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Who’s to blame in the passing game? Game 5

MMM at cushion-y

While you wait for your beloved Lions to play on Monday Night in the regular season for the second time since I’ve been alive, let’s find the suspects most likely to make you curse at your TV tonight as Grumpy  Cutler throws the ball left, right, up the middle and deep. Especially deep.

While it’s a little late due to some shenanigans dealing with a World Series, Who’s to blame is the passing game is back after a bye week.

With 70-yard touchdowns, cornerbacks playing 15 yards off receivers and lots of yards despite Michael Vick getting hit just about every time he touched the ball, there’s a lot of blame to go around.

Strategy wise, the Lions’ goal was simple, prevent the deep play. Chris Houston and Bill Bentley gave DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and even Riley Cooper a 10-yard cushion every play, which only led to the Eagles racking up yardage on seven and 10-yard curls and outs. After giving up just 168 (adjusted) yards to the Vikings the week before the bye, the defense doubled that last Sunday.

Officially Eagles quarterback Michael Vick went 28-of-46 for 311 yards, but that doesn’t take into account the two pass interference penalties they had and another play that was negated when the Eagles accepted an offside penalty.

Vick’s actual stats were 31-of-49 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. How did that happen? Good question.

Personnel Changes

Louis Delmas left his role as the guy on the sidelines in sweat pants, itching his balls and actually played. That was nice to see, even if it did relegate practice team all-star Ricardo Silva back to the sidelines after a decent game.

Spievey occupied the second safety spot, meaning Erik Coleman was without a regular spot. I saw him one the field just one time.

Also, Jacob Lacey made a short return before getting injured. (He’s out tonight with a concussion. Bill Bentley is doubtful with a shoulder injury)

Pass touchdowns

Two and one wasn’t pretty for the Lions secondary. Let’s start with the less embarrassing one.

LeSean McCoy, two-yard pass from Michael Vick.

Nothing really special here, McCoy ran up a couple of yards, turned around and the Lions linebackers misread the play, thinking run and were blocked out of the way as McCoy went into the endzone.

Jeremy Maclin, 70-yard pass from Michael Vick.

Just an utter disaster. From the start, it was apparent no one on the field has any idea what they’re doing. The Lions cornerbacks switched sides of the field before the snap. Erik Coleman ran up, looked to the sideline, ran back back to the defensive backfield, then ran back up to the line of scrimmage. He ended up blitzing, leaving three Lions to cover three Eagles on the other side of the field. Or so we thought.

It turned out three Lions covered two Eagles, as Louis Delmas covered an already covered guy and let Jeremy Maclin run free:

Now there’s a chance there was a defensive breakdown and the call wasn’t intended to have Delmas one-on-one with Maclin, but once things went down, Delmas has to know his responsibility. This is on him. All 70 yards of it.

Interceptions

The first two of the season, although neither came come on any spectacular play by a Lions player.

Early in the second, Vick tried to fit a deep ball behind the corner and the safety to Jason Avant. He overshot Avant and the ball headed straight for Delmas who jumped up and intercepted it.

In the fourth, DeSean Jackson gained a step on Chris Houston but Vick under threw the ball, leaving Houston as the only one with an opportunity to make a play on it. He did. Both earned an extra good coverage point, but you could make the case that neither deserved it.

Chart

Yards Touchdowns Good Plays INTs
Louis Delmas 95 1 2 1
Bill Bentley 53 0 1 0
Chris Houston 51.5 0 2 1
Jacob Lacey 49 0 1 0
GAME PLAN 42.5 0 0 0
Linebackers 35.5 1 1 0
Amari Spievey 14.5 0 0 0
Jonte Green (Minimal PT) 0 0 1 0
Ndamukong Suh 0 0 1 0

 

What have we learned?

Hold off on the Chris Houston Pro Bowl Party. He was abused by DeSean Jackson. His status has been downgraded from studly to just good. If he shuts down Brandon Marshall, we’ll all have to reconsider.

The only player the Lions have that could matchup with the league’s best speed receivers may be Delmas, but he’s a pure electric football player. He’s fastened to the fastest little stand you have, but you have no idea where the hell he’s going. Sometimes the speed is good. Sometimes it’s going in completely the wrong direction.

For tonight, expect a lot of 10-15 yard cushions on Devin Hester and possibly Brandon Marshall, which means expect a lot of 5 to 10 yard completions on outs and hooks.

For the rest of the season, don’t expect anything different from what you’ve watched the last oh 20 years or so. Pretty weak sauce all around.

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