Detroit Lions: 5 Things We Hope the Lions Fixed in Their Bye Week
The Detroit Lions (6-2) success this season does not mean they can ignore their flaws.
This is a team that has immense problems with the running game, both offensively and defensively.
Now as the Lions prepare for the season's second half, they have a difficult schedule in front of them.
With so many tough games in front of Detroit, here are five keys that were hopefully fixed during the Lions bye week.
No. 5: Nate Burleson's Involvement
Nate Burleson is a good receiver that is yet to make his presence felt this season.
The easy excuse to make is that it doesn't matter because Calvin Johnson is having such a great season and the team is winning.
But No. 13 is too talented a player to spend the entire year in Johnson's shadow. Burleson has 26 catches for 245 yards and a touchdown so far this season.
A mere 30 yards receiving per game is not good enough for a player of Burleson's caliber, and hopefully the Lions found ways to get him more involved during the bye week.
No. 4: Kick and Punt Returns
Stefan Logan has disappeared this season.
After breaking out in the return game last year, he has been non-factor through the first half of this year.
The new kickoff rules may play a small factor, but other return men are still making an impact.
Logan, however, has no kick returns of longer than 32 yards. His punt returns have been just as bad: Logan is averaging 8.9 yards per punt return and his longest was for only 20 yards.
Better field position would be an obvious benefit to the Lions offense going forward, and Logan has the ability to provide that spark.
No. 3: Poor Rush Defense
The Lions have one of the most highly-touted defensive fronts in all of football. The problem is that they have developed the inability to stop the run.
They have no issue getting to opposing quarterbacks—the Lions have 24 sacks through eight games.
But Detroit is giving up 137 rushing yards per game, 28th worst in the NFL. This is a problem that needed to be addressed during the bye week, because the talent is already in place to find a solution.
The defensive line will have their hands full right out of the break as the Lions play the Bears in Week 10.
Matt Forte rushed for 116 yards in Chicago and Detroit's Week 5 meeting.
No. 2: Penchant for Penalties
The Lions have committed 61 offensive penalties already this season, 8th worst in the NFL.
Silly mistakes like false starts and holding calls can only hurt this team moving forward.
We need only to look at the Lions and Bears Week 5 meeting to understand this concept.
The Bears had 359 yards of total offense but only managed one touchdown because they spent so much time going backwards.
Chicago had nine false start penalties in that game.
Detroit can learn from the Bears mistakes to ensure they don't have problems with the yellow flags moving forward.
The Lions have been lucky that penalties have not caused them many games, but continuing to make mistakes can catch up to this team eventually if they do not address the problem.
No. 1: The Running Game
The Lions have been able to win this season not because of their rushing attack, but rather in spite of it.
Detroit is averaging 95.3 yards per game on the ground, 27th worst in the NFL.
Jahvid Best is hurt with a concussion, yet even when healthy he had only one great performance against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
The inadequate staple of running backs has included Best, Keiland Williams and Jerome Harrison.
Re-signing former starter Kevin Smith only highlights the desperation Detroit has at the position.
Hopefully something clicked for this unit during the bye week. The passing game is clearly elite, but it is tough to find continued success in the NFL without a balanced offensive attack.