NFL Analysis: 5 Things Detroit Lions Need to Fix in Seasons Second Half
The Detroit Lions' euphoria over a 5-0 start has now ended rather abruptly.
With the team now sitting at 5-2 after consecutive home losses, there are some clear issues that have become apparent.
In the preseason, it seemed almost unimaginable to suggest Detroit would struggle stopping the run, but that is exactly the case midway through the season.
The ridiculous numbers being posted by superstar receiver Calvin Johnson may take up most of the headlines, but for the Lions to win in the second half of the season there are five key areas that must be addressed.
5. Kick Returning
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The Lions' return game has been a non-factor this entire season both on kickoffs and punts.
Stefan Logan is a dangerous weapon, but he is yet to make any big plays to help the offense with field position.
On 11 kickoff return attempts he has just 291 total yards and his longest return was for only 32 yards.
The new kickoff rules are certainly difficult, but even on punts Logan is averaging a mere 8.7 yards a return, with his longest return going for only 20 yards.
Logan has the speed to be a serious weapon and he must improve in the second half of the season.
Giving the offense better starting field position can go a long way towards winning close games.
4. The Lions Are Losing at Home
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The Detroit Lions won their first two home games and in rather impressive fashion each time.
But since then, they have lost two straight within the friendly confines of Ford Field.
The Lions have to do a better job of protecting their turf in the second half of the season.
Detroit fans have proved to be some of the most raucous in the league, causing numerous false start penalties against the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers in particular.
Detroit must take advantage of that as they still have matchups at home with the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, and a huge Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers.
The Lions can ill-afford to split those games as they did in the first half of the season.
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The Detroit Lions have continued to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot by committing so many penalties.
The Lions are fourth worst in the NFL with 57 penalties for 475 yards.
The fact that they are 5-2 is a testament to the quick-strike ability of the offense and their ability to overcome stupid mistakes.
False starts and holding calls are easily fixable problems and Detroit needs to address those issues to win games in the campaign's second half.
2. The Entire Running Game
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The Lions running game has had every problem imaginable this season.
They lost Mikel LeShoure before the season even started, had a trade for Ronnie Brown blocked and lost Jahvid Best to another concussion.
These are serious blows, but they do not excuse Detroit for averaging 92 rushing yards per game.
Even when healthy, Best was only great against the Chicago Bears. His inconsistency, coupled with nobody else emerging out of the Lions crowded backfield, has forced the offense to pass far too often.
It is a showcase of how impressive the passing attack is that this team is 5-2 despite having the 27th ranked running game in all of football.
A balanced attack is often considered the key to a championship and at this point Detroit is completely one-sided.
Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are an exceptional duo, but they can't be expected to carry the load for every remaining game this season.
1. Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game
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No one would of guessed it in the preseason but the Lions pass defense has far outplayed their rush defense so far this season.
Opponents are rushing for 129 yards per game against Detroit, making them the 29th lowest ranked unit in the NFL.
Frank Gore and Michael Turner each had at least 122 yards against the Lions in the last two weeks.
Consuming the clock and keeping the Lions' high powered offense off the field appears to be a great blueprint to beating them.
So Detroit must get better at stopping the run.
They clearly have the weapons to do so.
Standouts Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch have all had great moments this season, and rookie Nick Fairley should finally be getting comfortable in the rotation.
Now the unit as a whole needs to stay dedicated to run defense for four quarters.
If they don't then teams will continue to follow the plans laid out by the 49ers and Falcons.