How The Lions Offense Found Its Groove Against Arizona

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The Lions’ offense had a bad start Sunday. Here’s how they turned it around.

Contrary to many people’s expectations, the Detroit Lions’ offense was very bad early in their first game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals. Matthew Stafford had just signed a large contract extension, Ameer Abdullah was back from injury and TJ Lang and Rick Wagner had been signed in the offseason to shore up the offensive line. Here’s a quick summary of the culmination of these things in week one.

What Went Wrong Early For The Lions’ Offense?

Detroit’s offense couldn’t have been put in a better situation to start the game. After an early interception, they started with the ball at the Arizona 26-yard line. On Detroit’s second offensive play of the game, Matthew Stafford was intercepted by Justin Bethel, who made an 82-yard return for a touchdown. Despite good starting field position, the Lions couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.

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The offensive woes continued throughout much of the first half. They went three and out twice more in the first quarter. At that point, the Lions had run the ball just twice, while attempting to throw passes six times. The Lions made no attempt to establish the run on their first three possessions, and this is why they fell behind in the game early.

What Changed

Even though Detroit wasn’t able to dominate on the ground, they were very committed to running the ball in this game. They ran the ball 27 times for 82 yards, and, although these aren’t impressive numbers, it forced Arizona to respect the run.

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This balanced attack opened up the passing game, and Stafford took advantage of that with four touchdown passes, including three in the second half. To contrast this, Arizona ran the ball just 18 times for 45 yards and put the ball in the air 48 times. Look at how the game went for them.

What To Expect Going Forward

In the future, Detroit will attempt to be more balanced. In the second half of this game, they ran a completely balanced attack, and it worked almost flawlessly. They will run the ball early and often this season, and, even if they don’t get a lot going on the ground, it will still force teams to respect that Detroit is willing to hand the ball off.

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