Lions Weekly Progress Report: D-Line, Offense Face Big Challenge in Week 7

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 30: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions rushes the passer as Brandon Fusco #63 of the Minnesota Vikings attempts to make the block during the game at Ford Field on September 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Vikings defeated the Lions 20-13.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Despite a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, we still have multiple questions about the defensive line and the sluggish start of the offense.

With a vital game against the Chicago Bears this week, the Lions had better find their answers fast. 

The game against Philadelphia helped with the lack of turnovers, with two interceptions via Michael Vick and a fumble, but the Lions couldn't score even one point off them.

Vick was sacked three times by the defense as well.

The Lions' defensive front seven will have another chance against a shaky offensive line when they travel to Chicago to face the Bears.

It's all about momentum for this defense and ultimately, they'll need to gather some against the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars before facing Minnesota again, followed by the Packers twice, the Houston Texans, the Atlanta Falcons and the Bears again over the course of the last 10 games.

The Lions defense has been a problem, and while they get their sacks, they haven't been playing as well as the team had expected.

If they are to recover from an abysmal start, the defense needs to step up a notch, especially in division play.

The other big issue remaining from last week is the sluggish pace of the offense.

Matthew Stafford and friends have been kicking games off as if they have all the time in the world, and it often puts them behind the eight ball by the half and is a big reason why they have lost as many games as they have.

They played better in the final quarter against the Eagles, but against teams like the Bears, Packers and Texans that's going to be too little too late.

It's hard to put a finger on what is wrong with the offense. Some have said it's Stafford's preoccupation with Calvin Johnson. From a targets standpoint, he is 12 targets above the next two players (Brandon Pettigrew with 42 and Nate Burleson with 40). 

However, while Stafford does look to Johnson in crunch time, that's to be expected. He could be slightly more judicious in his selection of the elite wide receiver, but one can hardly fault him for throwing at the best receiver in football.

It just seems as if early on in a game the offense is out of sync. That shouldn't be happening at this point in the year, especially when they aren't running a newly installed offense. 

Perhaps running the ball more, establishing the tempo that way and imposing their will on the ground would help. As it stands, the run-to-pass ratio is about a 2:1. That's not horribly out of whack, but running it earlier could help.

The offense faces an incredibly stiff challenge against the Bears—and only the first of many, as a lot of the teams listed above with tough offenses have equally tough defenses.

The Lions head towards this weekend with some doubt as to what they are capable of and the chance to not only prove they are who they thought they were, but make up some ground on a division rival as well.

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