10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why haven't we seen much of Ryan Broyles?

Posted Oct 10, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 3-2 Lions prepare for a Week 6 matchup with the suddenly dangerous Cleveland Browns

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

Why are we not seeing much of Ryan Broyles? Is it still because of the ACL or performance related? Dustin Jermalowicz (@FuriousGeorge93)

20man: The Lions have always been eyeing an October return date for Broyles. They’ve had to use him a little ahead of schedule, because of injuries, but they’ve still been pretty diligent about monitoring his reps when they can.

Let’s not forget the guy is coming off his second ACL tear in as many years. The Lions made a long-term investment on Broyles when they selected him in the second round in 2012. They want to see the gains of that investment in the backend.

Broyles is a competitor and wants to be out there.  I think the Lions have been kind of protecting him against himself, as well.

The calendar has turned over to October, so I’d expect his snaps and his production to start to increase.

The Lions could surely use it.

With Calvin sitting last week the lions looked confused offensively. What will they do this coming week to bounce back? Austin Binienda (@Austin_Binienda)

20man: It will certainly help if Johnson is back.

If not, the first thing the Lions need to do is play better upfront. Five sacks and seven negative plays are way too many.

When we’re talking about an offense that’s predicated on the pass, and is featuring third, fourth and fifth receiving options, which the Lions are down to with Johnson and Nate Burleson out, those receivers might need an extra second or so to get open and Stafford will need the extra time to go through his reads.

Let’s not forget how important the run game can be in all this, too. The Lions had just 64 yards of offense on the ground in Green Bay. That’s not good enough when the passing attack isn’t at full strength. The Lions have prided themselves on being more balanced this year. Well, be more balanced.

Without Johnson, the offense is likely to see a lot of man coverage. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan needs to devise a game plan where he can exploit favorable matchups and players need to take it upon themselves to win one-on-one matchups.

I expect the Lions to really make a concerted effort to get their run game going with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.

Did starting tackle Jason Fox hurt the rhythm of the 0-line? Solomon Williams (@KingSol620)

20man: The offensive line had their worst performance of the season against the Packers, which was Fox's first start since a Week 1 win over the Vikings. I can see where people would make a connection there.

But I don’t think Fox had anything to do with Riley Reiff having an equally unimpressive day on the other side, or the Lions not being able to run through the interior of the Packers defensive line.

I think the blame lies in all five players, not just Fox. Granted, Fox didn’t play well, but neither did anyone else. The Lions didn’t suddenly gain some momentum up front after Corey Hilliard replaced Fox because of a knee injury.  I think they just got beat upfront and that happens in the NFL and it was a collective effort.

Who is it more important to shut down this week, Josh Gordon or Jordan Cameron? Nick Kostora (@nickkostora)

20man: Let’s put the stats out there for everyone to see first.

Gordon: 18 catches, 303 yards (101.0 average per game) and two touchdowns.

Cameron: 33 catches, 396 yards (79.2 per game) and five touchdowns.

After watching last week’s game in Green Bay, I thought the big plays killed the Lions defense more than anything. The 83-yard touchdown pass to James Jones and the 67-yard run by Randall Cobb directly led to 10 points. Other than that, the Lions defense played pretty well and forced a potent Packers offense to drive the field and settle for field goals.

That being said, I think Gordon is the bigger threat in the Cleveland offense to provide a big play.

The Lions linebackers and safeties will have their hands full with Cameron, certainly, but I don’t think he’s an 80-yards in one play kind of player.

If Theo Riddick is out this week, what are the chances Mikel LeShoure is active? If he is, what role would he play...if any? Jay (@JayPolger7)

20man: If Riddick is out with that concussion, Leshoure should be active, but I suspect he’ll have a similar role as he did in Washington. In that game, Reggie Bush was inactive and Leshoure still didn’t see the field.

Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are still ahead of him on the depth chart and should get the bulk of the work in Cleveland. I'd anticipate Leshoure only having a role in case of injury.

Leshoure could see the field more and make more of a contribution if he contributed more on special teams, but we haven’t seen that thus far. Quite frankly, Riddick has been very good on special teams.

The Lions will have an interesting decision on their hands with what to do with Leshoure when it gets closer to Montell Owens returning from short-term IR.

Why is Joseph Fauria limited to only a red-zone target? Seems a guy with his size and athleticism could be utilized more. Joshua Travis (@boomshaka9)

Joseph FauriaTE Joseph Fauria (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

20man: There are two reasons I’ve heard. One, he’s not a real polished route runner yet. His size is certainly an advantage, but so much of the passing game in the NFL is timing and having connection with the quarterback. Fauria is building that with Matthew Stafford, but I don’t think he’s all the way there yet.

Two, he’s not the most accomplished blocker in the run game. He’s better than he’s been given credit for, but he can still get better there.

All that being said, the fact that Tony Scheffler suffered a concussion in Green Bay, and has yet to return to the practice field, means Fauria might get his chance for an increased role Sunday in Cleveland.

If Scheffler is out, we’ll see what Fauria can do and if he seizes the opportunity.

Any talk around the facility about trying to push the ball down field more? Marc (@warispeace1984)

20man: The Lions are always looking for opportunities to push the ball down the field and create big plays, Marc. Unfortunately, the Lions see too many two-deep safety looks designed to stop the big play.

As a result, they’ve been relying on their receivers to take short passes and turn them into big plays. They’ve been successful, for the most part, as they’re second in the league in yards after the catch (890).

The one thing the Lions don’t want to do is push the ball down the field just to push the ball down the field. Stafford has made on conscientious effort to limit his turnovers this year. He’s done a pretty good job of not forcing the ball into bad coverage. He’s taking what the defense gives him, and like I said above with the YAC, relying on his receivers to make a play after the catch.

Stafford will certainly take shots down the field when they present themselves, but he doesn’t want to make a bad play, either.

Who's more vital to the offense, Calvin or Reggie? Nate Washuta (@NateWashuta)

20man: This is really a good question and you could make an argument for both.

I think Johnson effects the defense more than any player in the league, which puts him at the top of the list in terms of importance to the Lions.

Maybe this is a copout, but I think they both need each other.

Johnson had a historic season catching the football last year and set the NFL record for yards in a season, and yet the Lions won just four games.

When Johnson had Jahvid Best for the first five games in 2011, he had nine touchdowns and the Lions offense was dynamic and the team got off to a 5-0 start. They fed off each other and the Lions were a much more explosive offense with them both.

This year, the Lions have won both games (Vikings and Bears) Johnson and Bush started and finished together. Those have been the two most convincing wins for the Lions this season, too.

As last Sunday’s game proves, the two seem to need each other for this offense to reach it’s maximum potential.

Lions had 5 drops last week, most in one game by any team this year. Why aren’t the wide receivers getting it done like they’re paid to? Baconbombs (@baconbombs)

20man: That’s really a great question, but you can’t lay the blame on the receivers.

Kris Durham took responsibility for his big drop inside the Packers 5-yard line last week, but they also got drops from the tight end and running back positions.

It’s really been a problem all year for the Lions. Detroit pass catchers are dropping 11.3 percent of the catchable passes thrown by Stafford this season, according to Stats, LLC. That’s way too high of a percentage, even for how much the Lions throw the ball. The league average is around seven percent.

Drops are going to happen, that’s just part of the game, but the Lions need to limit the drops in the red zone and on third down. Those are the drops that cost teams games.

To me, it’s simple fundamentals. Maybe guys need to spend a little extra time on the jugs machine after practice.

Why not chase (Hakeem) Nicks or Gordon? If all they want is a 2nd rounder the reward outweighs the risk to acquire a dominate young WR #LionBlood (@Megatr0on1)

20man: I really don’t think Gordon is on the trade block any longer. The Browns have won three in a row and are currently tied for first place in the AFC North. If they were to trade their No. 1 weapon right now, what is that saying to the rest of the guys in that locker room?

Not to mention that I don’t think the Lions are in a spot to trade for a player like Gordon, who is one incident away from a one-year suspension by the league.

The best hope for the Lions is they get Calvin Johnson back sooner than later, they get Nate Burleson back sooner than later and Ryan Broyles, Kris Durham, Patrick Edwards and Kevin Ogletree step up and hold down the fort until the Lions have all their weapons back.