COORDINATOR CUT-UP: Lions need more from complementary weapons on offense

Posted Nov 20, 2013

The Detroit Lions are at their best on offense when they’re getting production from players other than their "big three"

Following last Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh, running back Reggie Bush told a few media members gathered around his locker that the offense couldn’t continue to rely on Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to carry the bulk of the offensive load.

Bush, who had just 31 yards on 12 carries last week, has certainly done his fair share of contributing this season. The Lions are one of only two teams in the NFL through Week 11 with a quarterback, running back and wide receiver in the Top-10 of their respective yards categories.

Bush's point, however, was that this offense is truly at it’s best when some of the complementary pieces are productive.

Johnson had 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half in Pittsburgh, but was targeted just three times in the second half and did not have a catch.

"They came out in the second half and played a little bit more two-man (on Johnson)," Stafford said Tuesday. "For one reason or another we didn’t connect on some other guys.

"We just have to make plays down the stretch. That’s something we had been doing. We just didn’t get it done this last game."

After Johnson, the team’s second-leading receiver was Joique Bell with 48 yards and 37 of those came on a screen pass in the second quarter.

Joique BellRB Joique Bell (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Johnson finished with nearly more receiving yards (179) than every other pass catcher for the Lions combined (183).

The offense had been getting good production from some other pieces in recent weeks.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew had 70 receiving yards and a couple explosive plays in the win at Chicago.

Receiver Kris Durham had a couple big catches in the come-from-behind win against Dallas.

"We just weren’t able to execute some looks where we had a chance to hit some guys," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told "We either missed them or didn’t catch the ball. Those are things we’ve done before.

"I was more disappointed in that than anything. We had a meeting (Tuesday) and everyone could have done one more thing -- coaches and players -- to win that game. There were a lot of plays that we left out there."

The Lions could get a pretty nice complementary piece back on the field this week, if receiver Nate Burleson (broken forearm) is cleared to return to action. He hasn't played since a six-catch, 116-yard performance in Washington Week 3.