After roaring out to a 5-0 start, the new pride of Motown absorbed its first loss last week against the San Francisco 49ers. The loss along with the minor post-game fracas between the Jims—Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz and San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh—knocked the kitties off their stride.
The Lions are hoping to find it again this week with the Dirty Birds coming to town.
The NFC North is no place for extended losing streaks, what with the Green Bay Packers atop the division, undefeated and showing no signs of slowing down. So Detroit needs to get its house in order quickly and what better opportunity to do so than with an inconsistent opponent visiting?
Thus far, however, Atlanta has put up a stiff challenge and is hanging around, trying to steal a win. With these five halftime adjustments, Detroit will be able to stop that from happening:
1. Protect Quarterback Matt Stafford
Holy smoke, what's going on with the Detroit offensive line?
The protection isn't terrible, but every few snaps, it's like there's an Atlanta jail break as one or two Falcons fly at Stafford almost untouched. Considering most of the pressure is being generated by four-or-five-man fronts, it seems the only adjustment that needs to be made is for the offensive line to do its job.
2. Remember That Aggression Doesn't Require Stupidity
Ndamukong Suh is a holy freakin' terror on the gridiron, about that there is no doubt. However, he needs to wise up—he and the fans can moan all they want, but the dude is gonna get flagged every time he hits a QB in the head.
He picked up a personal foul for such carelessness in the first quarter that didn't end up hurting his team, but you only get so many mulligans.
The Lions also seemed to get overanxious and out of their lanes on a kickoff return for touchdown that was nullified by an illegal block in the back.
Detroit needs to dial it back if it can't stay as aggressive while staying under control.
3. Put the "Special" Back in Special Teams
I already mentioned the kickoff return for touchdown by Atlanta that got called back, but even without that particular jaunt, Falcons return man Eric Weems is having a field day. He's racked up, I don't know, a thousand yards in the first half and almost broke a punt return for six.
Detroit needs to cover its kicks with better discipline or risk giving the game away.
4. Bring Calvin Johnson Out of WITSEC
Is Megtron hurt? Did he jelly out of Matt Stafford's doughnut? I'm very curious because there has to be some juicy story to explain why Detroit is basically ignoring its all-world wide receiver.
Whatever the reason, that needs to change. Now. If not sooner.
And don't give me, "he's covered." Calvin Johnson cannot be covered.
5. More Keiland Williams, Less Everyone Else
The Lions are missing their primary running back, Jahvid Best, who's out with post-concussion symptoms or syndrome (whatever we're calling it these days). Minus the explosive water bug, Detroit has been going with a mishmash of Williams, Maurice Morris and even a carry for wide receiver Nate Burleson.
Forget all that nonsense.
Williams is the only one running with authority and a little burst. Keep going to that well as it's the only one producing.