I think Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's 2010 season can be summed up by the phrase "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." During most of the season, Linehan had to base his offense around a backup and third-string quarterback, as starter Matthew Stafford could not stay healthy. This led to Linehan having Shaun Hill as his starter for much of the season early on, Drew Stanton later in the season and then Hill again to close out the year.
Despite not having Stafford for most of the season (and also having an unhealthy Jahvid Best for a good part of 2010), Linehan's playcalling put the Lions in a pretty good position when it came to statistical rankings in the NFL. The Lions finished 15th in points per game and actually were at the top of this category during the early portion of the season despite only having one win. Detroit was at the top of the league in red zone touchdown percentage. The Lions were 11th in third-down conversion percentage, 12th in passing yards per game and 23rd in rushing yards per game. During the Lions' winning streak, the rushing game improved greatly and played a big part in the Lions' success down the stretch.
Based in part on his performance in 2010, what grade do you think Scott Linehan deserves for the job he's done as the Lions' offensive coordinator? As usual, my grade and thoughts are after the jump, and you can vote below.
Although there were occasional moments each game where I questioned the playcalling, I felt like overall Linehan did a pretty good job all things considered. He was innovative in introducing the pistol formation to the Lions' offense this past season, and one thing I especially liked was how the Lions spread things out so often. When Hill was at the helm, for example, working out of the shotgun with three- or four-receiver sets really worked well.
To me my grade goes back to the notion of making lemons out of lemonades. He had to deal with a few different QBs, and the most talented one played in the fewest games. Despite this, the Lions performed quite well on offense, especially in the red zone, and throughout the year there were a lot of flashes of brilliance. Is there still room for improvement (i.e. limiting lapses where the offense looks lost)? Absolutely. But part of the improvement involves having a healthy cast of characters. Based on what Linehan did with the players he had available to him for most of the 2010 season, I think he deserves a high B, which is simply reflected as a B in this poll.
I went back and forth between an A and a B for Linehan and settled on a B partly because the running game struggled so much until the end of the season. That wasn't all on him, but one thing that could use work is not being quite so stubborn when something isn't working. Establishing the run is important, but if your back is running into the pile for no gain every other play, perhaps it'd be worthwhile to try something else.
Whatever the case, I was impressed with the overall job Linehan did considering there were so many injuries. I think in 2011 if the starters on offense can stay healthy for the most part (especially Stafford) then the Lions will continue to get better and better on offense and show even more looks that will fool defenses. For now, though, I give Linehan a B for doing what he did with so many backups while realizing that there is still room to improve in the future.