Cleat Geeks

The Lion of Scrimmage: What Do We Really Know About This Lions Team?

If you’re having trouble figuring out this Lions team then you’re not alone. Detroit has been one of the most up and down teams in the NFL this year. After looking lost last week against a bad Bears defense, the offense threw three passing touchdowns in the first half against an Eagles defense who hadn’t allowed a passing touchdown all season, and then proceeded to look terrible in the second half. So after watching this team for more than a month of regular season action, here’s what I think we know for sure.

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

1) Stafford is as good in this offense as we’d hoped he’d be

After a strong finish to the season under new offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, people were hoping that the new found success wasn’t a fluke. So far Stafford has proven it was not. The veteran QB is thriving like we saw in the second half of last year. He has a completion percentage of nearly 67% and has thrown three touchdown passes in three of the five games this season. Granted the touchdown to interception ratio hasn’t been as good as expected, with seven TD’s to our INT’s, that has not been a reflection of his overall performance this year. Look for him to keep putting up big numbers as the year goes on.

2) Teryl Austin is getting the most out of his players

The Lions defense has been very banged up to start the year. Pro Bowl caliber players like DeAndre Levy and Ziggy Ansah have missed most of the season to date. Despite this, Detroit’s defense is holding things together fairly well overall. In three of the five games the Lions have allowed less than 24 points, including two games where the opponent didn’t score more than 17. Players with no real track record of success, like Kenny Hyder and Kyle Van Noy have stepped up in a big way for this defense. For that I give a lot of credit to coach Austin and the defensive staff. They have made a functional defense out of nearly nothing.bobquinlions

3) So far I have been wrong about Bob Quin

I have been very critical of the new Lions GM in the early days of his tenure. I have said many times that I was not impressed with his draft and that he didn’t do enough in free agency. Well, don’t I feel like an idiot five games into the season. Most everyone from the drat is contributing in some form, whether it’s Decker and Glasgow who have solved a lot of problems on the left side of the offensive line or guys like Robinson and Williams who have become critical depth players on the defense. Then of course there is Marvin Jones, the team’s big free agent signing. I though he was a nice addition when Quin brought him in, but that he was pretty expensive for what he was. Considering he has been one of the top receivers in the NFL this year that contract looks like a bargain now. I’m happy to say that Quin has made me look like a fool through five weeks this year.

4) The OLine is looking much better

To just about everyone’s surprise, the Lions have shown they can run the ball effectively this year. Ameer Abdullah was having great success before going on IR following week two. Now we are seeing Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner and even rookie Dwayne Washington find some room to work with on the ground. A lot of this can be attributed to the improvements made on the offensive line. While I believe this group is still coming together, they have been much better than last year as a unit. The pass protection has been improved as well, which is reflected in how well Matthew Stafford has thrown the ball. Taylor Decker is going through his share of growing pains, but he has been pretty solid as a rookie left tackle overall. I believe that the best is yet to come from this group.

5) There are still a lot of holes to fill on defense.

dariusslaylionsWhile the Lions defense has been better than expected considering who’s out, they still have a long way to go. The depth at linebacker has looked very thin. This group has been abused in the passing game time and again this year, with no one showing they can cover the tight end. Corner has also looked like a position of need for most of the year. Darius Slay is still great, but he can’t be everywhere at ones. Lawson and Diggs seem to be beaten with regularity. The pass rush from the defensive line has been lacking a lot of times as well. Realistically the Lions could use some upgrades at every level of the defense and this unit will probably hold them back from the playoffs this season.

6) Lack of a super star play makers limits the offense at times.

The Lions offense is usually not the problem with this team. However, there are times when they just can’t seem to move the ball. While I like that they get everybody involved and will dink and dunk down the field in this system, the big play seems to be lacking most of the time. There isn’t a guy on the team who is just a match up nightmare and can strike at any given time. Without a guy to take the top off the opposing defense, things can seem congested at times for the Detroit offense. This could limited them from making big comebacks or getting a necessary quick strike late in the game.

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