Detroit Lions Midseason Grades: Coaches Report Card

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Scott Linehan

Oct 14, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) talks with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) along the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Lions defeated the Eagles 26-23 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Linehan’s offensive scheme can really be accurately graded this season, since the Lions have the speedy pass-catching running back historically required by all of Linehan’s successful schemes over time.

The success of Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson, and ultimately Matthew Stafford have to do with Linehan’s ability to put them in positions to do damage. He often gets criticized for uncreative, “vanilla” playcalling, but that hasn’t been the case since Reggie Bush joined the roster.

If there’s a criticism I have of Linehan’s work this season, it’s that his scheme looks like a house of cards. It seems to rely on the triumvirate of Bush, Johnson and Stafford, and if even one of them is missing, the whole unit becomes useless.

When Bush missed the second half against Arizona, the offense fell to pieces and the Lions ended up blowing a 21-13 lead because the offense didn’t score a single point after halftime. To be fair, the Lions were able to beat Washington handily the following week, but Joique Bell had a great game to facilitate it, and also Washington’s defense is awful.

Johnson missed the Green Bay game, and the Lions scored nine points. For the record, the Packers are currently (as of the end of Week 8) 16th in scoring defense, allowing 22.6 points per game. So the Packer defense is good, but not THAT good.

It seems that Linehan struggles to adjust his gameplan after he loses one of his major players. Bush left mid-game and the offense looked lost the rest of the game. Johnson was a game-time decision against Green Bay, and when he was ruled out, the offense played like they were shocked to be without him and couldn’t figure out what to do.

All that said, when everybody is in and healthy, points gets scored. Every week, Linehan’s machine hums a little louder. He has clearly built a great rapport with Stafford, and they seem to know exactly what the other one wants, which culminated in the impressive game-winning drive at Dallas.

Grade: B