6 keys to the victory of the lions on the planes
In Week 15, the Detroit Lions travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets in a two-team battle in hopes of preserving their playoff hopes.
Let’s take a closer look at the key things the Lions need to do against the Jets in order to keep their winning streak going. Check out the odds for this game from our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Aircraft base plans
On offense, offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur (a Mount Pleasant, Michigan native and younger brother of Packers coach Matt) brings a fast passing offense rooted in Kyle Shanahan’s core concepts that were influenced by his father, Mike.
On defense, defensive coordinator Jeff Olbrich (who played linebacker for the 49ers for a decade) reached out to Jets head coach Robert Saleh during their stints as assistant coaches in Seattle, bringing in Pete Carroll’s 4-3 (Wide-9) Cover-3 Area-scheme Standing with him – basically the same scheme that Saleh fought with the 49 people.
In essence, the Jets defense wants to stop the pass, so they usually rush for four and drop seven in coverage, living in sub-packs 85-90 percent of the time. To keep their secondary from getting burned, they deploy a strong front, loaded with talent — both starters and depth — and push up to 10 players through the formation in order to keep them fresh.
On the back end, they are more consistent in posting their players, usually sticking to a starting seven, but are equally talented players who are comfortable operating in space and are aggressive in their pursuit of the ball.
“Well, the style they play is exactly what I see from Coach Saleh,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said of the Jets’ defensive scheme. “I mean, they (are) shuffling a lot more coverage than I remember. And a lot of that — Coach Ulbrich there, who did it while he was in Atlanta and played several years. Basically, step up, create upset, don’t allow double teams. And then, run and hit, man.”
The Jets defense holds a DVOA rating of sixth, ninth against a run, and sixth against a pass.
The Lions’ offensive line needs to bring up their A-game
Force versus force, this game is to be won in the trenches, and it will be the best force-on-strength battle when the lions are on the attack and the planes are on the defense.
Jared Goff has been cooking lately and the main reason for that is because his offensive line has given him time to sit in the pocket. He’s shown to trust them to do their job, often sticking around and making the hard throws.
Over the last six matches, Goff has bowled 206 times. During that period, he was pressured 60 times (29%) and dismissed only six times (less than 3%), including three games in which he was never ejected. Essentially, Goff is pressured in less than a third of his throws and is thrown out in only 10% of those pressures.
In a running game, the Lions’ power gap scheme is the perfect counter to the aggressive front wide 9. With the Lions shifting/pulling their offensive linemen, it can allow them to use jet aggression against them, making it easier to get them out of the gap where the run is designed. The key to this work is to improve efficiency and production on the ground.
Re-establishing Earth Efficiency
D’Andre Swift didn’t look like the linebacker he did at the start of the season, but now that he’s back in health, he’s starting to get up to speed with the game again. Jamaal Williams remained a force on the goal line, but struggled between the 20s against the Bills and Vikings. Justin Jackson has been inconsistent but brings out his best game as a Lion.
“We have to get better at the running game,” Campbell said Monday. “We have to have better running efficiency on offense. That’s for sure. It doesn’t mean we have to run the ball more, it means we need to be more efficient, we can be with the guys we have up front, our tight ends, our running backs, all the something “.
Against the Jets’ gritty defense, the Lions will need to find some early-season magic from at least one of their running backs, because they won’t want to have a situation where they’re forced to punt against the Jets’ falling seven-in-cover defense.
Don’t stray too far from what was working
While the Lions will want to build their running game so it doesn’t become too one-dimensional, they also need to keep working with what’s been working for the past six weeks.
“We have plays and we have concepts that we feel are the backbone,” offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said Thursday. “No matter who the opponent is, we want to make sure we put them in, we make them work, and they’re good and effective for us. And when it comes to pushing, we’re able to move the ball around with those.” But I think we — every week — have a good balance of play-plan plays that are somewhat unique to the style of defense we’re up against, and then build on those concepts that we’re good at, that we can do in our sleep.”
Johnson was a very creative player and it will be important if you hit the field like he did. By taking advantage of speed from their outside receivers – namely DJ Chark and Jameson Williams – the Lions can stretch the Jets’ territory underneath which will open things up for Amon-Ra St. Louis. Brown and, ideally, jogging. The Jets’ scheme can be vulnerable to running backs from catching passes from the backfield and all Three Lions running backs can do so efficiently.
Play the field position with Jack Fox
Jack Fox has been a choppy weapon in the field lately, and while it’s fun to see fourth-rate fakes/conversions, the Lions would be wise to rely on their super punter in this game. This game is expected to be a tight competition and the points will be high, so it will be important not to let the Jets get short field and an easy potential score. Instead, the Lions would be wise to play the field position game and lean on their offense to show up when it counts.
Catch planes under 90 yards speeding
The Jets are a first-run team but they struggle when the opposition takes that option away from them.
- In five games the Jets have been held under 90 rushing yards, they have been 0-5, averaging just 10.6 points per game.
- In the eight games they rushed for over 90 yards, they were 7-1, and averaged 26.4 points per game. This is an amazing contradiction.
Making things even more difficult is that the Jets didn’t start running back Bryce Hall. In his stay, they turned to UDFA rookie Zonovan Knight and sophomore running back Michael Carter to carry the load over the last six games, and while they’ve had some success, the Jets are 2-4 over that span.
In the past four games, the Lions have rushed three of their opponents under 95 yards and won each of those three games. If the Lions’ defense can remain effective against a run, they’ll have a chance to force the Jets into an uncomfortable position where it’s difficult to score runs.
Have Mike White earn his throws
Jets quarterback Mike White has earned a lot of respect in the locker room, returning to last week’s game not once, but twice, after needing to come off with a rib injury. White has been restricted all week in practice but insists he will start against the Lions.
Rib injuries are a challenge for midfielders. They limit body rotation and affect throws, often resulting in lower speed or even accidental toppling. They also take their toll as the game goes on, making throws more difficult to complete later in the game.
It would be beneficial for the Lions to have White earn his throws and punish him when he did. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating them targeting White’s ribs, but if they can take home their pressures – the Lions averaged 24 pressures per game over the past month – they will be felt.
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