakest positions? The Running game and the Defense. Specifically the CBs!

Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards last year. He had one of the best seasons by an NFL quarterback, ever! Calvin Johnson was awesome. Can they repeat that again in 2013? Sure they can. Should we expect it? Absolutely not!

Last year was not a great year. It was an awesome year for the Stafford to Calvin hookup. But realistically, you have to expect they will not be quite as good this year. They will still be great, but it is too much to expect them to put up a top ten season ever in the NFL year after year. Likely, there will be a slight settling back to Earth and we need to be ready for that.

The Lions will be playing a tougher schedule this year. This means that the Lions will have to improve somewhere to have another play-off birth. If they stay the same, and they play a tougher schedule, they will win less games.

Can we expect their defense to be much better?Frankly, I don't see it. They are replacing their second best CB with a 3rd round rookie. They have not made any improvements at Linebacker or Defensive Line. If anything, I see a better chance the Lions defense will not be as good as last year, and that is a scary thing to ponder. If they were to change their scheme away from the Wide-9 Defense except on passing downs, they might be better. I don't see them doing that, and I have not heard anything about them looking to do that.

The running game might be better. They have added Riley Reiff and though I expect rookie mistakes from a rookie lineman, he may help the most in run blocking. Then there is the fact that Jahvid Best and Leshoure will be healthier this year. That might be a stretch however. Can we expect LeShoure to be 100% this year? After his injury, I don't see it. At least not until the second half of the season, if this year, if ever. We all know well that Best could be lost for the season the first time he bumps his head.

Still, we have to be realistic here. The Lions love to use the Shotgun offensive scheme. They will run half of their running plays from the shotgun draw. The other half the running plays will still be from a single back set. Ask yourself, how many running backs, other than Chris Johnson, can you expect to have good years without a lead blocker? Now remind yourself that last year, even Chris Johnson was not great looking.

For the Lions to have a good running game, or even a decent running game, using the single back set and from the shotgun half of the time, they will need a lot to go right. They will need Best to stay healthy all year. They will need some power from LeShoure. They will need Reiff to play well in his first year in the NFL. I just think that would be expecting too much to go perfect.

The Lions one hope is to start using a lead blocker. Best running left or right in a two TE set, does not help the running game much. Any TE on the other side of the line from where he runs would become a moot point. Useless! If they line both TE's on the same side, they telegraph where the running game is going. Especially since the Lions never use misdirection play. No, what they need is for the Lions to open a hole, which it does far more often than we give them credit for, and then for a Fullback to clear the Linebacker or Safety out of the hole to spring the running back free.

Get some semblance of a running game.... a real running game .... and then opposing defenses will have to defend that. In turn it will help the passing game stay open and free. On short yardage downs, with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Burleson, and Pettigrew, the defense will be afraid to sell completely out to stop the run and the better running game could then extend the drive.

A better running game does absolutely NOTHING, other than help the Lions become a better team! Will Stafford throw for another 5'000 yards? Likely not, but it would be better to have 4,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards running, than to have 5'000 yards passing, and 500 rushing.

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