The Detroit Lions have looked a lot more cohesive on offense over their last two games. It’s easy to look that way when sustaining drives and controlling the clock and that’s exactly what the Lions did against the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars.
While working on his weekly NFC North quarterback report, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert tweeted out the following:
Working on QB Report. Stafford on third down past two games: 23 of 27. #Lions
— Kevin Seifert (@espn_nfcnblog) November 5, 2012
That’s a healthy completion percentage just above 85%. But the ultimate goal of a third down play isn’t to just complete a pass, it is to pick up a first down.
Lions fans that endured the Joey Harrington era will recall that Harrington was perfectly capable of completing a third down pass. The only problem was that when needing eight yards, the completion often went for five. When needing five, it often went for three. The pass was completed but the ultimate result was failure.
What makes Stafford’s work on third downs over the last two weeks so impressive is that those completions have often led to first downs allowed drives to continue.
The Lions converted on 12 of 16 third downs against the Seahawks and followed up that performance by converting 8 of 12 against the Jaguars. In total, the Lions have converted third down chances into first downs at a 71.4% clip over the last two weeks. For comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league at 51.3% on the year.
The Lions now rank as the eighth best team on third down with a conversion rate at 43.4%. That number is obviously trending up and has more room to grow based on what we’ve seen over the last two weeks.