Notebook: Offense needs to produce at critical times; Broyles undergoes surgery; Run game vs. Pack

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Statistically, the Lions are doing some of the same remarkable things on offense they did last year. But, regrettably, the wins haven’t followed suit.

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was recently reminded that his offense broke 23 team records last season.

"(When I was reminded) I said, 'I know that probably elevated expectations pretty high'."

Statistically, the Lions are doing some of the same remarkable things on offense they did last year.

  • Receiver Calvin Johnson is on pace to have the most productive season by a receiver in terms of receiving yards in the history of the game. He had over 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns last year.
  • Quarterback Matthew Stafford leads the NFL in passing yards (3,742) and needs to average 314.5 yards per game in the team’s last four games to reach 5,000 yards for a second consecutive year. He became just the fourth quarterback in history to reach the mark last season.
But, regrettably, the wins haven’t followed suit. The inability of the offense to come through in the clutch more often than not this season has been one of the main culprits.

“What I’d like to get done offensively in the last four weeks, is just produce in those critical times of the game,” Linehan said. “If we’ve got to get a score to win the game and make it a two-score game so that they can’t catch up, we’ve got to get that score.

"We can’t leave points out there and leave a one-score game still a one-score game.”

Johnson said breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yards record wouldn’t be hollow to him because it’s happening in the midst of a losing season.

It shouldn’t, either. But Linehan said everyone on that side of the football will feel a lot better about breaking records or reaching milestones if they can put four quarters of good offense together and get back to playing the way that allowed them to win 10 games last season.

“These guys are doing some remarkable things in the midst of having a losing season right now,” Linehan said. “If we can finish up strong these last four games we’ll probably be able to feel good about some of the things we’ve done this year, too.”

Rookie receiver Ryan Broyles had surgery to repair his recently damaged right ACL , according to head coach Jim Schwartz.

Broyles had ACL surgery on his left knee back in November of last year during his senior season at Oklahoma. He was almost completely rehabbed by early October of this year.

The Lions are hopeful Broyles will be ready to play again next season.

Mikel Leshoure had one of his better games of the season against the Packers in a 24-20 Week 11 loss. The second-year Lions running back had 84 yards (4.4 average) and a touchdown. The Lions are hoping for similar production Sunday when they travel to Green Bay for a rematch.

In their first game back on Nov. 18 at Ford Field, the Packers played a lot of two-deep safety and gave Leshoure favorable boxes to run against. That’s pretty much been the strategy for opposing defense's all year.

Sometimes Leshoure and the other backs have made teams pay. Other times they haven’t.

“We’re getting a lot of nickel defense,” Linehan said. “We’re getting the kind of things that enable you to have a potential advantage. We just need to continue to move in the direction that we have.

“I think we’ll feel pretty good about the direction our running game’s gone from where it’s been in the past.”

The offense is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, which isn’t bad, but it seems they get too bottled up at times, even when the numbers are in their favor.

Linehan said Joique Bell will continue to see more touches in hopes of giving the run game some more life. Bell, who has all three of the team’s runs over 20 yards this season, is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Leshoure is averaging 3.8 yards per rush, but leads the team with seven touchdowns.

“Him rattling off really the three explosive runs that we’ve had this year certainly gives him more opportunities I think in our offense, not just in the games,” Linehan said of Bell. “I think you’ll see him playing a little bit more throughout the game.”

The Packers rank in the middle of the pack against the run this year, allowing 115 yards per game, so there could be opportunities if the Lions can take advantage of some favorable situations to run the ball.