Let’s Talk About The Lions

Posted: October 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »

Detroit is coming off a bye.  They should be well rested and the coaches will have had a chance to fix some problems.  That timing does not help us.  The good news…the Lions are just 1-3 and they have a lot of stuff to fix.

This week we start not on offense or defense, but STs.  Have you heard about the Lions?  In 4 games, they have allowed 4 return TDs.  I’m not sure the Eagles have allowed that in 4 years.  To do it in 4 weeks is beyond shocking.  That is literally some of the worst STs play I have ever heard of.

There have been 3 KOR scores this year.  The Lions allowed 2 of them.  They are dead last in KO coverage (we’re down at 5th).  Allowing 2 PR TDs really skews the stats.  Returners average 27.3 yards per PR vs the Lions.  That’s worst in the league.  We’re 8th at 11.1.  To put Detroit’s 27.3 average in perspective…the longest return we’ve allowed is just 23 yards.  Crazy.

The Lions are 31st in the league with a punting average of 40.3 yards.  That’s awful.  NE is worse, but it appears a lot of that is due to downing the ball inside the 20.  3 different Punters have kicked for them this year.  Jason Hanson remains the PK and a very good one, even at age 237.

Stefan Logan is the PR and KOR.  He has very good speed and has posted good numbers this year.  He is a threat to our coverage units.

The real key to this is the core of the STs units.  You need players who buy into the fact they are STers.  They have to want to cover kicks.  They have to want to block.  Some guys do this and make a great career.  Look at Ike Reese.  Other players see STs as something beneath them and it costs them a job.  Look at Brian Rolle, still blows me away.

Check out this blurb from a PFW article:

“Special teams comes down to attitude and no one on the Lions wants to be on special teams and this is the result,” former Lions special-teams ace Zack Follett wrote on Twitter during Detroit’s 20-13 loss to Minnesota at Ford Field.

The way we hear it, the collective attitude of a roster laden with character risks could be what’s really ailing the Lions

The Lions have taken a lot of character risks in recent years.  Those guys were all very talented, but had issues on and off the field.  There is nothing wrong with mixing in those guys, but too many can cause a team to develop issues.

Detroit had a breakout year in 2011.  Are they simply not handling success well?  Is the 1-3 start a fluke?  Was last year the fluke and the team is now being exposed?  In the PFW article. a rival GM really rips into the Lions.  You never know what to make of those comments.  Does the guy have an axe to grind or is he just speaking the truth?

Detroit started off last year 6-2.  They had a bye week.  They finished 4-4.  3 of the 4 games they lost after the bye were by double digits.  Most of their post-bye wins were vs bad teams (CAR, OAK, MIN).  The only “good” win was against the Chargers, who had a down year.

The Lions then lost to the Saints in the playoffs.  They are now 1-3.  The lone win this year was against the Rams in the opener.  And that was a last second victory.  So since the bye week last year, the Lions are 5-8.  And the wins aren’t impressive at all.

While the team might be getting exposed a bit, it is hard to predict how they will handle the bye this year.  Last year apparently they spent it looking in the mirror and saying “You are awesome!”  This year that will be very different.  No, actually it should be very different, but that’s what we don’t know.  What kind of character do the Lions have?

If the 1-3 start did humble them and the coaches can get the players to wake up and pay attention, this could be a dangerous team.  I don’t trust them at all, but I do fear them because they have talent.  Unpredictable talent.

* * * * *

Do the Lions have a good defense?  I’m not sure.  They are 9th in the league in yards allowed, just behind us.  They are 26th in points allowed, but that is highly skewed by STs scores.  They’ve also had a pair of defensive TDs scored against them.  The Lions defense allows just 18 ppg, which would be a good figure.

The flip side is that QBs have a rating of 101.3 against them.  They’ve given up 5 TDs and have no INTs.  You also have to remember that they’ve faced Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder.  That’s not exactly murderer’s row.

The run defense is okay.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They allow 4.1 yds per carry.  That’s not good, but isn’t bad either.  Just okay.

The offense is 3rd in the league in yards, 11th in points.  Calvin Johnson is posting big numbers, except for TDs.  He only has 1 so far this year.  He and TE Brandon Pettigrew are the key targets, accounting for 160 receiving yards per game combined.  After them, the attack is very spread out.

The running game is struggling, but not awful.  The leading rusher has 126 yards on the year.  They don’t have a run of 20 or more yards from anyone.  Mikell Leshoure and Kevin Smith have some good moments, but aren’t players to be feared.

QB Matt Stafford has 3 TDs and 4 INTs this year.  He’s been sacked 9 times.  At his best, he is an explosive passer.  At his worst, he is a guy that will take a pounding, while looking for the big play.  He will throw INTs.  He’s already had 20 INT and 16 INT seasons in his young career.

* * * * *

This is a key game for the Eagles.  This is a game the team should win.  The Lions are talented, but flawed.  So are we (to be fair), but we’re playing better football this year.  I also think we’ve got the more talented roster and better coaching staff.

That said, I’m not totally at ease.  This is a pre-bye game for us.  We’ve had issues with those games over the years.  And this season teams are struggling in pre-bye games.  The last report I saw said teams were 2-8 in them.

Facing a team with one elite offensive player should be a good thing.  You know who to shut down.  We struggled with that vs Fitz and the Cardinals.  Megatron is better than Fitz.  We really need to step up this week, coaches and players.

I’ll have more on the matchup later.  Just wanted to get an intro to the Lions out there.

_


  • Ark87

    Another mystery team with their backs against the wall…coming off the bye week. Unlike the Pit game though, i think we can bury their season. Unlike Pit, Detroit has a reputation for not getting it together when the going gets tough, Stafford and Megatron are legit, but I think we will handle them enough that they don’t single-handedley beat us…just please god, Juan don’t single cover Megatron, I like our CB’s too…but he is the best of the best. I say follow him with DRC, he doesn’t HAVE to play physical (which I think would play into Megatron’s hands vs Nnamdi) he can stick with him and then contest the ball with his athleticism, then keep help over-top just to minimize the YAC damage for when those impossible to defend passes do come.

  • drichwine

    Just like this entire season, this game will all come down to Michael Vick. If Vick is good, running the offense, making a few big plays with his long ball and feet, and doesn’t turn the ball over, I can’t see them beating us. If Vick plays bad, it willl be a squeaker, win or lose. All I can say is if the Birds don’t win and win big, I’m not going to make excuses for them anymore. You want to be thought of as a elite team? You beat teams like Detroit and don’t give them a chance.
    Cleveland game: Excuse was Vick had no preseason time, and we did win. Ok.
    Baltimore: Excuse Baltimore was a good team and good defense, and we did win. Ok.
    Arizona: Arizona is sneakily a great defense and pretty good team, travelling to Arizona, a down game. It happens. Ok.
    Giants: Giants have a good defense, a great DL, crazy things happen vs. them, Vick look pretty good. We did win. Ok.
    Pitt: Pitt coming off a bye at home, no NFC team goes there and wins, great defense historically, sloppy night. Ok.
    Sooner or later if you want to be a great QB, you don’t make excuses anymore, and you don’t force your supporters to make excuses anymore. Vick has had a couple of good games, a terrible one and some fair ones. He has not yet had a great game, not even close. He needs to or I might have to change my opinion of him.

    • Steag209

      I think the game, and our season really, comes down to our OL. We know Vick is good if he has time, he just hasn’t this year. If the guys up front can raise their football IQ’s by a dozen points or so then I think this team could start rolling.

      • Ark87

        Any QB with time is good in this league. Sometime he does have time and no one is getting open. Sometime’s he feels pressure and doesn’t have the pocket presence to deal with that effectively.

        The story is simple. When talking about what the other defense did to us, every week since the Miracle at the New Meadow lands in 2010 you will hear some buzzwords, the big one being *blitz*. Zero blitz, overload blitz, double A gap blitz. Safety Blitz. It doesn’t matter the personnel or scheme that the other D has. They all have the same game plan vs the Eagles. Blitzing is risky business, there is a reason you don’t blitz every single play. It’s like leaving and empty net in hockey. Until we can consistently burn teams for blitzing, there will be no comfort in that pocket.

        Yes, there are busted pass protections, and the line does make mistakes, but it is not happening every play. Mike is going to have to get used to stepping up in the pocket and taking hits, and Andy is going to have to get used to not calling slow-developing pass plays until we can show we can score more than 20 points against a blitz-happy game plan (consistently).

        • austinfan

          Mike did fine against the blitz.
          He’s learning.

          The problem isn’t the blitzes, it’s the missed assignments by the OL, it’s one thing to get a helmet on a pass rusher and get beat as long as you slow him down, but if you let a pass rusher come clean that’s a busted play.

    • http://twitter.com/sjampendk Patrick

      To me, Vick doesnt even have to play good. I think it comes down to Vick not turning the god damn ball over and as always that Andy and the staff create a good game plan, i.e.. running the ball, utilizing the defense to create pressure and so on, like what we do when we play the freaking Giants. If Reid would do that, Vick doesnt have to be anything other than average, if hes better, then hallelujah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xbcsmith Brett Smith

    One thing I worry about coming into this game is that Det. plays a wide9. That means we are not going to surprise them with our pass rush.

    The other issue is what has happened to us against elite WRs this year. Fitz chewed us up… Megatron may be worse.

    If and I mean IF the pass rush can can get to Stafford we will survive. Det. can not close ranks and “Ground and Pound” us like Steelers did. They have a non existent run game.

    Now if they get a screen game going…. :(

    • BlindChow

      The Steelers didn’t have a run game either before they played us (and didn’t again last night against the Titans). I suspect Detroit will find theirs on Sunday.

  • http://twitter.com/corry_k Corry Henry

    I don’t have a great feel for this game. I believe (my memory could be way off here) Andy Reid has a pedestrian record prior to bye weeks and we are once again playing a team that is fairly desperate and coming off a bye where they could work out some kinks and get healthy.

    I think we can dominate this game, but it’s hard to say if we’ll stop falling all over ourselves (dropping the damn ball) in order to put together a solid game.

    BTW, I feel a little irony here. We’ve been screaming for a good defense since JJ passed, and now we have one. Unfortunately the offense now looks inept.

  • ACViking

    Re: Detroit’s last 13 games

    T-Law:

    That tid-bit made me look back at the Birds.

    The Eagles are 11-13 in their last 24 games, including the 2010 playoff loss to Green Bay.

    And since September 2005, the Eagles — save for the 2008 run — have really not seriously threatened to win the SB. Yes, they’ve made the playoffs. But it’s been 1-and-done when they did (save 2008). And I don’t remember a season when I thought, “This is the one” at the start of the playoffs.

    2005 is seven-plus years ago. Long, long time in NFL-world.

    • ACViking

      Okay . . . new year. New DB coach. New MLB and SLB. New DLs and starting CB. New OLT and C.

      But same HC. Same OC. Same DC.

      And same QB.

      It’s tough to visualize this team in the NFC title game right now.

      But, the NYG proved that a hot QB and rambunctious DL can get you to the title game.

      Remember hope.

      (I won’t get in the habit of responding to my own comments — except when talking about Dutch Van Brocklin, Concrete Charlie Bednarik, Tommy MacDonald, Maxie Baughn, Norm Snead and Sonny Jurgensen (can’t separate those two), Pete Retzlaff, Harold Jackson and Ben Hawkins, Israel “IZZY” Lang, Tom Woodeshick, Timmy Brown, Nate Ramsey, Al Nelson, Tim Rossevich, “Super Bill” Bradley . . . a host of others who are still alive.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=600841 Brian Winings

        They also weren’t one and done in 2006.

      • Ark87

        In 2010 I felt good going into the playoffs, felt we could beat anyone. It hadn’t quite sunk in yet that teams had solved the Mike Vick puzzle. To me they were just under motivated playing a bad Vikings team, then easing into the playoffs. Indeed we were right there in that game with the eventual super bowl champs, but time would show, that 2010 Mike Vick magic can be dispelled with heavy pressure.

        I don’t know that Mike Vick can “get hot”. He needs to ascend to a higher level of QB play. If he gets very good at recognizing what teams are doing to him at the line AND after the snap, understanding that teams are exposing themselves to big plays when they get cute with him and then capitalize on it. If he does that I have no doubt we are Superbowl-bound.

        • austinfan

          We were one errant throw by Vick from beating the eventual SB champions, two feet higher and Rodgers becomes the QB who can’t “win the big one.”

  • ACViking

    Re: Nickel Blitz

    T-Law:

    This is NOT about Vick.

    In your reviews of the first 5 games, have you seen the Eagles blitz from the slot.

    On Monday night, I watched a bit the Texans/Jets game . . . and Houston DC Wade Phillips called a nickel blitz from Sanchez’s blind side.

    You could just see it coming. The DB was cheating inside, his right leg was back about a half-foot or so like sprinter, and he kept peeking at Sanchez while virtually ignoring the slot receiver.

    Sanchez never eve looked his way.

    Anyway, made me wonder if Boykin’s been turned loose. Or any of the CBs for that matter.

    How ’bout he safeties?
    ______________

    On the blitzes Juan has called (and designed), it seems like DMR is the only guy getting the call. (Except a couple games back when T-Cole was playing DB.)

    Is Juan saving his elaborate blitzes for later in the year? Do we have elaborate blitzes?

    More fundamentally . . . Does the Wide 9 lend itself to a complementary blitzing scheme?

    • TommyLawlor

      I have seen Boykin blitz. I know he did it in the Giants game. Not sure about others.

    • Ark87

      “Vick is fine, those blitzes obliterate Sanchez too”, I’m sure that’s what Vick tells himself in the mirror every morning, “I’m no worse than Mark Sanchez, I can do this!”

      All joking aside, I wonder about our blitzing as well. Maybe Juan thinks that the opposition is gameplanning against pressure with short drops and heavy protection anyway and that the blitz might not even have time to get home anyway. Feels better off using those defenders towards minimizing the damage done on those short plays (which they’ve done well) or making a play on the ball (which they haven’t done well). I wouldn’t mind blitzing to really crowd that pocket, as long as we get hands up, get some deflected balls, that can give us some great plays as well (or obviously if the blitz gets home regularly).

  • http://www.facebook.com/lexnekst Lex Nekst

    Just want to point out to everyone that Vick is undefeated vs Lions and if I recall each game was a blowout. No matter the players or coaches. Vicks 1st 100yd rushing game of the season…this week.

    • http://twitter.com/benjabad Ben Hert

      I have a feeling that Vick and McCoy will abuse Avril coming off the edge. He is worse than Osi at sealing an edge, and that side will be open all day.

  • A_T_G

    I have no feel for this game. Partly because I don’t know much about the Lions, but also because I don’t know what OC and QB are going to show up. I hate that.

    • Mac

      With a beleaguered Lion’s secondary… I’m fairly confident that “Air Marty” will show up. If we get a solid performance from the O-line and support cast protecting Vick, this could be the first time our offense kicks into high gear.

      It does suck having to say “if” about Vick. But that is where we are.

      • GermanEagle

        I would say the “IF” about the O-Line is bigger!!!

        • Mac

          True. If our interior o-line can step up vs. Suh and co. it would go a long way toward building up confidence among us fans!

          • GermanEagle

            Totally agree. MV7 has not been playing the best football of his life, but TBH given the constant pressure he’s been facing not even Eli would do better. That’s just my 50 cents.

  • Julz

    Obviously this probably isn’t the right place but my word @JimZeel on twitter is a bit dim.

  • GermanEagle

    I still think we should call more blitzes!

    • Mac

      As much as I love blitzing, I’m not convinced that blitzing is the answer. I haven’t studied film (nor would it do anyone any good if I did) but the stuff that I have read suggests that most teams are scheming a combination of runs, short passes, and extra blockers to counter the pressure we generate with our front 4. As far as I know, those are also techniques used to counter the blitz, which might mean that it makes the most sense to leave all of our back 7 guys in coverage to clean up the trash from those short yardage plays and prevent them from becoming big plays.

      • GermanEagle

        I tend to agree. But the lack of sacks must be alarming. I know Tommy would disagree. But I cannot remember an Eagles D that has called as little blitzes as this year’s. Sometimes I get the feeling that Juan hopes that our D Line will get it done, but even when the opponent calls screens or short passes it wouldn’t harm if we call more blitzes, i.e. if we bring more pressure up front.
        That being said I really hope that DRC will be able to keep up with Megatron.

        • Mac

          It has been frustrating at times (see last weeks 3 and 12) when I am totally amped and ready for a sack and our guys don’t get home. Boykin should have the speed needed to blitz from the slot and Kendricks has proven to have the speed to blitz from the LB position. I’d like to see Juan go all in on a couple blitzes. I am very thankful that I’m not watching Trent Cole drop into coverage on 3rd and long like we were subjected to during the McDermott era.

  • austinfan

    One thing to remember, Lions are a dome team that has the home field advantage rushing QBs, but on the road, they can’t get that jump due to lack of crowd noise.

    @ SF 27 points, 349 yards
    @ Tenn 44 points 437 yards
    last year after the bye week
    @ NO 45 points 626 yards
    @ GB 45 points 550 yards
    @ Oak 25 points 477 yards
    @ NO 31 points 438 yards
    @ Chi 37 points 216 yards