I’m celebrating the big 3-0 today! All I want for my birthday is a Lions upset over the Bears. So how will the Lions make that happen for me? The Lions’ defense is banged up, but so is Chicago’s. Offensively, looks like Smith and Forte will be going for the two opposing RB, and both are a little dinged up.
This should prove to be a great game. Now that we have a real offensive coordinator, lets take a look at how to attack the Tampa 2 that Chicago is running.
They have trouble on defense, and are on their 3rd string MLB which, as we all know from our time with Paris, is essential to making the defense work…or not. Runs between the defensive tackles will be a must and I think that even with Smith banged up, the Offensive line can trade out who Raiola hits with a double team, while either Man-Ram or Peterman can handle the other DT. They were handling bigger, stronger DT’s than Chicago has for the last two weeks, so this should be very doable for Detroit. Even Felton up the middle will be picking up 4 -5 yards at a chunk and burning up the clock.
Another attack traditionally on the T2 will involve utilizing Pettigrew and Fitz in the seams behind the LB and in front of the CB’s. This should be softer than normal as the Zone oriented D-Backs focus on bracketing out Johnson & Johnson. They can also swing 34K or Morris out into the seam, or swing a WR inside to get matched up on a LB down the middle.
I also expect the Lions could be successful with a lot of “Missile Sims” type plays. These are the plays that Ernie and other Lions defenders constantly overran last year. With a heavy dose of run early, the fake sweeps and end arounds, as well as the play action game, will pull the MLB up to play run while Stafford zips it out to an open WR cutting across the vacated middle. Linehan also likes to use misdirection plays where there are 5 routes run by his 2 TE’s (or the TE and the FB), the RB, and the 2 WR out of a running formation with the TEs and/or RB’s sometimes hitting chip blocks before running shallower routes. This creates a layer of routes from short gain to home run with more “WR” than there are players to cover, making for at least one mismatch and likely a “WR” wide open.
For some more insight on how Linehan uses 3-4 WR sets out of his base formation, see a great film breakdown by Ty over at the Lions in Winter. LionsSully at Mlive sums up a little bit moreof how teams are attacking the T2:
“Recently, some teams have also been able to exploit the seam between the cornerbacks and the safeties, when the quarterback can throw a pass to a receiver in that seam faster than the safety can rush up to close it and cover the receiver. A recent trend is for teams to send a receiver up the middle, creating a mismatch against the linebacker in coverage. The popularity of the Tampa 2 means that offenses are now finding it effective to exploit the deep middle, where the safeties have to cover the most ground. ”
So the Lions will have plenty of ways to attack the Bears defense… in this case, the Defense that holds out best and the offense that produces best will win!