Every week, we take some of your questions for a Detroit Lions Mailbag (this week earlier due to the Lions being off). To ask a question for a future mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email me at email@example.com.
Now on to this week's questions.
Do u believe lions offense is to predictable? Our the receivers not actually good because they can't really get open ?
— Corey (@Pechouscorey) October 16, 2017
This is a dual-pronged question, Corey, and thank you for it. It's also one of the most common questions I've gotten over the past few weeks. So let's start with your second question about the receivers.
The receivers need to find ways to get better separation than what they've been getting. It's been a consistent issue this season and puts more pressure on Matthew Stafford than he should be getting; not because Stafford can't put a throw in a tight window but because it shrinks the margin of error for Detroit's entire offense.
The only receiver who seems to get consistent separation is Golden Tate, and he's injured. Kenny Golladay showed potential for that before his hamstring injury, but that's still an unknown.
As far as the predictability of the offense, there's something to it. For instance, when Nick Bellore comes in the game at fullback, Zach Zenner has been the running back. It's typically been a run, too. The Lions did this last year, also, with jet sweeps and tip-passes to Tate. That's a valid criticism of Jim Bob Cooter. Instead of using a different play once in a while, when it could be a big gainer, it turns into multi-play usage, where defenses can sniff it out.
Some of the play sequencing has been rough, too, but it's not entirely clear how much fault Cooter gets for that versus Stafford potentially changing calls based off what he sees. Plus, defenses are good, too. I take last week out of the predictability world because it's clear Detroit was hampered by only being able to run shotgun or pistol formations -- likely due to Stafford's injuries. That limits a run game and play-action possibilities.
But the play-calling has to improve. Cooter has shown some innovation and some really smart wrinkles, but the play-to-play work has not been as good as it needs to be for the Lions to have consistent success.
Not all of that is on Cooter or Stafford, though. Detroit's offensive line has been bad. The Lions have allowed 23 sacks this season and are on pace to give up 61 this season. That's an eye-popping number and would be 16 more than he's taken in any other season in his career. Consider this: The Lions are allowing an average of 3.83 sacks per game. Over his career, Stafford has taken an average of 2.3 sacks per game.
That has led to Stafford being injured and it can completely change an offense. Even if the Lions allow Stafford to be sacked 61 times, that's nowhere close to the NFL record. Philadelphia had its quarterbacks sacked 104 times in 1986. Arizona allowed 78 sacks in 1997 and Houston 76 sacks in 2002.
How many plays did Tebor get, and how'd he look?
— Patrick Stukkie (@patrickstukkie) October 16, 2017
It's tough to judge, Patrick, as Jalen Tabor has played only three defensive snaps. Nothing stood out to me -- other than him being on the field. That's a decent sign he's at least earning enough trust to get minimal reps at this point, though.
Detroit, as of now, doesn't need Tabor to be a major contributor with four cornerbacks ahead of him on the depth chart: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, D.J. Hayden and Quandre Diggs in the slot. My thought on him has always been that he should be in a position to compete for a job next year and nothing I've seen has taken from that yet.
It'll be interesting to see if he gets worked into the defense more -- or is even active more often -- after the team's bye this week.