Lions Insider

TWENTYMAN: A win Sunday and the Lions prove they're legit NFC contenders

Posted Oct 3, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 3-1 Lions prepare for a Week 5 divisional showdown with the Green Bay Packers

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

Kevin OgletreeOgletree. (AP Images)

Do you like this pickup of WR Kevin Ogletree? Steve Jarzambek (@SteveyJ5)

20man: I have to be honest and tell you that I really don't know much about it him other than what I've briefly seen in highlights.

I know the Lions like his blend of speed (4.36 at 2009 Combine) and experience, and think he can fit in with what they do offensively and make plays in space.

He's got somehwat of a lanky frame, but has a good burst. He had a productive season in 2012 with 32 receptions for 436 yards and four scores.

Ogletree had eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Giants last year and three catches for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. He's shown he can be very productive.

He also had seven games last year where with one catch or fewer.

I think it's worth a look to see if his speed and a rejuvenated spirit that sometimes comes with a fresh start can fit into a Lions offense. The Lions like to pass the ball about 60 percent of the time, so there are opportunities.

The Lions didn't give anything up to get him, so let's see what he's got.

How fast should we expect to see WR Kevin Ogletree on the field? Can be pick up the offense in less then a week? Josh Locke (@joshandemily6)

20man: That might be tough, Josh.

If the Lions were in a bind at receiver, I could maybe see it, but Patrick Edwards practiced in full Wednesday and is expected to be back Sunday in Green Bay.

I think Kris Durham has proven he can make plays and Ryan Broyles will continue to get stronger in the slot.

Not to mention tight end Brandon Pettigrew is coming off his best game of the season.

Unless the coaches really feel like Ogletree can help them right away in the slot, it might take an extra week to learn the playbook enough for coaches to feel comfortable with him out there.

What is the most important thing that the lions have to do or avoid doing in order to be successful on Sunday in Green Bay? Marc Lajoie (@MarcLajoie3)

20man: The offense did a terrific job of limiting the three-and-out possessions last week vs. Chicago. They had just one.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn't need any extra possessions. I think the Lions need to do a good job of maintaining possession, driving the football and keeping the ball away from the explosive Packers offense.

Green Bay ranks 28th against the pass and will be without cornerback Casey Hayward. Stafford and Co. should have plenty of opportunities to make plays and score points.

Leshoure still in play for a trade? Get our pick back? Brandon Kerr (@SFHCommissioner)

20man: Here's where I stand when it comes to Leshoure.

He's never regained the form he had pre-injury. That's just my observation from watching him before the Achilles injury and after. That's not to say he can't be very productive, he did score nine touchdowns last year and could have had a 1,000-yard season if not for the suspension to start the season.

Leshoure still has value to the Lions in case of an injury to Joique Bell. In that scenario, Leshoure can come in and play the power package and get some tough yards.

I think it's wise for the Lions to hang onto him for that very reason.

Now, when Montell Owens comes off short-term IR, things maybe change a little bit. Owens will be active on gameday because of what he brings to the table on special teams. He's also a very capable runner and can fill a role there.

At that point, maybe Leshoure becomes a little more expendable, but not until Owens is back, unless the Lions get an offer they can't refuse.

What are the historic stats for R. Bush rushing on Turf vs. Grass? Chris Cooper (@Coop_MTU)

20man: Funny you ask, Chris, because I wrote on this yesterday.

Bush has a career 4.6 average per rush in 53 career games on artificial turf. He's also scored 17 touchdowns.

He's played 41 games on grass and his average drops down nearly a half-yard to 4.1. He has 13 touchdowns on grass.

Bush said he prefers to play on grass because it's softer, but it's no surprise his production has been better on turf because he's played the majority of his home games on turf and his game is predicated on speed and cutting.

There you have it.

Can Detroit's corners hang in against A. Rod and the packs WRs? David Wilson (@jayhawk4life35)

20man: I'll certainly feel better about if Chris Houston plays.

But I don't think there's any secondary outside of maybe Seattle's that can really stop an MVP quarterback like Rodgers the way the rules are structured and him having three terrific receivers and a very capable tight end.

Rodgers has posted a combined 110.1 passer rating against divisional foes in the regular season, completing 635 of 914 passes (69.5 percent) for 7,611 yards and 61 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.

He's simply one of the best in the business and the best way to contain him is to keep the football away from him or keep up with him on the scoreboard.

The onus is on Detroit's front four to rush him with all four players and keep him contained.

I don't like this matchup for a lot of cornerbacks, and that includes the Lions.

What is the more significant matchup, the Lions Offense vs. the Packers Defense or the Packers Offense vs. the Lions Defense? Timothy Westra (@TimothyWestra)

20man: I preface this by saying I think both offenses with have success and score points. This game has the potential for each team to score more than 30.

However, Detroit's defensive line is the key. The Packers have struggled at the edges of their offensive line, and if the defensive ends can get pressure, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley could find themselves with plenty of opportunities to clean plays up in the middle.

If the Lions are going to win, their defensive line has to press the issue.

Do you think moving Coach Gunther Cunningham upstairs has helped? Alex (@alekacovski)

20man: It's hard to argue with the results so far.

Cunningham has said publically that he likes being in the box and seeing the entire field.

The Lions are forcing turnovers (11) and have been the best defense in the NFL so far on third down (21.3 percent). I think someone with Cunningham's experience being able to see the whole field on third down is helpful.

The Lions haven't been dominant on defense so far, but it seems they're making the proper adjustments when needed and Cunningham has credited his being up in the box with some of that.

Is Slay ready to face Mr. Rogers? Mike James (@MJamesNews)

20man: He better be.

He's going to get the call if Houston's hamstring doesn't allow him to play.

The Lions have tried to put Slay in situations where he can succeed, but he might be asked to take on a huge role in Sunday's game plan.

The one benefit Slay has is that safeties Louis Delmas and Glover Quin have been playing at a very high level and have helped clean up some of the play on the outside.

Slay was drafted in the second round because the Lions love his physical talents. If he's called upon Sunday, he has to start making good on that faith the Lions coaches showed in him. It'll be a good test to see where he's really at in his development.

He can certainly get a lot of help from his defensive line, but Slay is going to have to limit the mistakes and continue to make some of the plays he's flashed in four games.

What would a win at Lambeau mean for the Lions this early in the season? Bond (@BondxDD)

20man: Quite frankly, Bond, it would be huge.

Imagine if the Lions were to break their streaks in Washington and the State of Wisconsin over a three-week stretch. Not to mention it would essentially be a two-game swing on the Packers, who've really been the measuring stick in the division for years.

The Bears face a tough matchup vs. New Orleans at home, so a win could not only give the Lions all the confidence in the world, but separate them from the rest of the NFC North.

It would also mean they'd have beaten all three teams in the division already this season and guarantee themselves a .500 mark in the NFC North, which is a tiebreaker for postseason play.

A win Sunday and the Lions prove they're legit NFC contenders.