Mike Ford is a real option at CB2 going forward
Undrafted free agent Mike Ford got his first taste of NFL action four days ago in the Lions win against the Carolina Panthers. While he did not impress last week, he did do enough to earn more playing time on Thanksgiving.
He looked a lot better against the Bears. While he did get beat underneath a few times, he kept everything in front of him, he did not miss any easy tackles, and never got scorched by Chicago’s speedy receivers. Ford may not be a “good” player, but he may be the best thing the Lions have opposite Darius Slay.
The corner is definitely not a long term solution—Detroit should still be looking to add two or three new corners this offseason—but he should be a starter for the remainder of the season.
Golden Tate is truly missed
If there is one thing Chicago is known for it is their amazing pass rush. Detroit tried to counter this on Thursday with quicker, shorter passes. While this works in theory, the Lions lack of play making after the catch hurt them big time. There were many plays where the likes of Bruce Ellington and Theo Riddick would make a quick catch then instantly be tackled in space by a defender. The quick thinking and footwork of Golden Tate, who would often send the defender stumbling the wrong way, was missed.
Detroit’s offense would have been a lot more successful had any of their receivers been able to get any yards after catching short passes. Plays that used to earn eight yards and a first down are now netting the team two yards. The offense needs a better option in the slot.
Detroit’s offense is finally getting creative
If you read this article every week you probably see me complain about the uninspired, conservative play calling from offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. It looks like he has finally found a creative spark, though.
On Sunday against the Panthers, Detroit used a variety of play calling wrinkles—like lining up Riddick at tight end for a shovel pass—to work their way downfield. While they had less success today, Cooter did show some flair in his play calling.
The Lions often had Ellington or tight end Luke Willson flank Matthew Stafford in shotgun. Fullback Nick Bellore was in the slot for a few plays and was another option on shorter pass plays. Detroit is usually a very stagnant offense pre-snap, but in this game, they used motion and jet actions pre-snap to throw off defenses. A long second half catch by Kenny Golladay that got the offense going for the first time all game was made possible by a pre-snap fake that threw off linebacker Roquan Smith.
It would have been nice to see this earlier in the season, as Tate would have been a fun piece in this new look Detroit offense. Nonetheless, it looks like Cooter is bringing out the big guns now that his job is on the line.