JB - On paper, it looked like the Lions had the makings of a pretty great defense. With top picks and Pro Bowlers on the line, BGN favorite Stephen Tulloch in the middle... But they just haven't lived up to their billing this season. Why would you say that is?
Sean Yuille - The defensive line and secondary are the biggest issues on defense right now. The D-line has rightly been called overrated by a lot of people, and it's because they aren't doing a good job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. This lack of pressure partly stems from the secondary's soft coverage, but there's no doubt guys like Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril need to do a lot more than they have. In the secondary, it's not that certain players aren't living up to expectations. Simply, there weren't real high expectations to begin with. Talent is sparse and depth is thin. The Lions have a promising rookie in Bill Bentley, but he has a long way to go to be a solid cornerback and has been forced into starting because of the lack of talent at the position.
Sticking with the defense, its interesting to look at their stats. They're actually quite good at limiting yardage, but they seem to give up a lot of touchdowns. Kind of the mirror image of the Eagles offense. Do you think the yards or the TDs are a more telling stat for what this unit will be the rest of this season?
The Lions give up a lot of big plays for touchdowns, so I would go with that as a more telling stat for the defense. At times, the Lions can do a really good job of shutting down the opposing offense, but in the Titans game especially, there were a lot of explosion plays. This goes back to the lack of experience in the secondary. The cornerbacks have really struggled in limiting big plays, and I don't see that changing a whole lot as the season progresses.
The Lions special teams has been suspect to say the least this season with 2 kick returns for TDs allowed and the highest punt return average in the league. Special teams problems can often be tough to pinpoint, but do you have any idea of who or what to blame?
Jim Schwartz has put the blame on players not executing. While that's certainly an issue, I blame special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and his schemes more than anything. The Lions gave up a lot of big returns last year, and in the preseason Schwartz put the coverage units on notice for their poor coverage. Clearly, the problem is now bigger than ever. Considering the Vikings said after their win in Detroit a couple weeks ago that they were expecting to score on special teams (and did twice), I have to blame the scheme. Poor tackling certainly has been part of the Lions' problems, but the common denominator here is Crossman.
Do the Lions have a RB? If so, what is his name and is he any good? - Signed frustrated fantasy football player.
Mikel Leshoure, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury and the first two weeks this year because of a suspension, burst onto the scene in Tennessee in Week 3. He rushed for 100 yards and showed a running style that Lions fans hadn't seen in a while. He can make defenders miss with some nice jukes, and he can also run right through defenders. His numbers were down quite a bit against the Vikings, but he seems to be the Lions' starting running back going forward.
The problem for Leshoure is that he will only go as far as the offensive line allows, and quite frankly, the O-line has not been good this year. Far too often Leshoure has had to make defenders miss in the backfield just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Holes are rarely open for running backs, and unless the Lions change something up with the offensive line (like inserting Riley Reiff into the starting lineup), it's probably going to be a struggle for running backs all season long.
For fantasy purposes, something to keep an eye on in the next week is if Jahvid Best can get cleared from his concussion issues and activated from the PUP list. He is a great runner and catches a lot of passes, so if he gets cleared, he might be a good add to your fantasy team.
Matt Stafford actually makes for a decent comparison to Michael Vick in that most of his stats look pretty good, but the turnover number seems to jump out. He's averaged a pick a game here this season, which he did last year, but this time he doesn't have the gaudy TD numbers to make you forgive. What is your take on Stafford right now?
In the first few weeks of the season he really struggled with turnovers. I think it was more of a mental thing than anything where he was overthinking things and paying as a result. He seems to be getting his game back on track, although he still needs to be much more consistent with his accuracy. That is a big reason for the lack of touchdowns and the general lack of ability to sustain drives for the Lions.