Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why Lions fans shouldn’t mind the trip to London next year

Posted Oct 24, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 4-3 Lions prepare for a Week 8 matchup with the first-place Dallas Cowboys

Thoughts on NFL playing games in London? Nathan Cole (@NathanC0le)

20man: I like it, Nathan.

I would have had an issue with it if the Lions would have lost a home game in the deal, but it will be a road game for them.

Ford Field has become such a good home-field advantage for the Lions that losing one would have been a competitive disadvantage.

I wouldn’t be too broken up about playing Atlanta away from the Georgia Dome if I was a Lions fan, either. Since 2008, Atlanta is 35-9 at home. Only New England is better at 37-6.

If anyone should be mad about this it’s me and the other writers who cover the team. Wembley Stadium has an open-air press box. What’s up with that?

Do you think we make any moves before the trade deadline? Matt MacKenzie (@macjr0420)

20man: Do I think they will? I can’t really say yes or no with a whole lot of confidence.

Do I think they should? I do, but probably not the move a lot of you re thinking of.

To me, there’s a much greater need on this team at cornerback than there is at receiver. Detroit ranks 28th in pass defense. It’s an area that’s let them down in all three of their losses.

A cornerback can come in right away and play and have an immediate impact. Those guys are usually on an island, anyway. There’s not much scheme involved there.

If the Lions were going to make a trade, it would make more sense, to me, to get the help in the back end of their defense in the form of a physical cornerback, who can play at the line of scrimmage.

Kris DurhamWR Kris Durham (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Can Chris Houston regain his form? How much has Darius Slay progressed? Both key questions for the Lions heading into the trade deadline.

Most fans are calling for a receiver, but with Nate Burleson coming back, Calvin Johnson getting healthier and Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree emerging, that’s not as big a need in my opinion.

With Green Bay & Chicago beat up, and the landscape of this division, why shouldn’t expectations be to win it? Dennis Boyer (@dennisboyer1)

20man: The Lions are certainly expecting to win the division. I haven’t talked to a player or coach who doesn’t have that as an obtainable goal.

I, on the other hand, think the Packers are still the team to beat. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best player in this league and they’ve got a proven track record.

Until the Lions can put wins on top of wins, and then go and beat the Packers on Thanksgiving, I can’t pick the Lions to win the division just yet.

What has happened to our defensive front the past few weeks? We're getting no pressure! James Randall (@JamesARandall_)

20man: I know the defensive coaches are getting a little frustrated by it.

I think part of the reason is quarterbacks are getting the ball out very quick to try and neutralize them.

Another part, in my opinion, is they’re getting inconsistent play upfront.

People expected that from rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who hasn’t played a lot of football in his career. He’s flashed at times and disappeared at times.

But where’s Nick Fairley been? They need to get a lot more production there.

Also consider this. The Lions secondary hasn’t been very good at all. There’s not a lot of coverage sacks going on right now.

The defensive line and secondary are closely tied to each other’s performance. When one suffers, the other usually does too.

What is this Sunday's game determining factor? Andrew Halim (@AndrewHalim17)

20man: Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.

The Lions have forced one turnover in their three losses. They’ve forced 12 in their four wins.

The Lions and Cowboys are very similar teams:

  • Both quarterbacks have thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season.
  • They both feature Pro Bowl receivers and versatile running backs.
  • Both weak points on defense are the secondary.
  • They both have active front sevens.

The difference Sunday will be which team makes more mistakes and which team is able to capitalize on them.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a history of making those kinds of mistakes late in games when pressured.

Who do you expect to be the biggest asset this week? Diego Bonilla (@Diego_Bonilla_7)

20man: Reggie Bush.

When the Lions have played well on offense, and won games, they’ve been balanced on offense and have gotten explosive plays out of the run game.

They’ve averaged 114 yards rushing per game in their four wins. That drops all the way down to 63 in their losses.

If the Lions can control the football and keep it away from that talented Cowboys offense, they’ve got the edge at home.

Dallas is allowing 102.0 rushing yards per game this year.

Would you call DeAndre Levy your surprising Defensive player thus far this year? And how do you feel about Israel Idonije's Season? Big Ed (@BigEdsSTR_BigEd)

20man: Levy has certainly been good this year.

I think he’s really comfortable in the scheme. Don’t overlook the fact that he signed a three-year deal extension this offseason. That can really take a lot of pressure off a player and help them play much more relaxed.

He and Tulloch have both played well this year, but Levy has certainly been the biggest surprise. Four interceptions through the first seven games is the kind of playmaking ability this team lacked last year.

As far as Israel Idonije, he’d probably be the first one to admit he’d like to be having more of an impact. He’s a rotational player right now (15 snaps vs. Cincinnati).

He’s filling two roles both inside and outside, but has yet to record a sack, after getting 7.5 last year with Chicago. His four tackles are low.

The Lions need him to have more impact moving forward.

Who do you expect to be matched up with Dez Bryant? And do you think the defense will be able to get to Romo? Mike Nowak (@mikenowak32)

20man: It’s a little different this year in that defensive coaches have a lot of faith in the other corner opposite Houston. They’ve allowed the corners to play their sides more, instead of moving Houston around to play the opponents best receiver, like they did last year.

Quite frankly, the way Houston has played lately, that might be a good thing. The Lions have a lot of confidence in Rashean Mathis on the other side and he’s made some plays the last couple weeks.

I suspect the coaches will play it like they’ve been playing it, and wherever Bryant lines up, that corner will have to do his job.

As for the second part of your question, the Cowboys have been pretty good at protecting Romo this year. They’ve given up 16 sacks in seven games.

The Lions rank among the worst teams in the league generating sacks at just 13 for the year.

We’ve already seen this year (vs. Denver) that Romo can put close to 50 points on the board if he’s allowed to sit back and find receivers. If he’s pressured, we also know he can make a mistake or two.

Ndamukong Suh has to continue to play well. Ansah has to come out of his shell a little bit and be a factor.

Effective blitzes this week would help too.

When can we expect to see Burleson back? Nick Marzano (@nick_marzano)

20man: Circle that Chicago game, Nick.

Burleson is shooting for the Nov. 10 game in Chicago as a return date. I think it’s realistic. He’s already begun to lift weights (dumbbells) and the bye week will give him a little more than two weeks from today to get ready.

How do you think Waddle stood up to Bengal starting DE's? Impressed? Brandon Kerr (@SFHCommissioner)

20man: Waddle played 29 snaps at left tackle after Riley Reiff left the game with a hamstring injury and 14 plays at right tackle after Corey Hilliard went down and Reiff re-entered the game to play the left side.

I thought Waddle played better on the left side. He allowed one quarterback pressure from the left and two from the right.

I talked to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan about him earlier this week and he really likes him. He thinks he’s going to be a pretty good player for them moving forward.

I thought he handled himself well for being thrown in on the fly to his first NFL action.