Lions Have to Go After Cutler, Feed Johnson to Beat the Bears

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is sacked by Justin Durant #52 and Stephen Tulloch #55 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on October 22, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 13-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This Sunday, the Detroit Lions will have one last chance to show up and play like they still have pride.

It hasn't worked out for the last seven games, but perhaps the eighth time's the charm?

They've been in a few close losses, but the last two—Arizona and Atlanta—weren't close at all, and now they have a desperate Bears team showing up to Detroit needing a win to even have a chance to make the playoffs.

It's not hopeless for Detroit, though, and the Lions can win this game.

There are two specific things—one on the offensive side and one of the defensive side—which they have to do in order to win.

Offensively, they need to play conservative. Now, I realize that Calvin Johnson's attempt at 2,000 yards is in the balance and with so little positive events this season, they don't want to miss it.

However, conservative doesn't mean "ignoring Calvin," and, in fact, since they have nobody else worth much at receiver, he kind of has to be involved pretty heavily.

What I mean by conservative is, protect the ball and don't take foolish chances.

If that sounds like a shot across Matt Stafford's bow, you wouldn't be wrong.

Stafford cannot make a mistake against the Bears' secondary. If he does, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings will destroy him.

So yes, get the ball to Johnson, but be smart. Set your feet. Adjust your release point. Double-check the field for defenders.

Even when Stafford throws the ball well, he's making too many mistakes and that can't happen on Sunday.

If the offense plays conservative, the defense needs to be more reckless, specifically the defensive line.

And that does not mean recklessly as in stupid. It means recklessly as in, "we have nothing to lose," and recklessly as in, "we have to stop Cutler."

Basically, it means recklessly as in, "we can keep Chicago out of the playoffs."

The secondary for the Lions has been an issue all season long, so it's up to the front line to get things done. We know the Bears' offensive line is shaky, and we know that Jay Cutler sometimes implodes when under relentless pressure.

If there is one thing this defense can do, it's bring relentless pressure.

They cannot match the Bears receivers in coverage, so they have to prevent passes from being completed in the first place.

You do that by getting to Cutler.

The Lions haven't had a good season, which is a statement up for "most understated comment of the year." They can end it on a high note, though, and send the Bears home without a playoff berth—which, while not the best case scenario back in August, would be at least a bit fulfilling now.


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