Sometimes a yard gained has a real value that is more than a yard.
The growth of the Detroit Lions’ offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations cannot be calculated by numbers alone. It’s a win-or-lose proposition.
The bottom line was win-win-win for the Lions in three key situations in Sunday’s 31-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Running back LeGarrette Blount scored two touchdowns from the one in goal-to-go situations, and he converted a key third-and-one in a fourth-quarter possession that ended in a touchdown.
Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson expressed the Lions’ short-yardage philosophy this week in a midseason interview session with the coordinators and assistant coaches.
“If you are in short yardage, the truth is we’re looking for one yard,” Davidson said. “If you’re in goal line situations, we’re looking for one yard.”
Short-yardage and goal-line situations were two of the areas Davidson spoke about in his media session. Among the others: Rookie guard Frank Ragnow’s development, the relative health of the offensive line compared to last seasons, and Matthew Stafford’s command to Blount on one of the short-yardage plays.
Davidson’s observations, as follows:
Getting a yard: They were tough to come by last season – too tough too often for the Lions. GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia made it a priority to beef up the short-yardage game.
Blount scored the first two TDs on one-yard runs to give the Lions a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The first one was after the Lions recovered a muffed punt at the one. Blount scored on the first play.
On the second, a 60-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Golladay gave the Lions first and goal at the Packers’ five. Blount gained four yards to the one on first down, then hit that formerly beyond reach territory known as the end zone on second down.
“To me, those are tough yards,” Davidson said. “And our guys are going about it the right way preparing.”
QB message: A 24-0 lead had been brought down to 24-14 when the Lions had third and one at the Packers’ 38 early in the fourth quarter.
“Don’t be denied!” Stafford told Blount, according to an exchange he had in an interview with Fox2 sports director Dan Miller.
Blount barged through a hole for a six-yard gain. Four plays later, Stafford’s TD pass to Golladay boosted the lead to 31-14.
“I’m not aware of that exchange,” Davidson said. “But I hope that’s the mindset -- no matter what.”
Rookie report: Frank Ragnow has played every snap at left guard in the first five games and is making steady progress under a plan that does not overwhelm him with things to learn. That’s the approach Davidson would take with any rookie, not just Ragnow.
“The big thing is just trying to find one thing to improve on each week going forward, knowing the cumulative effect for him is going to be good in the long haul,” Davidson said. “He’s actually gotten better in a lot of different areas.
“He is progressing in the way he goes about it, and it makes my job easier because it’s important to him. I think he’s becoming more comfortable with the position. I think there’s a confidence that goes with understanding the position – understanding the guys around him.”
Health report: “Healthy” is a relative condition in the NFL but compared to last year the offensive line is in good shape.
Right guard T.J. Lang is the only one of the five starters who hasn’t played every snap in all five games. Lang has missed two games and went out after only 10 snaps in the Week 4 road loss to the Cowboys.
The line was decimated by injuries last year, and the carnage began in the offseason with a shoulder injury that forced left tackle Taylor Decker to miss the first eight games. Kenny Wiggins has played every snap in Lang’s absence.
Having four healthy starters provides some continuity, and it helps Ragnow to be flanked by Decker and center Graham Glasgow, who also have played every snap.
“I think the more time that they’re in there elbow to elbow, the better they’re going to get,” Davidson said.