FanPost

"Lack of run game" gripers need to evolve



Ok, so I've seen a ton of those that constantly whine and moan that the Lion's desperately need a run game.  However, I think many of you are just stuck in the past and unwilling to see the evolution of the game that is taking place today.

Team's no longer NEED a run game.  Sure, it is helpful, and there are teams that still base their identity on having a solid run game.  But the current offensive evolution is for a team to focus on having an elite QB who can be accurate and exploit match-ups, which are created by the offensive schemes.

In the past, as the WRs got bigger, taller, and faster, defenses started to roll over safety coverage to help the undersized CBs.  Think about the success of the Tampa 2 and the rampant use of 2 deep coverage schemes.  Offenses would then combat this by using the running game to bring up safeties to help stop the run.  This would, in their logic, bring back the advantage to the WR who could get one on one coverage.  But over the years, this was still not effective.  Defenses started to draft hybrid players, especially LBs and DEs, who could not only jam the run, but play pretty descent pass coverage.  So, defenses were still able to keep their safeties back to help the CB, while the LBs, and even some DEs, keyed on the run and pass.

Obviously, offenses noted this and also evolved to where we are today:  the use of two TE sets, where both TEs have speed, are taller, and are more adept at the pass game than the blocking.  This allows them to overcome the athleticism at the LB position.  Sure, there have been a ton of 2 TE sets over the years.  But it used to be teams had one pass catching TE and another for blocking.  This is definitely not the case anymore.  Now many successful teams use 2 pass catching TEs to exploit the LBs who are a bit behind them athletcially. A perfect example is NE's use of two TEs who are basically WRs.  Or Detroit's use of Scheffler and Pettigrew.  Heck, we even cut our fullback position so we could have a third TE to run 3 TE sets. 

What this accomplishes is the same as the old school logic of using the run game to set up the pass.  Though now, you use the pass to set up the pass.  Having more athletic and taller TEs run out into the middle puts a ton of pressure on the LBs.  This causes safeties to now have to make a choice, either help the CB or help the LB.  Either way, it's a lose-lose for the defense.  If the safety goes to the middle, then the WR has one on one on the sideline.  If the safety helps the CB, then the middle gets exploited.  In conjunction with this, as the LBs are drawn out into covereage, the flat and middle also allows the RB to get into space, where their speed can be better utilized.

The key to all this though is that a team needs a very smart QB who can break down the defensive scheme at the line and make sure he knows exactly where the mismatch is going to be.  Then, the QB needs to have the accuracy to throw into the small window that he is given (LBs are still athletic enough to cause problems while in coverage).   You will see, that the teams that don't have this type of QB will still focus on the run game to open up the outside.  But this really is not as effective since the chances for a big play are limited and you can't win in a shootout with one of the more evolved teams. 

As you watch a Lion's game, focus less on waiting for the run to set up the pass.  Instead, look to see which LB lines up to cover a WR, TE, or RB.  You'll notice Stafford will start to chip away at this mismatch.  Later in the game, you'll see Stafford attack which ever outside WR has one on one coverage as the defense moves coverage.   Either way, the pass set up the pass, and there is not the dire need to have a run game.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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