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Notes: Detroit Lions running backs playing well despite blocking issues

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The slow start on the ground doesn’t have much to do with the running backs.

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Through four games, there’s no doubt that the Detroit Lions running game isn’t where it needs to be. The team ranks just 22nd in the league in yards per carry (3.9) and Kerryon Johnson is averaging just 3.4 YPC after averaging 5.4 in his rookie season.

But a couple stats suggest the backs aren’t the problem in Detroit. Johnson and the rest of the Lions backs are actually among the league best in yards after first contact. According to ESPN NFL Matchup, the Lions are sixth in the league in rushing yards after contact with an average of 1.85 yards per play.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that—as logically follows—Lions running backs are facing contact faster than almost any other team in the NFL:

Detroit will look to clean up their blocking coming out of the bye, as they face the Green Bay Packers’ 28th-ranked run defense (by DVOA).

  • PFF’s Timo Riske wrote a quarter-season takeaways piece that talks extensively about Matthew Stafford’s newfound aggressiveness. Here’s a snippet:

  • Our friends at Arrowhead Pride asked this, perhaps rhetorical, question:

And Twitter user—and Lions fan—@Yes_Its_Slim had the perfect response:

  • Bleacher Report tried really, really hard to create a Joker parody this week, and Matthew Stafford turned out to be their best effort as a punching bag. Not everyone is a fan: