It’s hard to fault a young player for trying to make a play and giving maximum effort. But when it comes to the fumbles by running backs
“We are trying really hard but we’re forgetting the small thing, which is securing the football in critical situations,” Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told Detroitlions.com. “Both (fumbles) were great effort plays – and you have to appreciate that – but both times were either on second or first down.
“You can’t score without the ball and if you give the ball away that takes away opportunities to put the ball in the end zone. We took points off the board with those turnovers.”
Leshoure’s fumble came with one minute, 32 seconds left in the first half with the Lions trailing 10-0. The offense was at the Bears 17-yard line and poised to cut into the lead. Leshoure was fighting for extra yardage when he lost the ball.
The Bell fumble occurred at the Bears’ 1-yard line midway through the third quarter with the Lions trailing 13-0. Bell tried to leap into the end zone and lost the ball when he reached it out away from his body.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said he liked the effort on both plays during Tuesday’s press conference, but also said players have to be aware of the situation.
“You never want to tell a guy don’t fight for yardage, but yeah you have to be ball secure,” he said. “Same thing with Joique. Joique was 2nd-and-goal I think it was. It was 2nd-and-goal from the 1 after the incompletion. That’s not 4th-and-goal.
"You know, I think that there is a fine line there and you certainly don’t want to slow guys down from being aggressive in a play. (But) particularly in the red zone, ball security is more important than that extra half-yard.”
Linehan said he was hoping Monday would act as a teaching tool for both players.
“It’s the double-edged sword,” he said. “You want effort but you can’t be careless. It’s a learning experience. You go through some growing pains sometimes and both of them are young players that are giving us great effort. They have to learn from that and move forward and hope it doesn’t happen again.”
PICK UP THE PACE
The Lions went to a quicker-paced offense at the end of the first half and it seemed to give them a jump-start.
After going three-and-out on five of their first six possessions in a 13-7 loss at the Bears, the Lions started to make headway at the end of the second quarter when they picked up the pace.
“We had opportunities (early Monday) that we didn’t take advantage of and it’s a way of, ‘okay, let’s get off to a fast start by playing at a faster pace,’” Linehan said.
In certain situations, the no huddle can jump-start an offense -- like it did Monday for the Lions – but they don’t have the personnel to run it as a scheme.
“We have the ability to do that,” Linehan said of playing fast. “We tend to use it as much as we can. We can only use it in so many personnel groupings.
“(With) Riley (Reiff) playing tight end and some other groupings, it’s hard to do no huddle with those multiple personnel groupings. It limits you some what you can do. It’s certainly been effective for us when we’ve used it and I think it helped to get us to where we were more consistently moving the football the other night.”