By: Rob Rubick
Ford Lions Report Live Analyst
The Lions have to get their offense going.
The Lions are a team that needs to throw to run. If the Lions get the passing game going, that’s going to benefit them in the running game, especially with Mikel Leshoure playing. With Kevin Smith, it gives you a little bit of a change of pace.
They have to do a better job in the passing game and get Stafford going. He can’t throw the early picks like he has in the past two weeks.
The bad part is, there’s a blueprint out there now. Jeff Fisher created a little bit of a blueprint when they played the Rams and Jim Harbaugh continued that blueprint. The blueprint is to rush three or four guys and cover with seven or eight on the backside and limit Calvin’s big play capability.
Calvin had 80 or 90 yards but it took a lot of receptions because the defenses haven’t given him the 30 or 40 yard gains like he’s gotten in the past. The Lions obviously have to figure out a way to do something against that.
We’ve seen their protections be good with the offensive line but that’s partially because teams have only been rushing three or four to force Matthew Stafford to be patient with the underneath passing game. He has to continue to do that but they also have to try and find a way to get the ball down the field to Calvin.
They need to get off the field on third down.
If Chris Houston plays, that will help. He’s their best corner and has not been in there. With three backups out of the four positions, they’ve struggled getting off the field on third down.
Luckily,they’re playing Tennessee,who’s 31 st in the league in third down conversions. They’re only converting 26%on third down. The Lions should have better luck getting off the field on third down.
This is a team the Lions need to dominate defensively. Tennessee only averages 11.5 points per game and they’re 32nd in the league in the running game at only 29 yards a game. So when you’re facing a team that’s 32nd in the run and 32nd in the league in scoring, the Lions need to go in there and shut it down.
If you can do that, it will allow the Lions offense to get rolling and in my opinion, they’re going to come out on top and have a very successful afternoon.
It’s not vitally important that they get off to a fast start. Last year, they had a lot of wins where they came out of the gates slowly and in the second half played better than they did in the first half.
We’ve seen that already this year. Against San Francisco, they played better in the second half. Against the Rams,they played better in the second half.
For one reason or another, they’re just not really a good first half team yet.
I’d love to see them hang 21 points in the first half, just like every other Lions fan would, but is that the key to this game? I don’t really think it is. I think they can come out and sputter their way down.
What the Lions can’t do is come out and give points away offensively. The Titans are a team that struggles with their offense and you don’t want to give them a short field on fumbles or interceptions and let their offense find itself.
You don’t need to score,but you need to pick up some first downs, get the field position going, and keep the offense of Tennessee working with a long field. The Lions don’t have to get off to a fast start, but they can’t get off to a bad start.
Keep Chris Johnson in Check
You don’t want to get Chris Johnson excited.
Right now, I guarantee he’s finger-pointing and mumbling and grumbling. You don’t want him to get off and get a 20 or 30-yard gain early in the game. That will get his confidence up and the offensive line’s confidence up and give them a feeling they can do some things in the running game.
You want to hit them early, stifle them, and get Chris Johnson down on himself and down on his team. Once you do that, you make them one dimensional.
A young quarterback like Jake Locker has talent, but he’s not at the level that he’s going to beat you.
Locker’s not going to sit back and pick you apart with his arm and move that offense. They rely on Chris Johnson so if you can take him away and make the Titans one dimensional, that allows the Lions defensive line to rush four, get pressure and get after him.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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