Best’s monster game not enough in Lions 35-32 loss to Eagles

The game got ugly, but the Lions rallied back to lose a heartbreaker for the second straight week.  Jahvid Best almost single-handedly fueled the Lions to a win with the most dominating game by a Lions’ running back since the days of Barry.  Best had almost 80 yards rushing and over 150 receiving and topped it off with 3 touchdowns.

I am a big fan of the Lions’ coaching staff, but I have to question the gameplan they put together on defense and Scott Linehan’s inability to get Calvin Johnson involved in the gameplan.

Michael Vick had a good game today, but he did most of his damage against the blitz when he was able to escape the rush.  There were several Eagles’ third down conversions that shouldn’t have happened because the Lions missed tackles on Vick and he was able to expose the Lions’ coverage or pull it down himself. 

When the Lions didn’t blitz Vick he struggled to hit open receivers and didn’t do much on the ground.  Gunther Cunningham called an aggressive game against Vick when he was with the Chiefs in 2004 and had a lot of success, but he had a much better secondary and Jared Allen in that game.

The Eagles also took advantage of the Lions’ love of stunting on the defensive line by calling a lot of draw plays.  The Lions’ inability to adjust to the delayed running plays proved to be one of the most pivotal matchups in the game.  LeSean McCoy was bottled up on traditional running plays, but he gashed the Lions on delayed handoffs and scored two of his three touchdowns on draws.

The offensive gameplan was solid as the Lions were able to get Best on the perimeter like they wanted to.  However, we keep hearing opponents are taking Calvin Johnson out of the game because there isn’t anybody else they have to worry about.  Best had a huge game and the Eagles committed a spy to him, and Pettigrew was chewing them up over the middle yet Calvin didn’t get involved until late in the game again.

Defenses can take CJ away in the deep passing game, but he can break tackles better than almost any receiver in the league.  The Lions need to get him involved on slants, hitches and screens which will help create room for him deep later in the game.

I can’t fault the Lions on the decision to go for it on fourth down when they did, but I thoguht the play call was awful.  The full house backfield has two fullbacks and one halfback in the game, but all those bodies in the backfield can actually work against the offense. 

The defensive line got penetration which caused a pile up in the backfield as the two fullbacks piled up in the backfield.  The Lions have a hugesize advantage over the Eagles’ secondary with 6?5? players in CJ, Pettigrew and Scheffler and a 6?4? receiver in Bryant Johnson.  Those big bodies are difficult to defend on slant or curl routes, not to mention you could sneak a draw in there if you spread out the defense with three our four wide receivers.

The Lions didn’t roll over and came out ready to play this week.  They did collapse a little after the 4th down stuff took the air out of them, but they bounced back in a big way.  The Lions coaching staff needs to do a better job of adjusting to their opponents’  in mid game.  Best was shut down in the second half and the Eagles’ offense was able to get moving after they adjusted to the Lions aggressive approach.

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