Why do the Detroit Lions struggle so badly stopping the run?

Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

What’s the deal with the Detroit Lions and their suspect run defense so far this season? I’ll break down exactly what’s going on.

Week in and week out, the Detroit Lions have been a liability stopping the run. There are a few different factors as to why they can’t seem to put it all together consistently.

When it comes to execution, the Lions often find themselves being their own worst enemy. Whether it’s the linebackers not flowing to the correct hole or the defensive linemen breaking their gap responsibilities, you can’t expect to be successful when you don’t do your job.

In order for players to do their job, the coaches have to put their guys in the best position to make a play. Oftentimes I notice the coaching staff is to blame for the issues plaguing Detroit.

Opposing teams haven’t had trouble breaking off long runs due in part to the predictability and relative ease the Lions allow them to do it. Against the Miami Dolphins, there were noticeable improvements, but it’s far from serviceable.

For example, I’ve seen the linebackers aligned in gaps that make it increasingly difficult to get to the ball carrier. I often see their heads swimming and getting blocked way too easily.

The defensive line has to accept some responsibility for breaking free from their gaps and failing to eat up blocks. For the most part, they’ve really played well this season.

I’ve noticed many of the huge gains, some of which resulted in touchdowns, have come from being in the nickel (five defensive backs) or dime (six defensive backs) formations. It’s a lot easier for the opposition to impose their will when you’re weaker in the box.

How can the Lions fix these issues? Obviously the biggest resolution will need to come from the players, who seem to be getting more comfortable with the new scheme. Head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni need to do better themselves.

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Communication is the biggest factor that’ll determine success or failure the Detroit Lions‘ ability to swallow up the run. Once they get their minds right and they understand this defense to the fullest potential, scary good things can happen.