Detroit Lions: Gameplan for beating the Minnesota Vikings 1.0
Minneapolis is the first stop to kickoff divisional play for the Detroit Lions. This contest could end up being tougher than last weeks game.
Injury to Minnesota Vikings’ starting quarterback or not, they are clearly a force to be reckoned with. Throw in an improved run game on top of what is already a lethal passing attack and a Super Bowl caliber defense and you have yourself a handful of trouble. Detroit Lions’ players and coaches better be ready for a tough tilt against a worthy NFC North rival.
Get past last game’s hangover
Tough losses are hard to get over, especially ones that weren’t necessarily in your control. Although the Lions did make a lot of silly mistakes like dropping passes and committing boneheaded penalties, they also caught a bad break.
Not only is there controversy surrounding wide receiver Golden Tate’s knee being down before he crossed the plain, but there was improper clock management on behalf of the replay officials. The game clock should have stopped at 11 seconds (not eight), thus leaving one second remaining and one final play against the Atlanta Falcons.
Boohoo, time to get over it. If you are a true Lions fan you would know that this sort of thing happens quite often. It’s always frustrating, but you should be used to it by now.
Moral of the story is, Detroit can’t get hung up on Week 3 because now it’s on to Week 4. The focus needs to shift on the Vikings who are a very fine team themselves. Use that loss as motivation to win the next game, not an excuse to lose.
Slow the opponent’s running backs
This week won’t be much easier than the last when it comes to facing a tough running back. Rookie sensation Dalvin Cook will bring it in every facet of the game. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are no slouches either if summoned to the field.
If our linebackers can’t match up with either one of those players, it will turn into a long day. The Lions can’t afford to allow the Vikings to control the time of possession and give them easy yards on the ground or on dump-off passes. Getting stud rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis back and healthy from his concussion might be Detroit’s only hope in stopping Minnesota’s running backs.
Better play-calling on offense
With the offensive line dealing with injuries and the potential for center Travis Swanson to miss yet another game, the Lions need to be careful on offense. You can’t completely abandon the running game, but the focus needs to be on short/quick passes. Emphasis on short/quick to avoid the heavy rush.
Reason being for this logic goes beyond the injuries for Detroit. The fact the Vikings are so effective as run stoppers and pass rushers means the Lions will need to be very careful with their play selections.
Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter did not do very well in last week’s contest. On offense, he needs to focus on his strengths (Matthew Stafford and his receivers) and be aware of his weaknesses (offensive line and Eric Ebron). Minnesota’s defense will be hell to deal with.
Play with DISCIPLINE
As mentioned earlier, Detroit cannot afford to make stupid mistakes against quality football teams, like Minnesota. Right guard TJ Lang is awesome but he should know better than to commit that unnecessary roughness penalty early in the previous game. Dropping passes is also inexcusable and needs to be eliminated.
Next: How outraged should you be about that final play?
If these problems continue to arise, Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell needs to put his foot down and reprimand his players. Concerns with how many holding penalties there were should be a major one. I don’t know if it was lack of effort or if it was just being over-matched, but that issue needs resolving ASAP.