Chicago Sun-Times

Scouting the Lions

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There’s been a lot of talk about the Bears being able to get pressure on Detroit QB Jon Kitna, and that’s absolutely imperative. But the Lions aren’t nearly as bad pass blocking as the nine sacks they allowed last Sunday at Philadelphia would indicate. Four of those sacks came in the fourth quarter when the game was helplessly out of reach and the Eagles were pinning their ears back and coming.

LT Jeff Backus is expected to make his 100th consecutive career start, but he injured a rib muscle in warmups at Philadelphia and was beaten for three sacks because he had no power in his left arm. Backus has healed up some, but DE Mark Anderson must take advantage of him. On the opposite side, veteran RT George Foster has already been penalized seven times, a David Terrell pace for being flagged. Seven of Foster’s penalties have been false starts.

One final thought on the Lions’ pass blocking ... Detroit quarterbacks have been sacked one every 9.2 pass attempts. Rex Grossman was sacked once every 10 pass attempts.

On defense, coach Rod Marinelli has been rotating just about everyone on the field but WLB Ernie Sims. Detroit took the obvious No. 2 choice in WR Calvin Johnson, who is being called a game-time decision with a back injury but it expected to play. But by going with a receiver in the first round for the fourth time in five drafts, the Lions ignored glaring needs on defense.

NT Shaun Rogers remains one of the dominant players in the league, and DT Cory Redding, who was signed to a longterm extension after being hit with the franchise tag, is a top talent when healthy. He’s battling groin and elbow injuries currently. LE Dewayne White, brought over from Tampa Bay, has been steady but unspectacular. Marinelli needs new parts pretty much everywhere else on defense, particularly in a porous secondary.

Detroit has struggled in the red zone on both sides of the ball. Because the line isn’t suited to run block, and coordinator Mike Martz treats run like it’s a four-letter word, things get bogged down close to the goalline for the Lions because they almost always have to throw the ball to score. With the field shortened, that’s a more difficult task. Defensively, Detroit ranks 31st in red zone defense. Opponents have scored eight touchdowns in 10 red-zone possessions. The Bears have not done well in the red zone on offense. They have two touchdowns in five red-zone trips.

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Sometimes change is a good thing and for the Bears, it could save their season and morale; even after only 3 games. The happiest person on offense will be Adrian Peterson. Up until now, Peterson has been burrowing a hole in the 'flats' waiting for the QB 'checkdown'. Griese will find him and this will open up the Bears offense.

Plus, expect Griese to scramble for 2-3 first downs which will open things even more. Griese's rushing stats will be something like 3-25 yds. with (2) 1st downs

Updated Stat: According to NBCs Al Michaels, Rex Grossman had (28) opportunites to run in the past(2)seasons:(22) were kneel-downs/fumbles, (3) were sneaks, and ONLY (3) were runs.

KEYS FOR THE LIONS GAME:

Phase 1:
OFFENSE: (IMPORTANT: RBs need to hold onto ball, WRs need to catch it!)
1. Ball control, run the clock, take what the defense gives you
2. Allow Griese to spread the ball around to all your weapons, find a rhythm and keep Bears defense off the field, and dominate the clock
3. O-Line needs to get off the ball, work together, and communicate better. (If you're hurt, tell the coaches and have someone else
play.................NO HEROES NEEDED!)
4. Pickup the free man on blitzes, keep the back in with his head on a swivel looking for the free man.
5. 2 or less turnovers

Phase 2:
DEFENSE:(IMPORTANT: PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE)
1. Limit YACs (yards after catches)...expect Jon Kitna to throw it up 50+ times
2. Confuse Kitna and Detroit O-line with different coverages, blitzes, & fronts
3. D-Line needs to use their quickness to get to the gaps fast against 'beat-up' Detroit O-Line and keep Kitna on the run ALL game.
4. Bully the Detroit WRs....don't miss any opportunity to hit them hard
5. Force 3 Detroit turnovers (1 for TD, Hillenmeyer?),6-8 sacks, 6+ tackles for a loss

Phase 3:
SPECIAL TEAMS: (MOST IMPORTANT: DEVIN HESTER NEEDS TO THINK AND NOT FUMBLE)
1. Go after the Detoit punter...force a bad/hurried punts
2. Utilize upmen on kickoffs to run squib kicks into Detroit territory
3. Pin Detroit in with avg. starting position at their own 18-22 yd. line
4. Brad Maynard needs to keep the ball up and average 40 yds/punt (Don't Outkick Coverage)
5. Robbie Gould needs to kickoff to goaline or within 5 yd. line and hit the critcial field goals (game tying FG with :00 left and winner in OT?)

Phase 4:
FANS:
1. Fans making the trip need to: Be heard, show your support
2. : Bring some enthusiasm
3. : Don't sit on your hands
4. Fans in Chicago need: Not quit and believe
5. : Drown out all Lions fans, Remind them they're from Detroit

If Bears can hit 3/5 on each of these areas, expect:

Bears 23 Lions 20 (OT)

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 29, 2007 12:15 PM.

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