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Lions lack of pass rush is baffling

September 30, 2012
By Craig Remsburg - Senior Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

Detroit Lions fans have seen their favorite NFL team make a lot of mistakes over the years that have cost the club wins.

A lot of mistakes.

Last Sunday was no exception. With the Lions trailing 44-41 in overtime to host Tennessee, they had the ball at the Titans' 7 with a fourth-and-1.

The snap was mishandled, however, and backup quarterback Shaun Hill was unable to gain the yard for a first down.

Game over.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said there was "miscommunication" on the play, that the Lions were planning to go with a hard count in an effort to draw the Titans offside.

Someone didn't get the memo, however, and the team is now 1-2 heading into today's home game against the Minnesota Vikings.

But as much as that botched last play had to do with the Lions losing to the Titans, there was another factor that contributed just as much.

The Lions had no pass rush.

Titans' QB Jake Locker attempted 42 passes and was not sacked once. That bears repeating: Not once.

I'm sure the Titans' offensive linemen had something to do with that with their blocking. Locker may have shortened his drops and gotten rid of the ball quickly at times, too.

But where were Lions defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh, Kyle VandenBosch, Cliff Avril, Corey Williams and sub Nick Fairley? Out to lunch?

Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham likes to rush just the four down linemen, leaving the other seven defenders to drop back into pass coverage.

That's fine when the linemen are pressuring - and sacking - the opposing QB. But when they don't, that gives the signal caller too much time to dissect the Lions' injury-ravaged and weak secondary.

With so much time to find receivers, Locker wound up completing 29 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns.

The Lions have made their defensive line a priority the last few years, through free agency (VandenBosch), the draft (Suh, Avril, Fairley) and a trade (Williams).

But so far this season, the five have recorded a total of seven sacks in three games.

In addition, they have made 18 solo tackles and eight assisted stops.

Suh only has two sacks and six solo tackles with no assists. I'm sure opposing teams are double-teaming him with their blocking schemes, but that should free the others to step up and make plays.

Last Sunday, they didn't.

If the Lions are going to get back into the playoff race, and there's really no reason why they shouldn't as long as QB Matthew Stafford stays healthy, they need to get more of a pass rush than they're getting now.

Cunningham might even have to blitz a player or two (gasp) to fortify the rush.

If the Lions don't pressure opposing QBs like they should, the defensive secondary will be shredded to pieces.

That won't be a pretty sight.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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