LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Plenty of passes to go around, fast-paced Philly and something's got to give

Posted Dec 4, 2013

The NFL also announced the kickoff time for Detroit's international game next season

Brandon Pettigrew, Nate BurlesonTE Brandon Pettigrew is currently third among Lions' pass catchers with 38 receptions, WR Nate Burleson is sixth with 26. (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Contrary to popular belief, the Detroit Lions offense isn't based on quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing jump balls up to Calvin Johnson.

If Nate Burleson records four more catches over these last four games, he'll reach 30 for the season, and it will give the Lions six players with at least 30 receptions for the first time in franchise history.

"I just throw it to Calvin every time, you guys know that. Slant, jump ball, just throw Calvin the jump ball," Stafford said in jest in front of his locker after practice Wednesday.

"No, it's a testament to those (other) guys. They worked hard to gain my trust and the trust of the offensive coordinator. We've kind of had to have it for injuries sake and guys have stepped up and made plays."

Burleson seemed surprised when first told of the statistic.

"It's a great compliment to Matt (Stafford) as a quarterback and shows his growth, because there's a misconception all he does is throw jump calls to Calvin. It shows he's a very versatile quarterback and has great vision.

"But I think it's an even bigger compliment to (offensive coordinator) Scott Linehan. It's easy for coordinators to have a great player like Calvin and just utilize him. No one would complain if he was just throwing it up to him 20 times a game and everyone else was picking up the scraps. But what he does is create a game plan week-to-week with multiple guys making plays."

Johnson still leads the team in catches (72), yards (1,299) and touchdowns (12), but there's been plenty of other players who have gotten their piece of the pie, too.

In year's past, the question has always been, ‘Where are the complementary pieces?'

Running back Reggie Bush (45 catches), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (38), receiver Kris Durham (35), running back Joique Bell (34) and Burleson (26) have all played a role.

"A lot of that goes to having playmakers that can get open," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "A lot of it goes to the quarterback. A lot of it goes to the offensive coordinator. I think all those guys have done a good job.

"I think you need a coordinator that can put those guys in position. I think you have seen that."

We have yet to even mention tight end Joseph Fauria and his six touchdown catches or Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross, who each caught a touchdown in last week's win over Green Bay.

"No one is really selfish," Durham said. "We take pride in that. We get excited for each other. Everybody has their own skillset and it takes pressure of one individual or two individuals and helps everyone out."

The Lions still plan to add a dynamic receiving threat opposite Calvin Johnson this offseason, but that doesn't mean they haven't received production from a lot of different sources when they've needed it this season.

FAST PACE

The Philadelphia Eagles like to run a fast-paced offense.

In fact, they lead the NFL with 11 touchdowns on quick-strike drives of fewer than four plays.

Philadelphia's offense is dead last in the NFL in time of possession, averaging just 25 minutes and 37 seconds of possession time per game. That's nearly two minutes less than 31st-ranked Buffalo.

"We don't look at that stat," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said of time of possession in a conference call Wednesday. "You don't get any awards for time of possession. There's not a big banquet at the end of the year that gives you the trophy because you won time of possession."

The Eagles like to hurry their pace and limit the defense's ability to substitute personnel.

"It's just a tool in the tool box," Kelly said. "We don't do it all the time. It's just a matter of something that I think if it helps and it can exploit some things on the defense that you're facing that week then you use it. We don't use it all the time, we just use it as a changeup."

It's something the Lions have prepared for.

"To me, this is where you dig deep," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "I think if I'm going to put my endurance against somebody else's endurance, especially an offensive lineman, I think I better out endure them."

The fast-pace style does, however, put a lot of pressure on the Eagles defense. They have been on the field longer than any other defense in the league this year.

"We have a bunch of guys on defense that want to play," Kelly said. "We do a decent job rotating our guys on that side of the ball and I think our defense is playing at a very high level right now."

SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE

The Lions enter Sunday's matchup as the third-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 82.7 yards per game.

The Eagles will counter with the league's second-ranked rushing offense (146.8) and the league's second-leading rusher in LeSean McCoy (1,088).

Something has to give on Sunday in one of the most important aspects of this game.

"They stretch the whole field horizontally with their run game," Schwartz said. "(McCoy) can run inside and he can run outside. He also can run with power and he can break tackles.

"As much has been made of (Nick) Foles and 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions, that run game is really what keeps them going and allows them to do some of the things they do and no huddle puts a lot of pressure on the defense."

The Lions will have to be good at protecting their edges and continue to be stout inside.

"It's a little bit like playing option teams," Schwartz said. "Everybody has responsibility. We're going to have to play good team defense to shut their run game down and to also keep McCoy off of the score card.”

WAKING UP WITH THE LIONS

The NFL announced today that Detroit's Week 8 (October 26) international game vs. Atlanta in London will take place at a brand new broadcasting time -- 9:30 a.m. ET, or 1:30 p.m. in the UK. The game will air LIVE in the United States on FOX.

"The new start time will give U.S. fans a fourth game window on an NFL Sunday for the first time while allowing a global audience to tune in at a new, earlier time," said the NFL in a press release.

Oakland will host Miami Week 4 (1 p.m. ET) and Jacksonville will host Dallas Week 10 (1 p.m. ET).