Skip to main content

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How will Lions perform coming off the bye?

Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Going into every game the first priority for most defensive coordinators is to stop the run. If they don't, the opponent controls the tempo and the clock, and play action becomes a huge weapon.

In Detroit's three losses this season, they've allowed a combined 372 rushing yards. In their three wins, that number drops to 194.

Heading into Sunday night, Detroit's No. 1 priority should be to stop Bell, which is no easy task.

20man: The Aaron Rodgers injury certainly changed the dynamic within the division.

That being said, I think Minnesota (5-2) is still the team to beat. That defense is legit, and if Teddy Bridgewater is anywhere near the player he was in 2015, that's the most complete ball club in the division.

The Lions obviously have the advantage of already beating the Vikings in Minnesota. Also, Detroit has only played that one division game, so they have five more left to control their own future within the division.

The Lions also appear to have a less strenuous schedule down the stretch. The win-loss record of their remaining 10 opponents is 31-37. They have just one road game left against an opponent with a current record over .500 (Packers, Nov. 6). The Vikings' remaining nine opponents have a current record of 27-32, but Minnesota still has road games against four opponents – Washington, Atlanta, Carolina and Green Bay – who are currently .500 or better.

I'd say the Lions' current odds at winning the division are 50-50.

20man: The Lions are 3-0 coming off the bye week under head coach Jim Caldwell. Going back and looking at all three games, which were wins vs. Miami, at Green Bay and vs. Jacksonville, the thing that stood out to me was the way the defense played, especially out of the gate. In those three contests, the Lions allowed just one first-half touchdown and just 15 points total in the first half.

It seems that giving Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin extra time to prepare for an opponent has really benefitted the Lions. We'll see what he comes up with against a Steelers team Sunday night that's playing lights out on offense.

20man: No to Decker. He still hasn't returned to practice coming off shoulder surgery in June. I'm guessing that once he returns to practice, he probably needs two weeks to get back into the swing of things. If he can return to practice next week, maybe a mid-November return to game action against the Browns could be in the cards. We'll just have to wait and see on that one.

As for Golladay, he was listed as limited on the practice report Wednesday, but sat out Thursday's practice. I'm still a little bit concerned about that. The fact that the Lions brought up Jace Billingsley from the practice squad to the active roster might not just be because they're worried about Tate playing Sunday, but maybe Golladay, too.

20man: I was a little surprised Tate took part in practice Wednesday, albeit in limited fashion. That was quite the shot he took on his shoulder vs. the Saints. It just shows how tough a guy Tate really is. Hopefully, he's ready to roll come Sunday night, and the Lions have their full complement of weapons against a Pittsburgh defense that's third in scoring defense, second overall and first against the pass.

If Tate can't go, I'd expect to see TJ Jones get more reps, a lot of which could come out to the slot in three-receiver sets. One of his big attributes is that he can play all three receiver spots.

If Tate and Golladay don't play, I'd expect to see Billingsley, and he's almost exclusively a slot player. Given the Lions are coming off a bye week, I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Bob Cooter has concocted a wrinkle or two. Maybe Theo Riddick gets a few plays out of the slot. That could be a good way to get one of their more dynamic playmakers the ball in space.

20man: When the guy next to you upfront is struggling, it certainly has an impact. I think there's been some instances when Glasgow's had to compensate for that.

Glasgow's currently ranked 18th among left guards by Pro Football Focus. He's been pretty good as a pass protector. He's allowed just one sack, one quarterback hit and six hurries. That's not bad. I think some inconsistencies have showed up in run blocking.

I think he's a future center. Right now, he's doing what the team needs him to do.

20man:Washington was a full participant in practice this week, which means he's ready to roll from a physical standpoint. Given that the Lions haven't gotten a whole lot from Zach Zenner the last few weeks, and they're always looking for a boost in the run game, I could certainly see a scenario where Washington is back in the lineup Sunday night with a short-yardage and goal line role.

20man: We're already there. Fells has actually played more snaps than Ebron in four of their six contests. Some of that has been in a pass-blocking capacity, but his role as a pass catcher has steadily developed the last few weeks. He's played more snaps than Ebron in each of the team's last three games.

Overall, Ebron's played in 242 snaps. Fells has played 234.

20man: When a unit isn't playing up to snuff, everyone deserves a piece of the blame. The scheme isn't a bad one, but it's Ron Prince's job for everyone to be clicking within it.

That being said, Greg Robinson, Graham Glasgow and Travis Swanson have to be better individually within it.

20man: That could be 6-foot-9, 315-pount Brian Mihalik, who filled in both at right and left tackle at times in the Saints game. The majority of the reps came at left tackle filling in for Robinson in the second half.

The former defensive lineman turned offensive tackle gave up a sack and three pressures in 24 pass blocking reps vs. the Saints. He has appeared in all six games for the Lions this season, but most of that was on special teams.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content