Detroit Lions: Key to Today's Opener Is All About Defense

Jay WierengaCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2011

DETROIT - OCTOBER 31: Kyle Vanden Bosch #93 of the Detroit Lions hits Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins during the first quarter of the game at Ford Field on October 31, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

So we are only a short period of time before kickoff. The long wait for the unveiling of our beloved Detroit Lions is finally upon us.

So now that we are here, what do we do about it?

The offense doesn't appear to be a problem. Matthew Stafford, as long as he remains healthy, will likely pick this defense apart with relative ease.

Sure, the running game might struggle somewhat, but the short passing game could render that somewhat meaningless.

The true key to this game is defense.

The straw that stirred the Bucs' drink last year was LeGarrette Blount and the running game.

During the second half of the season, he was a one-man wrecking crew, churning through defenses in true "beast mode" fashion.

This opened up the conservative passing game and allowed quarterback Josh Freeman to have a very good year.

The Lions know what their weaknesses are on defense. They sometimes over-pursue in trying to get to the quarterback, and this leaves them susceptible to the running game. They also lack strong cornerbacks.

Against a team like New England that doesn't have much of a running game, that is okay. Even a team like the New York Jets has inconsistency running the ball, so it allowed the Lions to key in on the passing game of Mark Sanchez last year.

But a true strong running team like Tampa Bay could pose problems for the Lions this year.

There are two ways to combat this. One, the Lions can choose to play more conservatively on defense, and stuff blocks instead of shed them. This will allow the linebackers to fill, and the safeties can stay back and help the corners.

Or two, the Lions can say screw it and just try to outscore the Bucs. Tampa does not have a potent offense, so this approach could work. They will not be able to match the Lions offense punch for punch.

But this could cause the Lions problems down the road.

Therefore, the first option is probably the best. This means Ndamukong Suh and Kyle VandenBosch need to tweak their approach today and focus on the run.

This will allow the rest of the defense to not over-extend to stop the run, therefore the play action will not be nearly as effective.

That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing the offense put up some fireworks!