The evidence showing how important it was for the Lions organization to retain offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this offseason continues to pile up. This time, football analyst Warren Sharp posted a huge series of charts plotting Expected Points Added (EPA) by team. On the horizontal and vertical axes, two play characteristics that ought to be trade-offs were used to show if teams were good in one situation but not the other. As a reminder, EPA is a statistical measure that attempts to convert the significance of each play into its effect on the scoreboard. It is trying to figure out how much the play helped the team win, and more fractional points “added” are better for offenses.
In Sharp’s charts, higher numbers are to the top and the right, so the best teams in each chart are in the upper right quadrant. Teams in the top left or bottom right are only good at one thing, and teams in the bottom left are just lousy at everything. For example, Sharp’s first chart in the thread (which he created to show how unstoppable the Chiefs were) shows each team’s effectiveness against zone (vertical Y-axis) or man (horizontal X-axis) coverages. The Chiefs in the upper right were good against both, with high EPAs against either type of coverage. The Dolphins in the upper left were only good against zone, and the Ravens in the lower right were only good against man coverage. The Bears in the lower left were simply an unfortunate circumstance for Justin Fields.
This is a Ben Johnson appreciation tweet as well— Brady Quinn (@Brady_Quinn) February 25, 2023
What our fearless leader Jeremy Reisman quickly noticed after scanning the 22 charts (yes, there are 22 of them) is that the Chiefs weren’t the only team consistently way up in the upper right. Former pro quarterback Brady Quinn at Fox Sports also saw what Jeremy did: that the Lions were always really far up there, too. Versus single or two high safeties, play action or dropback, deep or short, and so on didn’t matter for the Chiefs but it also didn’t really matter for the Lions either. No matter the situation faced by Detroit’s offense, they were basically “good against everything.”
Now, we’re not saying Ben Johnson is the next Andy Reid. Have to do it for more than two-thirds of a season and all that, but you never know. Ben Johnson shows all the creativity and willingness to try things to keep defenses guessing that everybody loves.
We recommend scrolling through Sharp’s thread and drinking it all in, Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid style. One thing that pops out of the charts when they are taken together is the importance of Amon-Ra St. Brown to the Lions offense. The charts where the Lions appeared to be outstanding along only one axis essentially boil down to this: throwing to wide receivers (as opposed to RB/TE/OT) in the quick game (instead of longer than 3 seconds) under 10 air yards before Jared Goff comes under pressure. That sounds a lot like the Lions were amazing whenever the ball went to Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Now, on to the rest of your weekend Notes:
- Current Packers running back Aaron Jones and former Packers running back Jamaal Williams were joint guests on The Pivot podcast. Jones in the past spoke of Williams as being like a brother, so it’s not surprising they remain strong friends.
From our SBNation sister site Acme Packing Company, the two running backs are going to provide combine commentary during the running back drills in the NFL+ Players Only Combine.
- This is extremely cool:
Shout-out to @kingSol620, @lindzsays and the rest of the @Lions crew in New Orleans this week representing our team at the @HBCULegacyBowl Career Fair. https://t.co/xaStTgrdEW— Eamonn Reynolds (@Eamonn_Reynolds) February 24, 2023
- Also super cool from the team’s media folks a few days ago: a throwback post about a halftime show from the 2022 season - I had completely forgotten about this. A little bit of digging turned up a great story from CBS-affiliate WFMY Channel 2 in Greensboro about the performance. Even better, the North Carolina A&T folks actually posted an entire video of the show; as a former high school band geek I can tell you it is legitimately awesome. There’s a reason A&T’s homecoming event each year is called the “The Greatest Homecoming on Earth.”
- Former Lions special teamer Don Carey is a Chesapeake City Council member who is apparently running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
- MLive’s Ben Raven wrote about linebackers the Lions may be interested in at the 2023 scouting combine.
- Tim Twentyman at the official team site wrote about his top five safety prospects to watch heading into the combine.
- Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs will be hosting a youth event in March:
Former HCC player and starting cornerback for the Detroit Lions, @_luhjerry , will be hosting a combine for 1st-8th grade at Gowans Stadium on 3/11.— BGC Hutchinson (@bgchutch) February 24, 2023
We are excited to collaborate with @HutchinsonYMCA & @BlueDragonFootball
Register using the google link https://t.co/KqwNqSNZJp pic.twitter.com/cyGb7Hd279