The Lions Most Recent Flea-Flicker Attempt, Preparing For And Defending Against Le’Veon Bell.
When was the last time Lions did a flea flicker?
— Sweta Patel (@sweta2311) October 23, 2017
The day was October 26th, 2014. The Lions (5-2) were facing the Atlanta Falcons (2-4) in the Georgia Dome. The score was 21-13 Atlanta near the beginning of the 4th quarter. The Atlanta Falcons come out in their base 4-3 formation and as the Lions come out in I formation. They run a the handoff to the weak side where the protection is solid enough that running back Joique Bell is able to successfully pitch it back to quarterback Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, the pass falls innocently to the ground and the play is unsuccessfuly. However, the Lions do win the game in comeback fashion with score of 22-21.
The last time the Lions successfully completed a hail-mary (that I could find) was in 1994 against the Bills on Thanksgiving. Lions starting quarterback Scott Mitchell got injured earlier in the game, so backup Dave Krieg is the one who earns the credit on the play. He hands the ball off the legendary running back Barry Sanders. After receiving the ball back from Sanders, Krieg launches the ball deep downfield to hit receiver Herman Moore for the touchdown on a deep post route.
That is a tough question to answer. The Lions defensive unit is holding strong against the run so far this season. They rank 7th in the league in yards given up per game on the ground. However, some of that may be attributed to Haloti Ngata’s presence early on, who unfortunately unavailable the rest of the year due to injury. This is likely why last week the Saints running attack thrived against the defense’s first game post-Ngata.
The other reason this is difficult is because Steelers’ running back LeVeon Bell is arguably the best running back in the league. While his power and strength are his bread and butter, what really sets Bell apart is he has the best vision and patience in the league at his position. He can really take advantage of a defense that is undisciplined. Bad angles, over-pursuits, over-penetrations will really hurt the Lions defense against a running back like him. Maintaining control of their gap assignments will be huge.
Lions fans will certainly want to hope both of these things come true. I think it will largely come down to two Lions that will make or break this attempt to slow this run game: Jarrad Davis and A’shawn Robinson. Robinson, the Lions second-year defensive tackle, has been playing very well so far this season. While his strength against the run was evident last year, Robinson’s mental processing has gotten noticeably faster and has shown much better gap discipline this year. This has really helped him pop on film against the run.
The biggest boom-bust variable in this equation however is Jarrad Davis. The rookie has been flying all over the field at middle linebacker and looking particularly good at defending the run with his speed and aggressive play-style. However, with his lack of experience and Bell’s ability to take advantage of Davis’ style of play, it could be a trouble spot for Detroit this weekend.
But if Jarrad Davis is able to be a big force in stopping Bell, it could be an equally big indication of how well the Lions first rounder is going at this stage in his career.