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Bucking a Trend
To open the 2nd quarter, the Lions were facing 1st and 20 after a Dominic Raiola penalty moved them back to their own side of the field. This is one of the plays that really got me excited, because the Lions have been facing 1st or 2nd and long far more often than they should due to penalties. Their play calling for most of the season in those situations was…well…really bad. Normally, this would be a slow developing run play to Bell that would go for 1 or 2 yards, or a YOLO throw to Calvin or Tate. This time, they used their own predictability against them.
First read on the play is obviously Calvin Johnson (It’s first and 20, Stafford looks that way to start). The Bears swing their defenders underneath on that side. They actually left Eric Ebron wide open (Again), but Ebron was at least the third read, probably 4th on this play.
Stafford went with his second read here, as Corey Fuller (the Blue line) easily distanced himself from Tim Jennings who was expecting a deep pass (Fuller’s route tree isn’t very expansive). The route wasn’t great by Fuller, but the Bears respected his speed so much that Jennings gave him a cushion of several yards. Stafford released the ball just as Fuller turned in on his route.
This kind of timing route is the type of play that I believed Joe Lombardi would be using more of, minimizing the ‘gunslinger’ mentality that Stafford has at times and forcing him to stop thinking about his throws and just trust the play. Stafford made his read, went to his second option, threw to a spot, and Fuller met the ball there. 1st and 20? 21 yard catch, 1st and 10.
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