Detroit Lions Strategy And Personnel 10-19-11
–QB Matthew Stafford had arguably the worst game of his pro career in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. In his defense, he was under much duress. According to research by ProFootballFocus.com, he was pressured on 35.7 percent of his passes. He was sacked five times and hit 10 times. That said, he was panicky all game. He was too quick to bail out of the pocket; too quick to ground the ball. His accuracy (28 for 50) has been an issue the past three weeks.
–RB Jahvid Best suffered his second concussion of the season, which is a major concern right now given the anemic state of the Lions’ run game. While he only mustered 37 yards rushing, he was a threat in the pass game (six catches, 73 yards). If Best can’t go, Maurice Morris would most likely start.
–TE Brandon Pettigrew continues to be Stafford’s primary bailout target. He was thrown to 14 times and he caught eight for 42 yards and a touchdown. It took some strong work by linebacker Patrick Willis to limit him to 42 yards.
–WR Titus Young had another learning game. The rookie twice blasted off the line of scrimmage before the snap. Most likely, he was antsy because he struggled all day to beat press coverage. He needs to learn how to come back for the ball when Stafford is scrambling. He was thrown to five times but caught only one.
–WR Nate Burleson was finally included in the offense. He was thrown to 10 times, more than the three previous games combined. He caught four passes for 34 yards, including his first touchdown of the season. Again, though, the speedy 49ers defenders refused to allow much after catches.
–WR Rashied Davis (foot) was back after missing four games. He took his normal spot on the coverage and return teams, and also took three offensive snaps.
–DT Corey Williams had a productive day. He was no match for LG Mike Iupati. He was credited with three tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass deflection. He also had four pressures.
–LT Jeff Backus struggled against OLB Aldon Smith. He was beaten for three sacks, a hit and seven pressures.
–SS Amari Spievey, after being limited in practice all week with a hamstring injury and grieving for his cousin, Chauncey Hardy, a professional basketball player killed in Romania, had an interception, a pass break up and four tackles.
–DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, who suffered a stinger in the fourth quarter, was back in the weight room early Monday morning. The stinger came when he tried to throw a block on the interception return of Amari Spievey. His helmet had come unstrapped during the play, but he made the block any way. Vanden Bosch had neck surgery last season, so stingers are a concern. “It’s all relative, but it’s not part of his previous issue with his neck surgery,” coach Jim Schwartz said.
–P Ryan Donahue said he was supposed to punt the ball high and to the sideline, instead he hit it low and right down the middle of the field. San Francisco’s return ace Ted Ginn, Jr., brought it back 40 yards to set up the winning score. “It’s like everybody who plays golf, you always want to hit the fairway; sometimes you don’t,” Schwartz said. “We need to do a better job covering those. But the disappointment on that was there was a pretty significant block in the back (that wasn’t called) on the return. You talk about one play in a game — that might have been it. It would have significantly flipped the field.”
–WR Calvin Johnson became the fastest Lions player to catch 300 passes Sunday. He did it in 66 games, four quicker than Herman Moore.
–OLB DeAndre Levy, coming off a career-best 13 tackles against Chicago, had 12 tackles on Sunday.
REPORT CARD VS. 49ERS
C — Credit goes to the speed and relentless pressure of the 49ers defense, but the Lions didn’t do much right. The protection was spotty. Receivers not named Calvin Johnson couldn’t get separation against man coverage. And for the first time this season, QB Matthew Stafford had happy feet. He was under pressure a lot — five sacks, 10 hits — but he was also feeling pressure and bailing out at times when there was none.
D — Coming off their best effort of the season, this was their worst. Just 66 yards total rushing. RB Jahvid Best had 37 yards in 12 carries. Breakdowns seem to be coming from different spots on different plays.
B — They didn’t give up any big plays and forced two turnovers (interception and a sack-fumble). They had two sacks and six hits on QB Alex Smith. What has to gall the Lions, though, of Smith’s 17 completions, seven were for first downs.
C — The 49ers ran the same play — called a wham play — twice. RB Frank Gore took one for 55 yards and another for 47. Each time it appeared OLB Bobby Carpenter missed his gap. Gore wound up with 141 of the 49ers’ 203 rushing yards.
D — The coverage units continue to struggle. Ted Ginn Jr. averaged 24 yards on punt returns and 26.3 on kickoff returns. P Ryan Donahue managed a net of just 32.3 yards on eight punts. On the other side, the Lions started three drives inside their 10 thanks to the punting of Andy Lee.
C — Nothing offensive coordinator Scott Linehan did seemed to deceive the 49ers. Every trick he tried to disguise the short passing game went for naught. Conversely, and this is more on Stafford than the coaches, but they never could break the code on the 49ers’ coverage disguises. Often, Stafford was seeing double coverage where there was just single.
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