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RedRamage

What's wrong with the Offense?

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For two weeks in a row now the offense has struggled mightily against what I would generally consider average (at best) defenses. I think it's worth investigating what's going on. Now, in the offenses defense (see what I did there?!? :), they were missing some key people: CJ and Bush. But any team can suffer injuries at any time. A good team has the depth to still get by with key people missing. And to the Lions credit, they still won the game without their big play makers. But it still seemed like they just barely got through the game.

Breaking down the different pieces:

Play calling: Are the coaches designing and using plays that take the best advantage of the players they have?

QB: Is Stafford making good decisions and accurate throws?

RB: Are the running back performing well?

OL: Is the line providing protection for Stafford or opening holes for the RBs?

WR: Are the WR getting open and making plays?

TE: Are the TE contributing to the offense?

Play calling: I like some of what I see. I love the play action passing. I like that there appears more creativity in the offense vs. previous years. But the running game seems to have regressed. It seems like 70+% of the runs are: Run into the line and see if you can get 1 or 2 yards. Now I know you need some of these runs in order to sell the play action pass, but it seems like we could (and should) run outside sometimes too.

QB: It seemed like half the time the Vikings DL was in the backfield attacking Stafford almost instantly. WAY too many times defenders were on top of Stafford before he could even get a pass out. However, there were times when he did get decent protection, and in those times too often I saw him miss by 5+ feet. He just wasn't that accurate too many times yesterday. I've seen improvements in Stafford this year... his decision making seems better. His pocket presence seems better. His ability to avoid the rush (when he's given enough time to set his feet) seems better. But his accuracy still seems way off way too much. If he can't get better, more consistent accuracy he's never going to be more than average.

RB: The running backs seem VERY ineffective as runners this year. Certainly there have been times they have succeeded, and a couple of games they have done an impressive job of running out the clock late in games. But we're only averaging 86.3 yards per game, and very few runs seem to go for any significant distance. I tend to play the line more than the back for this, but I do see the backs stopping and redirecting at times when they should just plow ahead and get what they can.

OL: Here's where I see the biggest drop off since last year. Again, injuries have been part of it, but while the OL seemed like a big strength of last years team, they are a liability this year. Rarely opening good holes for the RBs and WAY too often letting defensive lines through to get at Stafford. I swear I saw at least twice yesterday where Riola just stood up, stretched out his arms wide and watched a defense go by on either side just brushing them with his fingers. I don't know if it's scheme, sophmore slump for the two rookies, old age for the veterans or what... but this unit has regressed significantly from last year.

WR: It seems unfair to judge a unit when the best WR in football is injuried, but still the unit seems to be doing well. Yeah... there have been drops, but less than last year. And Tate has been a HUGE pickup, and been playing phenomenally well. Obviously you'd like to see any unit improve and when (if??) CJ comes back they will improve. But even without CJ I assign the LEAST blame for the offensive struggles at the feet of the WR.

TE: Another unit that seems to have regressed significantly from last year. Again, they have a key member out with injury, but I don't think too many people expected Fauria to be a major player for the Lions. Pettigrew seems to have disappeared. Maybe he's being kept in a lot more for blocking, but if he has, it hasn't helped. An Ebron... well... he did catch two passes this game, so... yeah.

TL;DR version:

In order of responsibility for bad offense:

OL has sucked, Stafford is too inaccurate, TEs regressed, play calling bears some of the blame.

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Only saw a little of the game, but from the small sample that I viewed, The OL was horrible, WR were dropping passes, and Stafford needs to learn to throw the ball away instead of just standing there waiting to be sacked. Bell seemed to be running well, and i don't remember anything about the TEs.

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Lots of things, but I'm starting to think that Lombardi wants to force too much of the Saints offense on a team, namely an OL, that is not capable of performing its tasks. I'd like to see them concentrate on getting the ball out of Stafford's hands quickly.

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The best receiver in the game playing on one foot last week and not being in the game this week, Reggie Bush not playing this week and even Theo Riddick getting hurt in last nights game, along with Tate straight up dropping at least 3 passes yesterday.

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The offense hasn't been good, but it also hasn't been bad.

It's incredibly mediocre. That's not ideal, but it could be a lot worse. Even if you assume it won't get better, they can still win games with it.

As for the reason it is mediocre, you can place pretty much all of the blame on the line. It hasn't been good. It holds its own in run blocking, but it has been terrible at pass blocking.

Missing Calvin hasn't helped matters. They need to be able to go to him.

I don't think the line will get much better, so it's up to stafford and the receivers to make up for it. Given how bad the line has been, especially in pass protection, it's a credit to the skill position players that the offense overall is mediocre.

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It all starts with the offensive line. The line isn't giving the runners many lanes to run though (although they seem to get better at this late in games) and they aren't giving Stafford any time to throw. I think it has gotten into Stafford's head because when he does have time to throw, he's gunshy which for him is unusual so he's holding on to the ball too long and getting sacked or just throwing the ball errantly due to lack of trust in the offensive line and receivers which leads me to my next point.

I don't think the lack of throwing time would as much of an issue if Stafford had a healthy Calvin Johnson to throw to. Part of the problem is that the receivers outside of Tate just don't get open so Stafford doesn't have anybody reliable to get the ball to. Riddick getting hurt took away another weapon. I think they need to start trusting Ebron at some point and feature him more in the offense. They drafted this kid at #10 to be a primary weapon, not some situational pass catcher like Fauria. I'm not a fan of his and can understand why the coaches lack trust in him but if you invested a top 10 pick in him, you might as well utlize him correctly.

Ultimately, the offensive line is going to have to get its act together regardless of who is healthy. If they continue to let pass rushers get free shots at Stafford, the offense will never gain any rhythm. The Lions use the pass to set up the run, so when the passing game isn't working, it all breaks down.

The schedule lightens up as far as opposing defenses are concerned so the offense should start to play better but i wonder if the defense gets exposed now that they finally start facing QBs with a pulse.

Edited by NYLion

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Here’s what’s wrong: Stafford has one second to throw the ball. And when he does no one is open.

My work is done here

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The offense hasn't been good, but it also hasn't been bad.

It's incredibly mediocre. That's not ideal, but it could be a lot worse. Even if you assume it won't get better, they can still win games with it.

As for the reason it is mediocre, you can place pretty much all of the blame on the line. It hasn't been good. It holds its own in run blocking, but it has been terrible at pass blocking.

Missing Calvin hasn't helped matters. They need to be able to go to him.

I don't think the line will get much better, so it's up to stafford and the receivers to make up for it. Given how bad the line has been, especially in pass protection, it's a credit to the skill position players that the offense overall is mediocre.

This is pretty much exactly how I feel. Mediocrity.

I will say I blame roughly 95% of the lack of any cohesive passing attack on the o-line and Lombardi's slow reactions. First, the oline has been brutal to the point where it looks like Stafford never expects to have time, so he never is able to get through reads. It is possible that Stafford does not do a good job reading where blitzes are coming from and doesn't adjust the line well, but it's hard to believe that he could be this much worse than a year ago. It's more likely the line is just bad.

I think Lombardi has to get some of the blame for not changing the play book (so far) to help offset the bad line. There are teams with lines at least as bad as ours that get buy with quick passes from pre-snap reads to force defenses to be more honest.

Honestly though, I think the offense has taken care of the ball which has allowed us to win games with the best defense in football (so far). We haven't been in a losing position very much this season, and I think our offensive numbers would be higher across the board if our defense wasn't so good (more deep throws, more yards, more TDs, more turnovers). Stafford has made leaps of progress in taking care of the football. That has really been an understated point this season so far.

But seriously, I thought it was decided the offense being bad was because Lombardi hasn't installed a winning culture into the offense yet. Instead of practicing football, they should practice winning things.

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Here’s what’s wrong: Stafford has one second to throw the ball. And when he does no one is open.

My work is done here

I can't accept that though... there were times when a Stafford just wasn't accurate. The receiver may not have been wide open, but the ball was no where near the guy. I don't think Stafford is horrible or the biggest problem here, but I also don't think he's without blame. He's a number 1 over all pick. He's supposed to elevate the players around him and right now he's average at best.

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I can't accept that though... there were times when a Stafford just wasn't accurate. The receiver may not have been wide open, but the ball was no where near the guy. I don't think Stafford is horrible or the biggest problem here, but I also don't think he's without blame. He's a number 1 over all pick. He's supposed to elevate the players around him and right now he's average at best.

I would imagine that constant pressure still has an effect even on the plays where there is no pressure. So even though there may have been 5 times stafford had time in the pocket, I highly doubt it feels like he has time. I mean, I'd expect Rodgers and Manning to excel the few times they have time (and probably Luck, since he is built like a linebacker), but most QBs are going to struggle there.

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I can't accept that though... there were times when a Stafford just wasn't accurate. The receiver may not have been wide open, but the ball was no where near the guy. I don't think Stafford is horrible or the biggest problem here, but I also don't think he's without blame. He's a number 1 over all pick. He's supposed to elevate the players around him and right now he's average at best.

I am not sure what game you were watching, but I saw PLENTY of accurate throws..that the WR's simply did not catch. He threw the ball away more than anything because he did not have the time...that is not on him. I recall 4 throws he simply heaved to get rid of because of the pressure.

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Missing the best WR in the game and one of the best RB fits for this offense.

New offense combined with a lot of backups is naturally going to be a bit glitchy.

FG kickers have cost us a lot of points

Stafford is being cautious with his throws late in games with a lead and a good defense, probably in response to last year.

Also general talent issues.

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I can't accept that though... there were times when a Stafford just wasn't accurate. The receiver may not have been wide open, but the ball was no where near the guy. I don't think Stafford is horrible or the biggest problem here, but I also don't think he's without blame. He's a number 1 over all pick. He's supposed to elevate the players around him and right now he's average at best.

You know, I was wondering during the game if some of those off-target throws were deliberate. That might be giving him too much credit, but he does seem more concerned lately with not turning the ball over rather than force something into a small window. It got me thinking... if the coverage is too tight, is he saying screw it and heaving it at the last second where no one can get it? If that's true I'm not so sure it's such a bad idea

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Missing the best WR in the game and one of the best RB fits for this offense.

New offense combined with a lot of backups is naturally going to be a bit glitchy.

FG kickers have cost us a lot of points

Stafford is being cautious with his throws late in games with a lead and a good defense, probably in response to last year.

Also general talent issues.

Missing CJ hurts. Don't believe that about Bush. I doubt he would've made much of a difference yesterday. Riddick and Bell were fine

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FG kickers have cost us a lot of points

Not that Points Scored alone is the best way to judge an offence, but right now the Lions are at 19.3 ppg.... good for 26th in the NFL.

Kickers have missed 10 (yes, 10!) FG attempts this year. If we assume they make them all (yeah, it's possible even Hanson misses one or more of those, but they were all doable. They weren't huge, impossible kicks.)... so if we assume they make 'em all, that's another 30 points, bringing the Lions to 24.3 ppg. Good enough for 14th in the league.

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Missing CJ hurts. Don't believe that about Bush. I doubt he would've made much of a difference yesterday. Riddick and Bell were fine

Riddick did well catching the ball, but I think Bush is more of a dual threat to the defense. And neither one played towards end of Buffalo game.

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Lions offensive scheme doesn't fit the personnel, even with Bush/Johnson, the offense still struggled.

Cory Fuller is a worthless NFL receiver, he has stone hands.

Lombardi ran Payton's scheme, Payton was the offensive mastermind and Payton called the plays, Lombardi get's to much credit for the Saints offense.

Stafford is getting hammered, based on the personnel issue, expecting Raola/Sims to hold up to NFL caliber DT's for any significant period of time is problematic.

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Lions offensive scheme doesn't fit the personnel, even with Bush/Johnson, the offense still struggled.

Cory Fuller is a worthless NFL receiver, he has stone hands.

Lombardi ran Payton's scheme, Payton was the offensive mastermind and Payton called the plays, Lombardi get's to much credit for the Saints offense.

Stafford is getting hammered, based on the personnel issue, expecting Raola/Sims to hold up to NFL caliber DT's for any significant period of time is problematic.

I disagree. I think the offense is the perfect passing fit for Stafford/CJ/Bush/Tate/Ebron. Maybe some adjustments have to be made with the blocking. I do think they've lost something with the run game, probably a combination of schematic/OL issues.

And it's not like the Saints have started out any better than the Lions.

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Missing CJ hurts. Don't believe that about Bush. I doubt he would've made much of a difference yesterday. Riddick and Bell were fine

Riddick left the game in the 1st half. I was fine with Riddick in Bush's place.

We have a new offense, our OL is struggling(maybe because of the former), our best skill guy is out and our kicking has been atrocious. Its not rocket science. The last 2 should be pretty fixable. Bring Calvin back after London and hope he makes it through the year.

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With almost any offensive success, it comes down to the O-Line and then the QB. The O-Line has been figured out a bit. I think age is showing a bit more with Raiola and Sims, the RT has not been consistent with injuries and I think Larry Warford is no longer surprising people and teams are scouting him a bit better.

On Stafford. I have been a hopeful supporter of Matthew Stafford. He is, by far, the best QB we've had here in my memory (going back to Greg Landry). But I don't think he'll be much more than slightly above average. He's tough as hell. But he still misses too many open receivers too frequently. I have noticed that he seems to be protecting the ball quite a bit better this year - as much as he's been knocked around, he hasn't been fumbling or making too many stupid throws trying to force something out of nothing. Not having Calvin around probably helps with that. The dropoff from Stafford to Orlovsky is a cliff, man.

The running game has been odd this year. Not consistent, but it's been the no-names that have been eye openers this year. I do kind of count short passes under 5 yards (point of catch) to RB as part of the running game and not the passing game. (Just how I see it) and they seem to be fine there. Riddick and Winn have been pleasant surprises, but may be benefiting from scheme.

If our kickers were consistant we'd be 5-1 and the offense would seem to be much better.

Yesterday's missed kicks didn't alarm me much. Wind was blowing 25-30 mph much of the game.......he did hit the post once and he'd really only had four days with his snapper and placer. We'll have a better idea with another week of practice and an indoor game on Sunday. I think there could be issues with the timing of the snap/hold/kick. It may not have a lot to do with the kicker at all.

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Its amazing how they struggle to build good WR depth. Even upon adding Ebron and Tate, another WR should have been added. Even if you thought Ebron would be the de facto 3rd WR, he wasn't going to be a full time WR and its an offense that uses a lot of 3 WR sets. Having only Fuller,Ross and Broyles as options after the starters wasn't smart.

Plus with Ebron, pass catchers usually don't start dominating in year one. They shouldn't have put themselves in position to have to defend on him so heavily. The Pettigrew signing isn't looking great either.

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So how bad is Broyles then? He can't get any run while Fuller continues to do nothing. Fuller is not an NFL quality receiver, poor routes and worse hands. Why not at least give Broyles a shot?

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