This column is dedicated to statistics, but in full disclosure, statistics can sometimes be misleading.
That's certainly the case with the Detroit Lions ranking seventh in the NFL in scoring (26.8 points per game). It's an offensive statistic, but also a statistical oddity, at least in Detroit's case, considering the Lions employ the 28th ranked offense (298 yards per game), the 21st-ranked passing offense (214.0) and are 28th running the ball (84.0).
The oddity comes in that the Lions have scored more return touchdowns on defense and special teams than any other team in the league this season. Jamal Agnew has returned two punts back for touchdowns. Detroit's defense has scored three touchdowns on interception returns by Glover Quin, Miles Killebrew and A'Shawn Robinson.
Take away the 35 points from the return touchdowns, and the offense is averaging around 21 points per game, which is more in the middle of the pack among the league.
The Lions have to figure out some of the issues they've been having on offense over the bye week if they're going to make a run in the final 10 weeks of the season. Key among those issues is better protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford as well as finding some consistency running the football.
Detroit's 23 sacks allowed are tied with the Green Bay Packers for the most in the NFL. Stafford's on pace to get sacked more than 60 times this year, which hasn't happened to any quarterback in more than a decade. The Lions rank 29th in STATS, INC.'s Protection Index.
Only the Buccaneers, Chargers and Cardinals average fewer than the 84.0 rushing yards the Lions are averaging through their first six games. Detroit's 3.5 yards per carry ranks 26th.
So far the offense has been Detroit's weakest link. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter needs to figure out how to find more consistency moving the football and putting touchdowns on the scoreboard.
Here's a look at some other key stats – good and bad – after six weeks of football:
- Detroit players who rank in the top 10 at their position by Pro Football Focus:
* S Glover Quin – 2nd * WR Golden Tate – 5th * G T.J. Lang – 6th * KR Jamal Agnew – 7th * LB Tahir Whitehead – 7th * P Jeff Locke – 7th * T Rick Wagner – 9th * DE Anthony Zettel – 10th
* The Lions' offense ranks 30th in the number of 10-play drives they've produced (7) this season, and are 32nd in first-down efficiency. * Jamal Agnew joined Hall of Fame cornerback Jack Christiansen (four in 1951) as the only rookies in Lions history to return at least two punts for touchdowns in a season. Agnew leads the NFL with a punt return average of 23.7. The next best is New England's Danny Amendola at 14.7. * Golden Tate leads the NFL with 13 receptions on third down. * Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson is the first Lions defensive lineman to record a pick-six for the Lions since Cliff Avril vs. San Diego Dec. 24, 2011. * Yards after catch is an area where the Lions have ranked among the league's best for a few consecutive years now. After six games, the Lions are just 18th in YAC (504). * Detroit's allowed 38 points from their turnovers, third most in the NFL. * Matthew Stafford's passer rating of 89.3 ranks 16th in the NFL.