It's time for 5 Questions. This week Sean Yuille over at Pride of Detroit gives us the skinny on the Detroit Lions.
Blogging The Boys: Roy Williams is out for the game – and possibly the season. How much will this hurt the Lions' offense? Which receiver will have to step up big in this game?
Pride of Detroit: The Lions offense has been very inconsistent since the halfway point of the season, and things sort of started to come together last week. Before leaving with an injury in the first half, Williams was on pace to have his best game of the season. Last week, after being concerned about how he was being used, Martz and Williams met and you could tell the Lions were getting him the ball. Now that he is out I would say the offense will struggle somewhat, but to tell you the truth, I don't think him playing would make a difference. With an unbalanced gameplan every week that keeps the Lions from scoring points until they are too far behind, Williams being out probably won't change things drastically. As far as which receiver will have to step it up, it is definitely Calvin Johnson. On Thanksgiving he got the ball thrown in his direction a lot but struggled and hardly got anything last week. Now that he steps in as the #1 receiver, he has to make plays.
BTB: The lack of a running game in Detroit is glaring. Is this all because of Mike Martz or is the blame spread equally to the offensive line and the running backs?
POD: I would say the abysmal running game is both Martz's fault and the offensive line's fault. Martz is just too impatient when it comes to the running game and that was evident last week when Detroit ran it only once or twice in the entire first half against Minnesota. I think the problem is he doesn't have any faith in the running game, which makes him go to the pass too much. Couple that with the fact that Detroit has been playing catch up in each of the last 4 games and that had a little to do with it. For the o-line, they definitely play a huge role in the horrid running game. They are the reason why Martz has no faith in it as it really is just sad at times. Don't even get me started on how bad they protect Kitna, but they don't do Jones any favors either.
BTB: The Lions defense was very opportunistic early in the season – getting turnovers and scoring. Was that just a fluke or is there another reason they haven't been as good recently?
POD: As much as I hate to say it, it appears that the Lions were just in the right place at the right time often. Since the midpoint of the season that luck hasn't been there quite as much. At the same time, though, a big difference now is that the offense no longer is capitalizing on these mistakes. Sure, the defense hasn't played nearly as well as they did in some of the first 8 games, but against the Giants, for example, there were 2 or so fumbles that came when NY was driving. It did seem like a fluke situation on how the fumbles happened, but the defense took the opportunity to create a turnover by recovering the ball. The offense on the other hand did nothing with the turnover and put 0 points on the board. In the first half of the season, the offense would have scored a touchdown or at least a field goal to make the turnover worthwhile. Now? Not so much.
BTB: Everybody knows I'm a huge Calvin Johnson fan being a Georgia Tech alum. What are your thoughts on CJ so far?
POD: If he can stay healthy, C.J. will be great someday. He has made a few amazing catches that shows how athletic of a player he is. The reason I brought up the need that he stays healthy is due to the fact that an injury has lingered with him all season long. It happened on one of those amazing catches - against Philadelphia - when he jumped for a pass over an Eagles defender and fell directly on his back. It was shocking that he made the catch considering how hard he hit the ground, but a back injury did happen from the fall. Only recently has he been off of the injury report, so once he gets back to full health I can't wait to see what he does.
BTB: Jon Kitna. Nothing has generated more of an uproar for the Cowboys and their fans than his comments after the game last year. Are we making too much out of it? Will the Lions be able to protect Kitna on Sunday from a defense that is keyed-up to make him pay?
POD: To be honest, I think the Cowboys are making too much out of it. The interview happened nearly a year ago if I remember correctly and should anything he says really be taken seriously? I mean the man predicted the Detroit Lions to win 10 or more games this season. For a short period of time we here in Detroit were thinking that prediction might come true and we were ready to declare him a prophet, but now that they've lost 4 in a row, not so much. Comments or no comments, the given in every Lions game is that Kitna will get beat up. The pass protection is by far the worst in the league and I would expect Kitna to get hit often anyways. Now that the 'Boys have these comments on their minds, I would think the hits will come with a little something extra.