Time once again for the Lions Congregation! As per usual, my responses are here, and check out the Church of Schwartz for answers from the best Lions bloggers on the web!
1. With Jason Hunter being our best D lineman so far, what happens when Cliff Avril returns?
Hunter has been getting pressure in bursts, but Avril still is more of a speed rush end where Hunter has been a bit stronger against the run. If anything, I think it solidifies a more fluid rotation to keep all of those guys fresh. Hunter showed up well early, but the entire Dline looked a bit gassed by the time the last Washington drive was coming up. We have to keep understanding that with Schwartz (and Cunningham) fresh legs on the Dline are a key component of the defense. Who is starting is not as important as the split of the snaps – the more talent there is, the easier it is for him to keep everyone fresh and putting the most pressure possible on opposing offensive lines. Avril, White and Hunter will see the bulk of the snaps, while Fluellen will continue to get his share, especially on running downs. Hunter and Avril are both young players, so this bodes well for depth at DE going forward.
2. With Kevin Smith ailing, what is your plan of attack for the Bears defense?
Run it up the gut still with Morris, Felton, and Brown and continue to run outside sweeps with all three. They are hurting at LB and having to bring at least 8 into the box to even hope slowing down the run game will be the case no matter who is the RB if the O-Line continues to play at the level it did against Minnesota and Washington. Chicago has good DT’s, but are they better than the Williams Wall, or Haynesworth – both of whom the Lions were able to run on? The heavy run will burn time off the clock, and then the play action game will lead to some great pass plays. With so many LB hurt, I would also attack the underneath routes and get Pettigrew especially matched up on a LB. This will force them to cheat a Safety on the short routes, and bring a LB in the box which will leave CJ or BJ open deep. It will prevent them from easily taking CJ away, and lead to more throws to him like we saw in the second half against Washington since taking him out of the game totally leaves the Lions with too many other options to beat you with (BJ, Pettigrew, and the run game). If Smith plays, but isn’t 100%, then expect him to be rotated with Morris, but also with Felton early. I would use Felton early and often to soften up the Bears’ weakness up the middle.
3. What’s your prediction for Bears – Lions?
24-16 Lions. I think this is another close game, but that the Lions take away the run game again (Chicago has had about as much success on the ground as Washington) which will allow them to apply pressure and keep Cutler rattled in the swirling winds of Solider Field. It will be your classic black-and-blue physical battle, with either team capable of winning. Unlike 2 of the Bears’ wins, however, they can’t at all count on Jason Hanson missing a pair of field goals to give the Bears a chance at victory. Lions pull the upset.
Due to personal matters, I wasn’t able to type up my game points summary for last week, but I will still be posting that here today or tomorrow.