Even after a win, the Lions can't relax.
As I said in last week's progress report, virtually every game is a playoff game for Detroit from here on out.
Mark one must-win down as won and move on to the next. Jacksonville shouldn't be too hard a game, but the Jaguars gave the Green Bay Packers a run for their money, so they cannot be taken lightly. Then it's off to Minnesota for a little revenge on the Vikings.
The Lions have to take it one game at a time, though, and make sure they are focused every week.
Here are a few things they will want to work on as we head into Week 9.
Defensive Line Pressure
No sacks against a very mediocre line—that shouldn't have happened, though in their defense, Russell Wilson is elusive and Marshawn Lynch kept them on their toes.
Still, the line has had issues getting consistent pressure, and last week saw more of the same. Sometimes they are able to get into the backfield and cause havoc, but sometimes it seems like they couldn't find the backfield with a GPS.
Jacksonville has allowed 20 sacks this year so far (6th most in the league) and 38 QB hits (8th worst in the league). The Lions should be able to get on Blaine Gabbert early and often, and with Maurice Jones-Drew out and Rashard Jennings relatively ineffective so far in his place, the ground game shouldn't hinder them like it did against Seattle.
Run Game? What Run Game?
I saw something—it might have been on Twitter but I can't recall right now—that suggested the Lions could use newly acquired Mike Thomas out of the backfield, sort of like what they envisioned Jahvid Best's role would be.
It sounds nuts, but given the direct snap-happy plays for guys like Jeremy Kerley, Randall Cobb and the like, it could be a smart use of Thomas.
Because as much as I like Mikel Leshoure, he isn't an all-purpose back and doesn't quite have the explosion of guys like Best or Cobb or Kerley, nor their pure ability to make a guy miss with the ball in his hands.
Now, I'm not sure Thomas has that really. Just an interesting thought that brings up the question: What happened to the run game?
The Lions aren't committing to it, that's for sure, as Leshoure hasn't topped 15 carries more than once since his debut in Week 3.
Sometimes, that's because the Lions have fallen behind, but a lot of the time it's just a play-calling choice.
Some will say Leshoure's just not good enough to warrant more carries, but right now, he averages four yards per carry. It's not fantastic, but it's not horrific either.
Maybe committing to the run a bit more will help settle Stafford down by keeping his offensive line from getting him crushed.
Of course, that line still needs to run-block.
The Lions head to Week 9 with a little momentum, and hopefully they can carry that forward against the Jaguars.
There is still plenty of time to get the ship righted—and plenty of time to turn the season around.
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