The Detroit Lions might have just come off one of the most hyped games this season, but it doesn’t mean they need to be any less prepared for the rest of their games. They could even use a little more prep time to put in to place lessons learned from last week. What do they need to do against the Tennessee Titans in order to win this week? Here are five key points they need to have in order to have a victory on Sunday.
1 – Matthew Stafford: Stafford needs to show up confident, call smart plays and not force the ball in to tight coverage. If he has an interception early in the game, it could be buzz kill for his confidence. He already has four for the year, which is high, so he will definitely be thinking about it in the back of his mind even if he doesn’t admit it. With some support from the O-line, Stafford can take a few more seconds and find an open receiver instead of throwing in to double coverage. (Which is exactly what Calvin Johnson has seen a lot of in the first two games.) Mix it up and find Brandon Pettigrew once in a while too.
2 – Effective Running: Just because Mikel Leshoure is back doesn’t mean he is going to get the ball each running play and perform a miracle. He might only get a few hand-offs, if he gets any at all. He has been gone for two weeks, which is two weeks of practice time and enough time to get a little rusty. The ball needs to be handed off to several different players in order to be effective. And don’t just hand it off to Kevin Smith and expect him to do something magical each play either. Run the ball. Pass the ball. Do something with the ball that is effective and move it down the field instead of trying the same old tired play for three and out each series.
2.5 – Jason Hanson: I know I said five, but this is a small point. Hanson needs to kick through the middle of the uprights and not the side. The ball doesn’t always bounce the way it needs to.
3 – Improved Secondary: Injuries have seriously hurt the Lions secondary. Drayton Florence went to the injured reserve list. Louis Delmas is still out. Jerome Murphy was added to the roster. Lots of change this week for the secondary that was still trying to solidify and find its identity last week. No matter who ends up starting, they need to do a better job than the sloppy work of a week ago. Bill Bentley did practice and is probable to start Sunday, as well as Chris Houston. There is hope for the secondary to come out strong and stay strong.
4 – Defensive Line: Not all of last week’s problems can be blamed on the secondary, because the front line didn’t look so sharp either. Missed tackles and weak blocking were apparent from the front four when usually the opposite is true. Kyle Vanden Bosch needs to be mean and not just look it with his red contacts. Ndamukong Suh needs to be a leader and get the front four focused. If they can stay focused and sharp, it might also help the secondary limp through the game.
5 – No Overconfidence: The Lions need to take the Titans seriously. Being overconfident and chalking up a W too soon will definitely be a recipe for disaster. The Lions need to prove they learned from last week’s loss and show up to play a ball game. Even though this game wasn’t hyped and the Titans rank low of defense and offense doesn’t mean they couldn’t pull out a win if they tried.