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Detroit Lions Progress Report: Where Do They Stand Heading into Week 6?

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

It was a bit ugly going into the break.

The Lions dropped three straight games after a win against St Louis, and nothing much seems to be going right.

As we move out of the bye week and toward a tough matchup against the Eagles, has anything changed during the bye week?

Well, we've found out a few things, and there are definitely more unresolved issues.

They got called out this week—the question is, how do they respond?

 

Titus Young is Hurt and More Offensive Tidbits

That's not completely the reason he's been so bad to open the season, but it isn't helping. Consider this the tip of the iceberg in terms of the offense. Nate Burleson is playing fine, but without Young, I think this team lacks a complementary threat to Calvin Johnson, who is, frankly, struggling to find the end zone these days.

That's in part because Young (and Brandon Pettigrew, who has been up and down so far) isn't a credible threat. If Ryan Broyles gets up to speed, perhaps he can be that guy but the Lions were expecting it from Young. Because it isn't materializing, the offense is having trouble scoring touchdowns.

So the sooner Young can shake the knee issue, the sooner this offense will start looking coherent again.

The Eagles are a tough matchup (we'll cover that tomorrow), but they can be beat.

They need Young to step it up, though.

Speaking of stepping up, Mikel Leshoure needs to as well. Matt Stafford is having to throw the ball far too often.  It's another way to pull some coverage off Johnson as well and make the Eagles (or anyone else) pay if they just defend the pass with a couple safeties deep to assist in shutting down the receivers.

Leshoure was up and down in his first few games. He has to get consistent. 

We did hear this week that Jahvid Best might be back, which should make most fans excited, and more than a few nervous I expect. He'd add a different dimension to this offense. 

Overall, this offense needs to really step up its pace and execution, and that certainly hasn't changed since two weeks ago and the loss to the Vikings.

 

Where in the World Is the Defense?

The defense is middle of the road in terms of sacks, which in and of itself should register some surprise among fans.

This defensive line was supposed to be terribly dangerous, but the flaw was always that it could be overaggressive and get beat because of it. That's definitely happening, but it isn't an explanation about how the defense has played the last few weeks.

While it's easy to pin the special teams with the blame for the last two losses—and they deserve some, to be sure—they aren't the only reason this team has lost.

The defensive line has fallen short of expectations, and they hopefully have figured out how to turn that around.

The secondary, save for Chris Houston, has also fallen short of expectations, and while it isn't the end-all, be-all of stats, they have generated zero turnovers.

To a wider point, the entire defense has one turnover, a fumble. That's it.

You don't win games with just turnovers, and you can win without them, but 1) you're making your life harder than it needs to be and 2) you will lose more than you win if you can't generate turnovers.

The Eagles coming to town might help this, but if this team doesn't come out of the game with some Mike Vick-supplied turnovers, it could be ugly.

 

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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