Analyzing the Detroit Lion’s Run Game: Kerryon Johnson’s Usage

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Exactly How Good Is The Detroit Lions Run Game With Kerryon Johnson

For years on end, the Detroit Lions have had some of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. GM Bob Quinn has made an effort in the past few years to revamp the entire Lions running game, and early indication this season look like Quinn’s work is paying off. After completely changing the offensive line and bringing in Kerryon Johnson, the Lions run game is now showing some signs of life.

Let’s look at one of Johnson’s longest runs this year against the Green Bay Packers. Facing a second and ten from the Packers 32, the Lions are line up Johnson in the backfield with two tight ends on either side of the offensive line, Luke Wilson to the right and Levine Toilolo to the left with both slightly behind the line of scrimmage (Figure 1.1).

As soon as the ball is snapped, both tight ends motion to the right to block for Johnson (Figure 1.2).

This, however, is simply a misdirection called by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. As both tight ends motion to the right, the linebackers and the defensive linemen bite on the slight fake, giving Johnson an open running lane outside of the box (Figure 1.3).

Johnson sees the open field and simply uses his speed and momentum to outrun the Packers defensive linemen and linebacker that bit on the misdirection (Figure 1.4).

At this point, Johnson is able to easily pick up the first down and more until he is finally pushed out of bounds by the safety (Figure 1.5).

Looking At Kerryon Johnson’s First Touchdown For The Detroit Lions

Now let’s look at Johnson’s first professional touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys. Before the snap, Jamal Agnew motions from the right all the way to the left of the field (Figure 2.1).

In the process, the ball is snapped and a fake handoff is given to Agnew as he motions, but the ball is actually handed off to Johnson (Figure 2.2).

Once again, this misdirection causes the linebacker and defensive linemen bite on the fake handoff. As Johnson takes the handoff, he sprints towards the end zone. With good blocking from wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr, Johnson only has a single player to beat (Figure 2.3).

Johnson lowers his head and truck sticks the defender to get past him, and is able to score his first career touchdown in spectacular fashion (Figure 2.4).

As you can see, the Lions run game is very dependent on misdirection of the blockers. However, the blockers do a great job with blocking their man and also to catch the defenders off guard. Since the Lions have so many weapons on offense, misdirection works a significant amount as defenses have to pay attention to almost all of the Lions offensive players.

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