Lions vs. Jaguars: Detroit Needs to Keep Offensive Momentum Going in Week 9
Some of it might have been coming in flat, something the Lions won't worry about because their backs are against the wall and unlikely to come off said wall until the end of the year.
So they can't take their foot off the gas as they finally seemed to get the offense going last week, and they especially need to keep that going.
Let's see what they need to do to avoid stumbling like Green Bay last week and making this closer than it should be.
When the Lions are on Offense
They got Titus Young and Ryan Broyles involved last week, and that needs to continue against the Jaguars. The Jacksonville pass rush, while not nonexistent, isn't great. Matt Stafford should have plenty of time to find his receivers.
Stafford finally looked comfortable under center last week, which resulted in a sharper game than he's played in some time.
It wasn't perfect, but it was much better.
Getting Broyles and Young involved early and often will ease the pressure on Calvin Johnson, who, frankly, looks less like Megatron and more like Starscream right now.
He dropped a pass in the end zone last week. That's not just unusual, it's downright shocking.
It won't happen again, but I believe it happened in part because he's frustrated with the struggles he's had this year, especially in the red zone.
Until last week, teams could triple cover him and not pay any price for it. If Young and Broyles continue to play like they did last week, it will start to be a whole different story.
Get Brandon Pettigrew involved, too. In fact, while I wouldn't completely ignore Johnson early, I'd hit other receivers pretty frequently to get in the head of the Jaguars.
They'll always cover Johnson tightly, but you can make them ease up if the other receivers are killing them.
There's no point in shutting Johnson down if you are giving up a ton of points to everyone else.
It's a dress rehearsal that matters, and if it starts to work, it can work against better defenses too, with tweaks here and there.
When the Lions are on Defense
Plain and simple, get to Blaine Gabbert. He isn't being asked to do too much right now, because he has few weapons and no offensive line. Once upon a time you had to worry about Maurice Jones-Drew, but he's hurt and Rashard Jennings has been unimpressive.
So the Lions can tee off on Gabbert. For all his faults, and he has many, Gabbert has some talent. He's raw and sloppy but has upside.
Gabbert, as with any young quarterback, doesn't always react well to pressure, so Ndamukong Suh and company should get their hands on him as often as possible.
Cecil Shorts has had two good games in a row, so the Lions secondary will want to make sure he stays contained. Chris Houston will probably get that job most of the time.
The overall secondary has been decimated by injury, and that's not hyperbole. Jacob Lacey is hurt, Chris Greenwood is on the PUP, and Dwight Bentley and Drayton Florence are on IR. Among the safeties, Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey are both banged up.
Luckily they don't face a team that can sling it on every down, nor will they be facing the Vikings again next week. They'll want to get healthy facing Houston and Green Bay after that, though.
For now, the Lions should be able to get by with the beat-up group they currently have.
Getting that pass rush going and keeping Gabbert from getting comfortable will go a long way toward making the secondary's life easier.
There is no such thing as a sure thing (except maybe playing Kansas City), so the Lions can't take this game lightly and look ahead to getting revenge against the Vikings next week.
However, this is a game the Lions should win. A solid effort and fine tuning some things should pay off in the coming weeks.
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