Detroit Lions: 3 reasons they are peaking at the right time
By Matt Bosko
Jim Bob Cooter and the Offense
The Lions have found a running game, and it’s an impressive one. While credit goes to the offensive line and the running backs, credit also belongs to the much-maligned Jim Bob Cooter.
For the better part of two seasons, Cooter was rightly criticized by a frustrated fan base who felt that the whole simply did not equal the sum of the parts in the Lions’ offense. Too many talented weapons produced average or below-average results due to vanilla and predictable play-calling.
A legitimate running game makes an entire offense better, and the Lions have demonstrated that since Kerryon Johnson took over RB1 duties in the Motor City. With an effective ground attack, Cooter has opened the playbook a bit more and gotten other pieces involved.
Tight end Michael Roberts, whose roster spot was in peril throughout training camp, emerged out of the bye week as an effective red zone threat. Against the Dolphins, Roberts hauled in all three of his targets for 48 yards, including both of Matthew Stafford‘s touchdown passes.
Given the variety of weapons at every skill position, opposing defenses will have a difficult time accounting for every assignment. Since the Lions have talent littered all over the field on offense, expect lesser-known commodities such as Roberts and Riddick to emerge as secondary threats as the season progresses.
It cannot be understated just how important Matt Prater is to the Lions.
Since the season opener, when he missed two field goals, Prater has connected on 12 of his last 13 field goal attempts, including a 4-for-4 performance against the Dolphins on Sunday. He is as clutch as they come from any distance, and the Lions will need his heroics as the schedule gets tougher.
Aside from Prater, however, the entire unit seems to have gotten its act together. Kick coverage was a nightmare in the early part of the season but has tightened up significantly in recent weeks. Opposing teams are no longer beginning drives in plus-territory, which has given the defense a fighting chance.