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Game 4: Who’s to blame in the passing game?

That’s a coverage point (Getty Images)

Another week, another step closer to becoming the Lions again. Who’s to blame? Well, the special teams primarily, but there is plenty of secondary (PUN!) blame to go around.

The defense didn’t play poorly. They didn’t give up a touchdown and held the Vikings offense to just 227 total yards.

But it all wasn’t chocolate chip cookies and Lucky Charms. A certain third-round pick that the Lions just kind of assumed would play like a first- or second-round pick got victimized. Repeatedly.

Christian Ponder isn’t a good a good quarterback, although he rans a fantastic PA rollout for five yards. Officially, he went 16-for-26 for 111 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. HOWEVA, there were two pass interference penalties for a total of 57 yards. So really, he went 18-for-28 for 168 yards. Considering the 398 yards Jake Locker put up in the last game, it was still a pretty solid day for the defense. Unless of course, you’re Bill Bentley.

Let’s break it down.

Strategy wise, it was a bit more of the same. A lot of zone, a lot of pattern-matching routes (a kind of semi zone, where the defense plays man or zone depending on the route the receivers run). There may have beem a little more man-to-man simply because Christian Ponder is Christian Ponder.

Personnel Changes

The Lions kept John Wendling off the field on defense* and Amari Spievey didn’t play due to a groin injury. That left practice team all-star and missed-tackle extraordinaire Ricardo Silva starting at one of the safety spots. He actually played really well in the passing game, but had some of his trademark missed tackles in the running game.

Pass Touchdowns

None. Good work defense. The Vikings scored zero offensive touchdowns. And they still won. Yay special teams!

Chart

Player Yards Good Coverage Points Yardage differential from last week
Bill Bentley 89 1 +20
Linebackers 37 2 -33.25
GAME PLAN** 34 0 +3
Chris Houston 4 2 -35
Erik Coleman 4 0 -46.75
Ricardo Silva 0 2 N/A
Cliff Avril 0 2 N/A

What have we learned?

While the context is still a little light, it was pretty excellent day all around. Unless, of course, you’re Bill Bentley. Cliff Avril played so well he found his way onto the chart. The safeties weren’t really involved in the passing game, mainly because 90 percent of Ponder’s passes were play-action rollouts for five to six yard gains.

Jacob Lacey was suspiciously absent. The only time I noticed him do anything was when he was late on a corner blitz. I’d have to review the game to be sure, but his playing time appeared be cut significantly. I have to give Chris Houston some credit. He’s been a stud. That’s good news for the defense.

Unless, of course, you’re Bill Bentley.

*(He did find a way to screw up thought. It wasn’t entirely Wendling’s fault but on Percy Harvin’s kick return TD, he hesitated a bit when taking the angle for the tackle and Harvin slipped away to the other side of the field.)

**(Previously known as Play Call. Game Plan is a better word. Plus it looks better in all caps.)

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