Rob Rubick: Lions must protect Stafford

By Rob Rubick:
Ford Lions Report Live Analyst

Defensive Keys

If the Lions can go to Jacksonville and play a solid game, they should come away with a win.

Jacksonville has had some issues on the offensive side of the ball. Blaine Gabbert is managing the game. He has 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on the season, which aren't bad stats, but the Jaguars offensive numbers are pretty low overall.

The Jags aren't putting up many yards or points, and when you lose your top weapon in Maurice Jones-Drew, it's going to put more pressure on Gabbert, which can be difficult for a young quarterback.

This matchup really works in the Lions' favor. In the last few weeks the Lions have pressured the quarterback with their defensive line and they need to continue to do that to help out their secondary. If they can do that, they should be fine.

Offensive Keys

Offensively, the Lions are starting to figure some things out.

Matthew Stafford is being very patient and he needs to continue to do that and pick defenses apart with underneath throws.

Detroit needs to continue using its tight ends and backs in the passing game. They can have the occasional deep pass, like we saw with Titus Young on Sunday against Seattle, but 90% of the Lions' passing game is going to be routes 10 yards or shorter.

Teams are going to keep playing that way defensively against Detroit and Stafford is coming to grips with that. He can still put up 350 yards passing if he's patient and that's what he's going to have to do again in Jacksonville.

The Lions are going to see a lot of the same defenses they've seen the first seven weeks and they have to remain patient.

Jacksonville has only seven sacks this season and Detroit's offensive line has played pretty well so far.

Stafford threw the ball 49 times against Seattle but was only sacked twice. Of those 49 passes, 30 of them were probably 3-step-drops and they're getting the ball out to tight ends or running backs quicker, but Stafford is not getting hit very much and that's what you like to see.

With Jacksonville struggling getting pressure, it plays right into Detroit's hands.

The key to this game is turnovers. If Jacksonville wins the turnover battle, Detroit could lose this game. 

It's tough to win on the road, whether you're playing 1-6 Jacksonville or 6-1 Chicago.

You've got to protect the football, protect your quarterback, and win the line of scrimmage defensively. If the Lions can do those things, they have a great opportunity to win.

Remaining Focused 

The Lions just need to take care of business. Coach Schwartz has always done a great job of keeping them focused during his tenure.

In the NFL it's difficult to win and very easy to lose. If they keep that in mind, they'll remain focused this week.

Rob Rubick joins Tom Leyden and Herman Moore on the Ford Lions Report Live every Sunday at 11 am throughout the season. You can follow Rob on Twitter @RRubick


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