10 Things for the Lions to Improve in 2nd Half..

Hard work. The difference between the chump and the champion of the NFL lies somewhere between ‘sweat equity’ and ‘field position’. The Lions have done a great job of putting themselves in foreign territory. A trip to the playoffs would mean everything for a Renaissance city looking for its playoff rebirth.

If you think about these 10 must improvements as a Letterman style countdown you will see what I feel is THE most important improvement the Lions can make, before their November rematch with an improved and motivated  Chicago Bear football club, at the bottom of this list. Thanks for the comments in advance.

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10. 3rd Down Conversion %- Only the Miami Dolphins have a worse conversion percentage at 26% percent. Lack of running game could be a reason. Something to improve on especially for late 4th quarter comebacks.

9. Offensive Penalties- Lions are 3rd in the league in Offensive penalties. If the Lions can cut the penalties down 30% in the 2nd half of the season it could be the difference in a 3 point win or a 7 point loss.

8. Rushing YPG(Yards Per Game)- You do not need me to tell you that the Lions run game is poor. The Lions will not move dramatically up on down this category. The break for the Lions, only 2 cold weather games remain on the schedule. So fear not Lions fans, the ball will be in the air a lot over the last 8 regular season games.

7. Defensive Penalties- The Lions have done a much better job in the weeks leading up to the bye week. Earlier in the season however you could count on early starts from our Defensive Line and more importantly ‘silly’ personal foul penalties that led to opponents points and prolonged offensive series. The Lions must stay ‘heady’ as the pressure will only increase in the 2nd half.

6. Rush Defense- The Lions have an aggressive defensive scheme especially on passing downs. The Lions have developed a ‘nasty’ persona but remain extremely vulnerable to the half back delay or ‘trap’ play. 3 NFL opponents (Forte, Gore, Turner) had runs over 40 yards on plays that looked similar. Lions will need to support the overplay of the weak side LB and insure the strong safety doesn’t over pursue the trailing tailback.

5. Defensive Snaps- The Lions have the 2nd most Defensive plays in the NFL. That is not a good thing. The offensive 3rd down percentage doesn’t help but the Lions D has to eliminate penalties that continue drives.

4. Nate Burleson- The Lions #2 is having a #4 receivers season 26 receptions  245 receiving yards 1 TD. Burleson’s continued absence will only empower defensive coordinators to roll safeties over the top to back cover Megatron. If Nate can become part of the offense in the 2nd half the Lions offense has a chance for the ‘high powered’ tag applied to the team they look up to in the NFC’s North Division.

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3. Jeff Backus- I believe the Minnesota Viking game, even with a win, was the beginning and the 2nd half will not get any easier for Backus. Backus will continue to get ‘worked’ on the left side unless Scott Linehan brings in more 3 TE sets. With the ‘screen pass’ no longer an effective offensive option, in Best’s absence, the Lions need to continue to quick pass to Tony Scheffler and Byron Pettigrew to keep both Backus and more importantly Matthew Stafford upright.

2. Weakside LB Coverage James Durant/Bobby Carpenter- Now I know you guys will think I’m nuts calling for a need for improvement. But if you take out the Romo/Carpenter interception party the weak side LB has been a thorn in the Lions side. Let’s just say if the weak side LB would have been in proper position ‘handshake’ gate would have never happened. The pass that scored the winning touchdown from Smith to Walker was a missed assignment. Add that huge gaff to the large number of 20+ runs and it is imperative the left side line backing tandem stay home and avoid the missed assignment.

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1. Matthew Stafford’s on-field demeanor- Ok Ok.. if you’re disappointed in my #1 just read me out. In the worst game the Lions have played this season, The Falcon game, it was the quarterback who looked like he and his girlfriend had fought the night before. Matthew Stafford is important to the playoff push of the Lions, but again that’s not splitting any atoms to any of you. When there is a bounce in Stafford’s step there are few better professional quarterbacks. However, when #9 is either thinking about his ‘blind side’ or his legs you can actually see him ‘sweating’ and worrying more than you or I would like. His feet haven’t gotten Joey Harrington happy but if the pride of Highland Park(TX) can’t relax and enjoy the game the Lions playoff chances could be UP. IN. SMOKE.

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