Coordinator Cut-Up: Linehan says Lions are 'short one play as a team'

Posted Nov 29, 2012

The problem has been that neither the offense or the defense has made the one or two plays over the course of the game to change the outcome in the Lions' favor.

The Lions are putting up some historic numbers on offense. Receiver Calvin Johnson is within reach of Jerry Rice's all-time record for receiving yards in a season (1,848) and quarterback Matthew Stafford is honing in on another 5,000-yard season.

Yet that hasn't translated to wins.

It must be the fault of the defense, right? Nope. The defense ranks in the top half in the league in total defense and passing defense.

The problem has been that neither the offense or the defense has made the one or two plays over the course of the game to change the outcome in the Lions' favor.

"We're short one play as a team," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Thursday. "I think there's a couple games maybe we needed more than one. But there's been the last two games and even going back to earlier in the season where we're just a play short."

Last season at this point, the Lions were 7-4 and made those plays - especially on offense - to win close games. This year, the Lions are 3-6 in games decided by eight points or less.

"This year we're short a ball placement here, a catch here or a third down conversion, whatever it is," Linehan said. "We've got to figure out a way to get that one more play to get on the winning edge."

Center Dominic Raiola couldn't agree more.

"The stats baffle me just because of where we are as an offense and it's not equating to (wins)," he said. "We're not making the plays we made last year and that's the difference between 4-7 and what we were last year after 11 games."

That better change starting Sunday vs. Indianapolis if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Linehan was thrown a bit of a curveball last week when he lost No. 2 receiver Titus Young for disciplinary reasons.

It didn't seem to faze Linehan or the offense, though, thanks to rookie Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas.

"We called their number more than once and when we did, (they) made a play," Linehan said. "Mike Thomas got in the end zone, Broyles ended up with (126) yards. So for their first added impact, I guess, they were able to help us."

The Lions racked up 525 yards of total offense (419 passing) and barely felt the loss of Young.

"Well (Broyles and Thomas), we have a lot of faith in those guys," Linehan said. "Whenever you're given an opportunity you need to take advantage of it and I think both players did that last week."

The Colts' defense doesn't rank better than 19th in any statistical category, but that hasn't eased the mind of Linehan any. Rush linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis can do that to a coordinator.

"Anytime you've got Freeney and Mathis playing on the edge you've got some things you've got to deal with, challenges you've got to deal with offensively," Linehan said.

"(The Colts) keep the score down. I mean, they've had two or three games where (the) game's blown up on them but a lot of it hasn't always been their defense. I mean, other teams have scored on special teams or things like that. So, they've kept the games close and then they've been able to close out games in the fourth quarter."