Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Who is to blame for all the turnovers?

Posted Dec 13, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 7-6 Lions get set for a big showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football

Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive through my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman," which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

Who poses the bigger threat to Detroit's defense: Torrey Smith, Ray Rice, or Dennis Pitta? Marty (@Martifilus)

20man: The Ravens aren’t particularly strong upfront on their offensive line, Marty. I think it’s been a problem for them all year and Ray Rice will continue to struggle running the football (3.0 average per rush).

Torrey SmithWR Torrey Smith (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

I talked to Glover Quin on Thursday and he told me the bread and butter for the Ravens offense is the deep ball. Baltimore has thrown 57 passes of at least 21-plus yards in the air this year. They’ll take five or six deep shots per game, which, to me, makes Torrey Smith the biggest threat.

If the Ravens hit a couple deep balls, especially early in the game, it can take the life right out of Ford Field and be a big boost for the road team.

Quin told me the No. 1 priority for the Lions defense this week is to limit the big plays in the passing game. They want to make the Ravens drive the football to earn their points.

Do you guys think turnovers are the result of bad coaching? Mike Trumbell (@michaeltrumblell)

20man: Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan aren’t out there throwing interceptions or fumbling the football. It’s ultimately the players’ responsibility to take care of the football.

That being said, coaches can play a part in helping to correct some of those things. Coaches can preach fundamentals. I wouldn’t go as far to call this fundamentally sound.

Coaches can also drill players on holding the football high and tight. Make defensive players slap at the ball and try to knock it out every time a ball carrier comes anywhere near them, even in a walkthrough. Spend extra time after practice on the jugs machine catching footballs and tucking them away.

Coaches can also put players in the best situation to succeed with play calling.

In the end, however, the game is played on the field and it’s ultimately Matthew Stafford’s responsibility to not throw interceptions. It’s Reggie Bush and Joique Bell’s responsibility to hang onto the football.

How hot of a seat is Jim Schwartz sitting on? Philly (@PhillyPhil55)

20man: I do not know what expectations the Ford Family or general manager Martin Mayhew placed on this season, but I’m guessing they were pretty high.

The Lions went out and got the missing piece on offense in Bush. They got bigger and more athletic on defense. By all accounts, they had themselves a really great draft and offseason.

There are still some areas where this roster is deficient, but what team doesn’t have that? That’s a byproduct of the salary cap.

This team is one of the more talented in the NFL, however, and if it doesn’t win the division, especially with the injury situations to the Bears and Packers, this season can be considered nothing more than a huge disappointment.

Things tend to get reexamined after disappointing seasons. That’s the case with every team, though.

If Lions win the North, who is our most likely first round opponent and how do we fare? Ian Prokes (@ianprokes)

20man: I’m going to guess that New Orleans and Seattle win the NFC South and NFC West, respectively.

The NFC North and NFC East will only get their division winners into the playoffs, which means the two wild card teams are likely to be the second-place teams in the South and West, which are probably going to be Carolina and San Francisco.

I like either matchup for the Lions at home, probably Carolina a little more.

The Panthers have a terrific defense, but I think the Lions can score on anyone at home. Can the Panthers score enough points?

San Francisco is tough matchup. Their defense is tough (third in points allowed), but quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled all year. The 49ers rank last in the NFL in passing offense. Can they score enough?

If the Lions win the division, I’d rather they get the No. 4 seed. If they make the playoffs (which is no guarantee) and then win their first-round matchup (again, no guarantees here), I’d rather go to Seattle as the No. 4 seed than to New Orleans as the No. 3 seed. This team matches up better with Seattle than it does New Orleans, in my opinion.

All this playoff talk is worthless, however, if the Lions don’t get hot over these next few weeks and win some games.

Is Reggie Bush expected to play this week? Brett (@Brett_Boi)

20man: Bush was back on the practice field today, Brett, and told media members Thursday he will play Monday night against Baltimore.

The Lions could certainly use him. They are 6-0 this year when they run for at least 117 yards. Bush’s 1,302 total yards are the eighth-most in the NFL.

Baltimore in a middle-of-the-pack defense against the pass and Bush could get some favorable matchups against Raven linebackers, who are better rushers and tacklers than cover men.

What’s the underlying problem perpetuating "SOL"? Is it discipline, mental toughness, team culture, something else? Brandon Garcia (@bjesus1358)

20man: I think you can certainly make a case for discipline, Brandon. I don’t think they play particularly smart at times. I see a lot of the same mistakes over and over again.

My biggest question with this is team is what do they hang their hat on? What is their identity?

You look at Chicago and you immediately think defense and turnovers. Getting turnovers is ingrained in every player on defense. They preach it, they practice it, getting turnovers is in the core of everything they do on defense. When opposing teams are asked about Chicago, they immediately say they have to take care of the football.

With New England it’s the details. They do a lot of the little things right and it allows them to plug anyone in and still be successful.

The Eagles last week were going to run the ball with LeSean McCoy and no one was going to stop them. They’ve been that way all year.

The Lions have a physical defensive line and a terrific deep weapon in Calvin Johnson, but what is their identity?

Until they hang their hat on something, become known for it, and start winning football games on a consistent basis, "Same Old Lions" will always creep into the conversation from this fan base.

What are the lions long-term plans for Mikel Leshoure? He's been inactive all season. Mike Lew (@SweetnessMLew)

20man: Bush and Bell aren’t going anywhere next year and I suspect Leshoure wants to play more football moving forward.

The fact that he doesn’t play special teams really hurts his value with the Lions. If he was good on special teams and found a niche there, he’d be good to keep as a backup.

I would suspect the Lions would try and move him in the offseason. Leshoure can start fresh and the Lions can possible get something for him, maybe a late-round pick or something.

It seems that we still don't have a go to 2nd receiver even with Nate back. Can Fauria be used in more sets? John Gillenwater (@johngillenh2o)

20man: You are right, John, the Lions don’t have that true No. 2 receiver. They have tried, instead, to fill that role by committee. Sometimes it’s worked just fine, other times they’ve missed that true No. 2 threat.

The Lions have gotten just two 100-yard receiving performances from players not named Calvin Johnson. Bush had 101 Week 1 vs. Minnesota and Nate Burleson had 116 Week 3 in Washington.

They will have six players catch at least 30 passes, though. It’ll be the first time in franchise history that’s occurred.

The Lions don’t have that receiver on the roster that can consistently be a 100-yard producer. A player other defenses have to game plan for. It’s something they’ll address in the offseason via the draft or free agency. They need a player opposite Johnson on the outside, who can consistently win the one-on-one matchups.

Kris Durham is a possession receiver and Burleson is good in the slot, but hey need their version of Alshon Jeffery in Chicago.

Joseph Fauria isn't the answer just yet. He's got to become a better route runner before he can consistently put up numbers.

Can we win the next three games? I know it's a tough question but from your perspective, is it possible? Charles Pipp (@cpipp21)

20man: They should be favored in every game and all three are indoors on fast tracks, Charles.

It is certainly possible if they simply get out of their own way, limit the turnovers and play like we've seen them play at times this year.

The Lions are more talented than the next three teams they play.

What will they be looking to draft in April? What are they missing to get to the next level? Mike Hemphill (@mkyhemphill)

20man: It’s way too early to really answer this question because who knows what will happen with free agency and injuries and a number of other factors.

I will say this, though. I think the Lions are a safety, cornerback and receiver away from being a consistently good football team.