Detroit Lions keys to home win versus San Francisco

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) applauds as the team huddles before a play against Buffalo during the first half of the preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) applauds as the team huddles before a play against Buffalo during the first half of the preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. /
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TJ Hockenson makes a catch
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) pulls in a first down catch over Tennessee Titans strong safety Amani Hooker (37) during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.Gw58295 /

Detroit Lions offensive challenges, continued.

In some ways the Detroit Lions have some similarities to San Francisco, with the offense flowing through a great tight end, the running backs, and a talented line. If you were going to study any team to figure out ways to get T.J. Hockenson the ball, using film of George Kittle would be the first viewing that Lynn should do.

Dan Campbell admitted that is a challenge for the offense this week, “We’ve got to find ways to get him the football”, when referring to the Pro-Bowl tight end. Hockenson has been at his best running up the seams of the defense or in the underneath zones with wideouts and slot players taking the top off of the opposing defense. He has shown the potential to be a very effective red zone option, as well.

To take his game to the next level, moving him around and getting him the ball on screens, bubbles, and some hand-offs to increase his touches seems like a way to emulate the production that Kittle has in San Francisco. Hockenson isn’t as fast as Kittle but the pair both attended the University of Iowa and work out together in the offseason, with Hockenson playing the little brother role.

Lynn’s offense features a similar zone blocking scheme to their Sunday opponent but tends to involve their runners in a short passing game more. While the offense does take shots down field, it is not predicated on that to consistently move the ball. Lynn wants to maintain balance, possess the ball, and it requires an efficient distributor to do so.

The runners should catch more passes, too, with D’Andre Swift likely being the biggest beneficiary due to his route-running prowess and good hands. Swift must contribute as both a receiver and tough, decisive runner. Jamaal Williams must act as a good second punch to Swift’s versatility and provide good pass protection when called upon.

The Los Angeles Chargers, Lynn’s previous team where he was the head coach, were dead last in 40-yard-plus runs in 2020, fared better in 20-yard or more plays (17th), but were overall 20th in rushing for the year. His passing game was 13th in 20-yard or better plays, and 11th in 40-plus yard passes with strong-armed rookie quarterback Justin Herbert at the helm.

He often uses multiple running backs in the backfield or multiple tight ends to bring defenders in toward the ball. Jared Goff, obtained in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles, is an accurate distributor who can get out of the pocket to extend plays. He must play almost mistake-free ball and involve as many targets as possible in as many parts of the field as possible.

The Detroit Lions must give Goff a clean pocket some but Lynn has to move Goff around to change the pocket and target location for the Forty-Niner’s pass rushers. Third-and-long’s will be drive-killers because the Lions are not built to get huge chunks of yardage. The Lions have to stay on schedule, mix play calls, and avoid negative plays, sacks, or turnovers.

Next. Detroit Lions line, can they carry the team?. dark

The Detroit wide receiver corps, much maligned this offseason, must get some plays out of Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Quintez Cephus while new arrivals Trinity Benson and KhaDarel Hodge get up to speed. If they cannot keep the San Francisco defense honest, things will go South very quickly, we think.