As I wait impatiently for football I thought I would start a little discussion on projecting the Lions rushing attack against the Bears and Packers. As a caveat to Vikings fans I will say the Vikings have a much better Def than advertised in almost all categories.
First let's start with passing yards and why Detroit has not had as much success as you would expect:
Bears - yards/pass (25) 7.7 Total passing yards (14) 3,730
Pack - yards/pass (26) 7.8 Total passing yards (24) 3.956
Bears - yards/pass (4) 6.3 Total passing yards (8) 3,423
Pack - yards/pass (8) 6.7 Total passing yards (11) 3,492
Bears - yards/pass (7) 6.8 Total passing yards (28) 4,065
Pack - yards/pass (26) 7.8 Total passing yards (32) 4,796
The numbers above show that (except for the 2013 Bears) they have been better than advertised against the pass.
Next we will look at rush def:
Bears - yards/run (32) 5.3 Total rushing yards (32) 2,583
Pack - yards/run (29) 4.6 Total rushing yards (25) 2,000
Bears - yards/run (17) 4.2 Total rushing yards (8) 1,627
Pack - yards/run (27) 4.5 Total rushing yards (16) 1,896
Bears - yards/run (9) 4.0 Total rushing yards (5) 1,542
Pack - yards/run (26) 4.7 Total rushing yards (13) 1,789
You will notice this trend is exactly the opposite. Rushing def for the Bears and Packers is overrated and there numbers are lower because teams do no rush against them that often.
What does this mean for the Lions? This season the Lions have brought in a FB and have stated they plan to run 2 RB sets. They also will likely field a combination of Petti, Ebron, and Fauria on several snaps. The O-Line was upgraded last year and has quality depth behind it in Swanson and Austin, opening the possibility for some "jumbo" packages. Combine this all together and I think your going to see some old school smash mouth football this year in Detroit.
Yes I do understand that we have CJ and Ebron/Fuaria are not "great" blockers, but that is the best part of the strategy. For Defenses to account for guys like Ebron and Fuaria you have to go smaller by bringing in another DB or a coverage LB, making these mismatches in Detroit when running. In addition if you only field CJ then you make the defense decide whether to leave him 1v1 or bring a safety out of the box, creating a "soft" box against a 221 look (2RB 2TE 1WR). If that doesn't work we kick Ebron/Fuaria into the slot and see how many quality safeties teams can field.