I have seen many comments on the internet lately, even going back to last year, that
"the Lions need to throw more to set up the run."I would point out that the Lions had the 12th best passing offense in 2010, and would get a reply something like
"The defense isn't good, the Lions had to throw because they were behind."Ok then, it didn't help the running game because they couldn't run as much?
The Lions don't need to run more. They need to be more effective when they do run.
So, can passing more set up the run?
The Lions had 633 passing attempts in 2010. There were only two teams with more passing attempts, the Colts and the Patriots. How many times do they need to throw the ball before that theory is shown to be wrong?
Don't believe me?
Pass all you want, it all comes down to blocking. When you pass a lot, you might get 7 or even 6 in the box. Well, that should open up the running game, right? No, those defenders are not beaten, they cam still come up and make a hit to stop the run. That's where blocking comes in, downfield and by the recievers. Running requires blocking, no way around it.
Does running set up the pass?
Yes, and here's why. When you draw 8 or 9 defenders into the box playing against the run, they can be beaten over the top. They can't recover to make a play, it's too late.
I think the Lions have a chance at a good running game without running more. They are a team built to throw the ball, and that becomes obvious when they take the kick returner listed as a reciever and make him a running back to make room for more recievers. I'm ok with that, and that might have been a great move now that Aaron Brown is no longer a Lion. Stephan Logan should provide little drop off in speed if Best goes down again for any amount of time. He can also catch out of the back field. Enter Mikel Leshoure. A larger running back, and the Lions were hoping for more than just a third down back that can pick up the blitz and move the pile. They were hoping Leshoure could compliment Best in the running game. Best on first or second down? Sure. Now, do that with Leshoure on occasion. The whole 3rd down pile moving pass blocking picking up the blitz coming out of the back field in pass routes was all just a big bonus, but one the Lions had to have. The Lions decided to let Kevin Smith go into free agency without any offer from them. Kevin Smith was that 3rd down back, but maybe not the pile mover. That's why the Lions moved up to draft Leshoure. Leshoure suffered a torn achilles tendon in practice and is out for the season, before the season even started. Exit Leshoure. For now.
The Lions claimed running back Keiland Williams off waivers Sunday, and may have found someone to fill the offensive role the Lions expected rookie Mikel Leshoure to play, to some extent. Williams will probably go in as the number 3 or even 4 running back. At 5' 11" and 230 pounds, I think this fills the void for a third down back for sure, time will tell. I don't think Williams will be a feature back in a dual feature back set. That's what the Lions wanted from Leshoure.
The Lions also claimed second-year offensive guard Jacque Mcclendon, who appeared in four games for Indianapolis last season. The Colts selected McClendon in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, out of Tennessee. Coming out of college, the 6-foot-3, 324-pounder was known for his strength and ability to power block, but his footwork was considered a weakness. The Lions also had an eye on him in the 2010 draft. I don't see him as a starter until he can pass protect. That's big money bright future Stafford back there, not Joe Schmoe. Mcclendon might be able to contribute in goal line type packages, and maybe he can become better at pass protection. He also provides depth at guard the Lions needed.
So, we can all expect the same offensive line to start this season. I think the pass protection has improved. I think the run blocking needs to get better. I think that means new players down the road, and I would start at center. No, I do not expect Raiola to become a premier run blocker after 10 years. The short yardage running game also needs to improve. The Lions need to be able to chew clock with a slim lead if they have the ball late in games, it's just football sense.
So, though I would like to see the Lions run more at times, they really do not need to run more.
They do, however, need to become more effective when they run it.
Well, the Lions had the 23rd best rushing offense for total yards in 2010?
The Lions had 1,613 total rushing yards. The key word is total. The recievers rushed for 202 yards, at least. The Redskins were ranked 30th overall in total rushing yardage, with 1,461 yards. That's a difference of 152 yards between the Redskins and the Lions. The Redskins recievers rushed for 2 yards total. Take away the recievers rushing yardage from both theams, and the Lions are ranked 31st. Thing is, to be accurate one would have to look at the reciever rushing yardage from every team, then subtract that from their total to get their total RUNNING BACK rushing yardage. I didn't do all that, but I'd still guess the Lions would be in the bottom five.
Keep an eye on Stephan Logan this season. Last season, as a reciever and kick returner, he had 15 carries for 95 yards. Can he do that as a running back now?
I drift a lot in my writing, hope you stayed in there. That's also why I will not write a tribute for 'Killer' Tom Kowalski, I'm not good enough.
In his spirit, because this isn't me, I'll just add the following:
I hope you learned something.
Killer, you were the best.