Time to Fire Jim Bob Cooter?: Analyzing Play Calling Vs. Minnesota Vikings

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Is it finally time to move on from Jim Bob Cooter’s tenure in Detroit? 

With a chance to gain a significant lead in division standings, the Detroit Lions played arguably their worst game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. After a few promising drives at the beginning of the game, the Lions offense could not get anything going from the offensive side of the ball. The Lions also gave up a whopping ten sacks this game and once again raised questions about the coaching decisions of Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

Facing a second and eight, the Lions are in the red zone with a chance to tie the score in the first quarter. Detroit lines up in a single back shotgun formation with four receivers lined up along the line of scrimmage (Figure 1.1).

To counter, the Vikings are playing a man coverage defense. As soon as the ball is snapped, two of the Minnesota linebackers start to rush quarterback Matthew Stafford with running back Kerryon Johnson helping with pass protection (Figure 1.2).

All of Minnesota’s cornerbacks have good coverage on the Lions wide receivers and the pressure from Minnesota’s defensive line shows up in Stafford’s face relatively quickly and forces a quick pass (Figure 1.3).

Wide Receiver Marvin Jones Jr. runs a curl route towards the top of the field and on when Jones “curls” gets open against his coverage. Both Stafford and Jones are on the same page and results in a first down pass (Figure 1.4).

This play shows that even though the Vikings were generating pressure on the Lions, they were still able to effectively find open receivers and drive down the field to stay in the game.

Now let’s jump to the fourth quarter where the Lions have one final chance to make a comeback. Facing a first and ten, the Lions once again line up in single back shotgun formation (Figure 2.1).

As soon as the ball is snapped, the Lions offensive line is pushed back into Stafford’s face, but this time Jim Bob Cooter calls a quick pass that allows the ball to get out quickly (Figure 2.2).

Tight End Luke Wilson runs a short route near the line of scrimmage and is able to pick up the first down (2.3).

Both of these plays laid out the blueprint for success against the Vikings, short, quick passes to neutralize the dominant pass rush. Jim Bob Cooter wasn’t able to pick up on this until the game was already out of hand. However, Jim Bob Cooter also lost wide receiver Golden Tate, the Lions best yards after catch player, which hindered the Lions ability to run quick passing plays. If Jim Bob Cooter can find a way to replace Tate in this offense, the Lions can potentially shake up the NFC North.

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