Play-By-Play Breakdown Of Lions' First-Team Offense Against Broncos

The Lions' first-team offense played the entire first half last Saturday against the Broncos, appearing in a total of four series. Led by Matthew Stafford, the Lions scored on every possession with the first-team offense on the field, racking up one touchdown and three field goals for a total of 16 points.

Drive #1 - Starts at DET 20 with 14:56 to play in the 1st
  • 1st & 10 (DET 20): Coming out in a shotgun formation with two receivers to the right and two tight ends stacked on the line of scrimmage to the left, Matthew Stafford passed the ball to Jahvid Best in the flat for a gain of three yards.
  • 2nd & 7 (DET 23): Now under center, Stafford handed the ball off to Best, who ran outside to the left for a gain of four yards. Dominic Raiola pulled on this play and served as Best's lead blocker.
  • 3rd & 3 (DET 27): Stafford's pass to Calvin Johnson was incomplete, but the play didn't count because of offsetting penalties. Detroit was flagged for an illegal formation and Denver was called for defensive pass interference.
  • 3rd & 3 (DET 27): The second time around, Stafford completed a pass to Nate Burleson for a gain of six yards. Stafford was in the shotgun with four receivers wide and found an open Burleson on an inside route.
  • 1st & 10 (DET 33): Best broke to the outside with Jerome Felton leading the charge and picked up 15 yards. As Best was brought down, a Denver defender grabbed his face mask for a 15-yard penalty.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 37): With one tight end (Brandon Pettigrew) and three receivers, Stafford hit Calvin Johnson out of the shotgun for 14 yards. Pettigrew ran down the middle of the field and cleared a lane for Johnson, who cut in to make the catch.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 23): Best got the handoff, stopped and found an opening to the left after cutting back. A defender was still in his face, but he simply hit the corner and outran him to pick up 11 yards and another first down.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 12): Kevin Smith came into the game and got a carry that went for three yards. There wasn't a lot of room to run, so Smith only went for a short gain.
  • 2nd & 7 (DEN 9): Out of the shotgun, Stafford zeroed in on Pettigrew and threw it to him in the end zone. Unfortunately, the pass went through Pettigrew's hands. It would have been a tough catch, but Pettigrew should have made it.
  • 3rd & 7 (DEN 8): Stafford tried to hit Calvin Johnson on a fade in the back-left corner of the end zone, but the timing was off and the pass hit the ground for an incompletion.
  • 4th & 7 (DEN 8): Steven Hauschka made a 28-yard field goal.
  • FG DRIVE: 10 plays, 4:23 time of possession
Drive #2 - Starts at DEN 27 (thanks to a Dre Bly interception) with 5:48 to play in the 1st
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 27): Best ran to the right for a gain of seven yards. The offensive line opened up a big hole, allowing Best to pick up the solid gain.
  • 2nd & 3 (DEN 20): With two backs next to Stafford in the shotgun, he threw the ball up for Calvin Johnson again in the back-left corner of the end zone. This time the pass was a rocket and Johnson simply out-jumped the only corner on him to make the touchdown grab, giving Detroit a 10-0 lead.
  • TD DRIVE: 2 plays, 0:37 time of possession
Drive #3 - Starts at DEN 43 with 3:03 to play in the 1st
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 43): The exchange between Stafford and Best was fumbled, but Best quickly fell on it for a loss of three yards.
  • 2nd & 13 (DEN 46): Stafford hit Best on a checkdown pass for a gain of seven yards. There didn't appear to be anything going for the Lions on this play, but the short pass was turned into a solid gain thanks to Best quickly getting up the field.
  • 3rd & 6 (DEN 39): Tony Scheffler ran a crossing route and caught a pass in stride to move the chains with a gain of 13 yards. It was a simple play where Scheffler simply outran his coverage and created enough space to pick up the first down.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 26): Best got the ball on a handoff out of the shotgun and picked up three yards.
  • 2nd & 7 (DEN 23): Continuing to run a no-huddle offense, Stafford hit Burleson on a curl route for eight yards and another first down.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 15): Quickly getting up to the line, Stafford handed the ball off to Best, who ran for eight yards. Denver didn't have many defenders in the box, allowing Best to have quite a bit of room to work with before he was brought down.
  • 2nd & 2 (DEN 7): The Lions got the snap off with a second to go in the first quarter and Best made a couple of cuts to pick up two yards and yet another Lions first down.
  • 1st & goal (DEN 5): The Lions started to go in the wrong direction starting with this play. Best tried to dance his way to another gain, but a Broncos defender brought him down for a loss of a yard.
  • 2nd & goal (DEN 6): The Lions went backwards even more on this play, as Stafford was sacked for a loss of nine yards. Stafford had time but simply couldn't find an open man downfield, and by the time he tried to scramble, two Broncos defenders brought him down.
  • 3rd & goal (DEN 15): Stafford faked a handoff to Best out of the shotgun, again couldn't find anyone open and this time managed to scramble to the left side for a gain of six.
  • 4th & goal (DEN 9): Hauschka nailed a 27-yard field goal to put the Lions up by 13 points.
  • FG DRIVE: 11 plays, 4:45 time of possession
Drive #4 - Starts at DET 20 with 7:35 to play in the 2nd
  • 1st & 10 (DET 20): Burleson picked up five yards on a pass from Stafford out of the shotgun.
  • 2nd & 5 (DET 25): Out of the I-formation, Smith went nowhere after trying to cut to the right and getting met by a couple defenders. He tried to pop it to the outside after the cut, but things were sealed up by the defense.
  • 3rd & 5 (DET 25): Stafford went back to Scheffler on the same crossing route that moved the chains on third down on the last drive. The Lions simply flipped the formation, and this time Scheffler picked up nine yards en route to another first down.
  • 1st & 10 (DET 34): Smith caught a pass and picked up eight yards on a play-action.
  • 2nd & 2 (DET 42): Maurice Morris came into the game and picked up five yards with a nice cutback to the left. The offensive line again opened up a nice hole and Morris went to the backside for the five-yard gain.
  • 1st & 10 (DET 47): This time Morris seemed to miss the hole and only was able to pick up two yards.
  • 2nd & 8 (DET 49): Bryant Johnson caught a pass for nine yards on a slant. Stafford again was operating out of the shotgun and quickly found Johnson to move the chains.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 42): On another play-action, Smith ran to the middle and then out, making a catch for five yards before being flipped by a defender.
  • 2nd & 5 (DEN 37): Smith squeezed his way for a gain of three out of a singleback set.
  • 3rd & 2 (DEN 34): Stafford faked the handoff to Morris and then threw the ball to him for a gain of 23 yards. Denver had quite a few defenders in the box, leaving the left side of the field open for Morris to move the chains and pick up a big gain as well. This was the same play the Lions ran twice earlier on the drive, except this time it went for a big gain.
  • 1st & 10 (DEN 11): Stafford faked the handoff and threw the ball out of the end zone. Only two receivers ran a route, and with neither open, Stafford made the wise decision to throw the ball away.
  • 2nd & 10 (DEN 11): Stafford hit Scheffler in the end zone, but the ball deflected off his finger tips for an incompletion. Stafford did throw a rocket of a pass, but Scheffler still should have caught it for a touchdown.
  • 3rd & 10 (DEN 11): Stafford scrambled to the left and had Bryant Johnson open in the back of the end zone, but because Stafford was so off balance, the ball sailed over Johnson's head for an incompletion. It's a good thing that Stafford did make it so no one could catch it, because had the pass been underthrown, it could have been picked off.
  • 4th & 10 (DEN 11): Hauschka kicked his third field goal of the game, this time making it from 29 yards out.
  • FG DRIVE: 14 plays, 6:36 time of possession

Although the offense struggled mightily once it got inside the red zone and the Lions had to settle for field goals more often than not, Stafford and company looked very impressive. Best showed off more of his explosiveness and Stafford's various targets did a good job of moving the ball, especially on third down.

The one thing that I have noticed the most about the first-team offense is just how many different playmakers there are. It all starts with Stafford, of course, but on a third down, for example, he can go to Best out of the backfield, Scheffler on a crossing route, Burleson on a curl, Bryant Johnson on a slant or Calvin Johnson, well, anywhere. Add Pettigrew and Smith into the mix and the Lions' offense has the potential to be very dangerous, especially with the way Scott Linehan has been calling the preseason games. He has mixed up the formations quite a bit and used a lot of shotgun, which has been very effective for Detroit.

Needless to say, I'm very impressed with what the first-team offense has done so far in the preseason, and red zone struggles aside, they have shown a lot of promise in only seven series.

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