I proposed five things to watch during the Detroit Lions’ game against the Minnesota Vikings that might help tell the tale. Now, let’s take a quick look back at each of the five things to see how they played out in yesterday’s game.
1. Sacks Allowed
Simply looking at the box score suggest the Lions made no improvement whatsoever in protecting Matthew Stafford compared to their first meeting with the Vikings but the sacks didn’t come as a result of a suffocating pass rush like they did previously. Matthew Stafford had a tendency to hold on to the ball too long rather than getting rid of it. Give him enough time and Jared Allen will get to the quarterback eventually. Pocket awareness and the ability to buy more time with his feet might be the next area for improvement in his game as he continues to improve as a quarterback.
2. Lions Running Game
The Lions managed 52 more rushing yards in this game than they did in Minnesota but that unfortunately only brings their total up to 72. The 3.4 yards per carry average is below where it needs to be, even for a team that is ok with being a pass-first offense. A more effective running game likely means the Lions are able to burn more clock to keep the Vikings comeback from reaching the point it did. The Lions don’t need to be a juggernaut on the ground but it is disappointing to see them unable to control the ball on the ground when it would be beneficial based on the game situation.
3. Greeting the Rookie
It didn’t take long for the Lions to rudely greet Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Cliff Avril got around the end for a strip sack and Stephen Tulloch recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Ponder had been sacked three times and intercepted three times by the time he was yanked in favor of Joe Webb. I approve.
4. Jason Hanson
Jason Hanson got back on track with two short field goals. His performance has never been a big concern of mine but his last few weeks have been uncharacteristic of what we’ve come to expect from the veteran kicker. Hanson has had plenty of distance when he tries to really put a leg into his kickoffs but a couple seemed to have just a little bit more than usual on Sunday.
5. Stupid Penalties
The Lions committed ten penalties on the day but they were the “typical” variety rather than the silly outbursts of emotion that suggested the team was out of control. There were no scrums after the whistle or taunting of the opponent. With the stupid penalties after the whistle hopefully out of the picture the Lions can go about correcting the mistakes that occur during play