The Detroit Lions are currently sitting with a 5-4 record through the first 10 weeks of the 2017 NFL season. This puts them only one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the last playoff spot in the NFC. The Lions have enough talent on offense to carry the team to the playoffs for the second straight season, but they just need to make a few changes going forward. These are the five things Jim Bob Cooter must stop doing right now if the Lions want to improve their offense.
Stop Giving Dwayne Washington Carries
Despite averaging just over two-yards-per-carry, Dwayne Washington continues to get important touches for the Detroit Lions. He may not play many snaps, but Washington gets all of his carries in key situations. It is easy to be enticed by his impressive stature, but Dwayne Washington is simply too ineffective to get on the field. He only has one touchdown in 110 career carries. Ameer Abdullah may be smaller than most running backs, but his quickness has helped him convert two red zone touchdowns in the last two games. Abdullah needs to continue to get the goal-line carries while Dwayne Washington stays as far away from the field as possible. Speaking of Ameer…
Stop Taking Ameer Abdullah Off the Field
Ameer Abdullah is easily the most talented running back on the roster, so there is no reason for Jim Bob Cooter to consistently take him off the field. Removing Abdullah for Theo Riddick is essentially informing the opposing defense of your intentions to pass the ball. Abdullah has also consistently shown throughout his young career that he is an extremely capable pass catcher, so removing him for Riddick does not make much sense. If you absolutely want to get Theo Riddick touches, then he should share the field with Abdullah. Putting two talented running backs on the field at the same time will create matchup nightmares for the defense. This type of offense was consistently used by the Atlanta Falcons on their way to the Super Bowl last season.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 14, 2017
Stop Playing Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron may have been picked with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, but it is time to give up on him. He makes too many mistakes to play on a consistent basis. Ebron is catching only half of the passes thrown to him this season, and very few of these incompletions can be blamed on Matthew Stafford. Tight end Darran Fells is catching nearly 70 percent of his targets this year, which has helped him secure more touchdowns than Ebron with far less playing time. The veteran backup is also a much better blocker than Ebron, so he could help spark the struggling rushing attack.
Stop Punting in Positive Territory
This can be true for almost every offensive play-caller in the NFL, but the Detroit Lions must stop punting in positive territory. Ok, I know this isn't Jim Bob's call per say, Head Coach Jim Caldwell drives the decision making, but Jim Bob Cooter needs to have more confidence in his talented offense to make the case. Punting on the opponent's side of the field will likely only gain 20 to 25 yards in field position. That is not a big enough shift in field position to take the offense off the field in a manageable fourth-down situation. Getting the first down will instantly put the team in scoring position, so the reward greatly exceeds the small risk of giving the opponent decent field position.
Stop Running in Short Yardage Situations (Stop running up the middle PERIOD)
The Lions are currently ranked as the worst rushing team in short yardage situations in the NFL. Since the run-blocking is not going to get any better in the middle of the season, the team must stop running in these situations. Matthew Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so it is time to start trusting him more in short third-down situations. Stafford has a great connection with wide receiver Golden Tate, so they should have no problem consistently gaining a few yards on a quick pass. If the opposing defense starts to take away Tate on these plays, then a short pass to the running back will give them more space to make the defenders miss. More than a rushing-play anyway.