Detroit Lions' Rushing Woes Fall On Scott Linehan Not Kevin Smith

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterOctober 7, 2009

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 04: Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears tackles Kevin Smith #34 of the Detroit Lions by his shoe on October 4, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 48-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Kevin Smith rushed for 30 yards last week.

On 19 carries.


Certainly a lot of blame is to be shared. Also, a lot of credit is due to the Bears defense. However, for much of the second half, the Bears—sitting in a cover two—played the pass and left running lanes wide open.

The Lions were unable to capitalize.

While some of the blame must go to the Lions backs, the bulk of it must rest solely on the play calling and game planning of Scott Linehan.

At halftime, Lovie Smith made a decision. He was going to make Kevin Smith beat his team. The Bears would sit in a deep cover two, but let Charles Tillman shadow Calvin Johnson.

Think of it this way: In basketball, you can either let LeBron James beat you or you can shut him down and hope no one else gets hot. That is what Lovie Smith was hoping for, to shut Calvin Johnson down and hope no one else gets on a roll. 

However, the Lions played right into his hands.

Rather than go to their second most talented offensive star, Kevin Smith, the Lions put the ball in the hands of their rookie quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Stafford has little experience going against the cover two defense and found little room through the air.

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The Lions also played right into the hands of the Bears defense, letting Stafford drop back, putting him at the mercy of the Bears pass rush.

Back to the basketball analogy—when you double LeBron James, he learns to set up his teammates. He finds the open man.

On the field on Sunday, Kevin Smith was the open man and the soft zone as the MLB backpedaled, was his open three-point jumper. Scott Linehan should have been shouting for that play to happen. But he didn't, and it didn't.

To start the third quarter, Detroit went punt, punt, fumble, punt.

During that time, Stafford was sacked three times and took a snap from shotgun seven times. In that same period, the Lions did not attempt a single run to the heart of the Bears defense. The 10 rush yards in the third quarter were acquired on five carries, all off tackle.

So rather than finding the open jumper, Scott Linehan tried strength on strength.

It didn't work.

Boy did it not work.

Running away from Lance Briggs is never a good idea. Running at the empty space in front of a back peddling Nick Roach is a great idea.

Furthermore, the play calling after the Johnny Knox touchdown seemed frantic. From that point on, Scott Linehan called 29 passes and nine rushes—playing right into Lovie Smith's hands.

Halftime adjustments have been the story of the Lions' 2009 season.

As of right now, they're not making them.

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