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.