Detroit Lions: 4 of the Biggest Mistakes the Front Office Has Made in 2011
Through the first half of the season the Detroit Lions front office has made some mistakes that will hinder their chance of becoming a playoff team or making a playoff run. At 6-2, the Lions have surprised many, but with the roster they have, they aren't set up to make a deep playoff run.
Martin Mayhew is a great General Manager, probably one of the best in the NFL, but here are four mistakes him and the front office has made so far this season.
Finding a Servicable Backup to Jahvid Best
When Mikel Leshoure went down with an injury, the Lions should have found a serviceable backup for Jahvid Best. With Maurice Morris on the roster along with the signings of Jerome Harrison and Keiland Williams, the Lions were not prepared enough for when Jahvid Best got hurt.
With the injury to Best and Harrison the Lions are now left with Morris, who is averaging 4.0 yards per carry, Keiland Williams, who is averaging 3.0 yards per carry, and the recently acquired Kevin Smith, who has a career average of 3.8.
The Lions are currently 27th in the league with a 4.1 yards per carry average and 762 yards rushing through their first eight games and tied for 23rd with only four touchdowns. Although their passing game has overshadowed the weakness in the running game, this wont last very long.
When the weather turns and the offense is forced to run to win games, this running game wont get it done. What would have been the perfect situation is if Willis McGahee decided to come to the Lions, but they did not push hard enough to bring him in.
If Jahvid Best can not come back healthy this season, the Lions will struggle down the stretch and will likely fade if they make it to the playoffs, because they can't run the ball. Mayhew might be forced to make a trade down the stretch if the Lions really want to make a playoff push.
Signing a Secondary Receiver to Calvin Johnson
Nate Burleson is clearly not the answer for the Lions No. 2 wide receiver position. With only 26 catches and 245 yards through eight games, Burleson has faded as an offensive weapon for Matthew Stafford. Titus Young only has 19 catches but has 275 yards and is slowly taking over for Burleson.
Both of these players are serviceable NFL wide receivers, and Titus Young might even grow to be a solid No. 2 to Calvin, but right now neither are really taking away from the double and triple coverage that Calvin Johnson is getting.
I still think that Terrell Owens would be a great signing for the Lions. He would complement the skills of Johnson perfectly and allow Young and Burleson to move to their natural slot positions. Owens could set the great Lions pass offense over the top and make them even more dangerous when they go to the air.
If Burleson and Young don't start to play better, fans and writers will look back and blame Mayhew and the front office for not finding a better secondary wide receiver to Calvin.
Haven't Bolstered Their Run Blocking for the Offensive Line
There is no doubt the Lions have a pretty good pass blocking offensive line. Matthew Stafford has been sacked 16 times good for 17th in the league. Their run blocking has been anemic though so far this season. With minimal holes, it is hard to get your running game going, especially with Jahvid Best hurt.
The Lions did just sign Leonard Davis and he could be an answer, replacing Stephen Peterman, but looking forward, the offensive line needs to start opening up some holes for the running game.
Peterman leads the offensive line already with four penalties for 45 yards, including two holding penalties, and Godser Cherilus is right behind him with three penalties for 30 yards, including one holding and one false start. After accumulating 11 penalties last year for 88 yards, Peterman is right on track to match his totals and finish another dismal season starting at guard for the Lions.
If Davis cannot overtake Peterman as the starting right guard, Mayhew will be blamed for not finding a superior replacement as Peterman is clearly not getting it done, especially creating holes for the running game.
Cutting Jerome Felton and Not Signing a Fullback
Corey Schlesinger plowed open holes for Barry Sanders for years, helping him eclipse well over 1000 yards, season after season. Jerome Felton was released before the season to open up roster space for other positions, but with the weak rushing offensive line, it is looking like we could use him.
With players such as Vonta Leach, LeRon McClain, Marcel Reece and Lawrence Vickers becoming free agents after last season, the Lions failed to jump and sign any of them and instead decided to not even carry a fullback on their roster. Any of these players would have bolstered their run game, but instead the Lions are forced into running single back sets without a much needed lead blocker.
Not having a full back is a mistake by Martin Mayhew and the front office, as the run game has suffered greatly this season without one.
A continuing theme of this slideshow is the fact that the Lions cannot run the ball. Martin Mayhew has put too much faith in Matthew Stafford and his pass offense, we will see if this strategy will work for the rest of the season. This is a huge mistake and teams will surely make adjustments in the second half of the season to defend it.