PD: 7 for Sunday
7 for Sunday
9 hours ago
By Jim Thomas
For Continuity's Sake
The Lions' offensive line will have the same starting five on opening day for the third straight season. LT Jeff Backus, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Stephen Peterman, and RT Gosder Cherilus have a combined 494 starts (regular-season and playoffs) as Detroit Lions. That's more starts with their squad than the other three NFC North squads combined. As for the Rams, they can only look on with envy. Their starting line has but 41 combined starts as Rams: LT Rodger Saffold with 25 and RG Harvey Dahl with 16.
The Lions threw 666 passes last season, more than any team in the NFL. So the Rams' pass rush, headed by ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, should get plenty of cracks at Detroit QB Matthew Stafford. After his impressive preseason, Quinn lines up over Lions LT Jeff Backus, a 12-year veteran who turns 35 later this month. Backus has had an admirable career, starting all 176 regular-season games since the Lions took him in the first round in 2001. But at this stage of his career, he has trouble with the speed rush.
Speaking of Stafford
His injury problems from earlier in his career apparently behind him, Matthew Stafford has ascended to the point where he's threatening the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks. He had a monster 2011 season, throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 TD passes, both franchise records. He has great faith in his arm — the confidence to make all varieties of throws, and throw accurately into very tight windows. That means even if the Rams' defense has good coverage, Stafford has the skill to squeeze the ball into his receiver's hands.
The Lions don't have much of a running game, and will be minus Jahvid Best (concussion) and former Illinois star Mikel Leshoure (suspension). That leaves Kevin Smith, a third-round pick in '08, as the starter. After a couple of decent seasons to open his NFL career, Smith was injured most of 2010, and wasn't offered a contract by the Lions — or anyone else — in '11. It looked like he was done as a player, but was signed by the Lions midway through last season and averaged 4.9 yards a carry in seven games.
The Other Guys
If the Rams spend too much time trying to contain Calvin Johnson, the Lions have enough weapons elsewhere to make them pay. Detroit's No. 2 and No. 3 WRs, Nate Burleson and Titus Young, combined for 121 catches, 1,321 yards, and 9 TDs in 2011. Watch out for Burleson on the end-around, too. The Lions thought Young, a teammate of Rams WR Austin Pettis at Boise State, got better separation than any WR in the 2011 draft. At TE, Brandon Pettigrew is steady and productive, while Tony Scheffler can get downfield.
Hold that Line
The Rams won't face a deeper, more talented front than what the Lions will throw at them. Detroit really has 8 defensive linemen who could start for many teams, so they'll come in waves at the Rams. For a Rams offensive line still under construction, this isn't good news. DE Cliff Avril, who lines up over RT Barry Richardson, had 11 sacks and an NFC-best 6 forced fumbles last season. If rookie LG Rokevious Watkins makes his first NFL start, he'll deal with DTs Ndamukong Suh and the underrated Corey Williams.
The Last Time
In a battle of the No. 1 overall pick (Sam Bradford) and the No. 2 overall selection (Ndamukong Suh) from the 2010 draft, Detroit inflicted a 44-6 beat-down on Oct. 10, 2010 at Ford Field. The 38-point margin tied for the seventh-worst defeat in franchise history. Bradford threw two INTs, one of which was returned for a TD, and was battered so much by Detroit's pass rush that coach Steve Spagnuolo wanted to remove him from the game. Bradford refused to leave. WR Mark Clayton was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Re: PD: 7 for Sunday
Wanna hear something interesting? The Lions defense allowed 130 YPG rushing last year, and 5.0 YPC (2nd worst in the NFL). They also allowed 370 total YPG. They lost their top 3 CB's (Eric Wright, Aaron Berry, Chris Houston is injured), and their best secondary player FS Louis Delmas. Sam and the boys should have an absolute FIELD day against Bill Bentley and Jacob Lacey (rookie and outcast). Not to mention the threat of SJAX in the back, we should be able to walk up and down the field.
LETS GO RAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: PD: 7 for Sunday
Fisher has beat the Lions that last three times he has faced them, he knows them well.
Rok against Ndamukong Suh... move the pocket, roll Bradford out please. Let's run a lot of screens to slow them down.
Get the ball out quick Sam an incomplete is better then sacks!
Re: PD: 7 for Sunday
With their banged up secondary and scary as hell line... I'm definitely calling for draws, screens and a ton of trhee step drops. Sam needs to get the ball out quick and he needs to have a very fast clock in his head. If something isn't there immediately, just chuck the ball to the check down and get on to the next play. This is not the game to wait for the big play.