Cosell’s Watching: Without a Pass Rush, Lions Defense Struggles

Detroit Lions, From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, Oakland Raiders

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his study of Week 15 coaching tape: the Lions defense vs. the Raiders offense. 

  • Palmer overthrew wide open Moore in the end zone on 4th + 1 on the Raiders 1st possession, A throw that has to be made
  • Raiders continued to feature an effective screen game, both with Bush and Reece
  • Lions a front four based defense, They blitz once in a while but it’s not a foundation of their defense

  • Heyward-Bey 43 yd TD came against strong side zone blitz with “cover 3” behind it, It was a quick slant in which corner Houston did not make the tackle

    Ndamukong Suh rushes Carson Palmer (AP)

  • Raiders OL did an excellent job in pass protection in the 1st half, Palmer had clean pockets on almost every one of his 22 drop backs
  • If you can protect you can throw on the Lions, They are a predominant zone coverage team which means that pass rush pressure is the key
  • Palmer was 17-21 for 202 yds in the 1st half, and 2 of those 4 incompletions were spikes near the end of the half; Lions did not challenge the Raiders pass game
  • What stood out re: Lions pass coverage was how many voids there were in the secondary, A lot of openings in their zone coverage
  • Suh was not a factor in the game, Nor was Williams at the other DT position
  • Vanden Bosch sack in the 3rd quarter came on a Raiders shot play that was not there, Raiders had TE Boss blocking Vanden Bosch with the expectation that the ball would be out but the coverage took away Palmer’s anticipated throw
  • Lions continued to play meaningful snaps of “Tampa 2” in longer yardage situations,They may play as much “Tampa 2” as any team in the league

    Michael Bush gets tackled during the 4th quarter (AP)

  • Raiders featured an emphasis on Palmer 3 and 5 step drops with quick rhythm throws against a vulnerable Lions pass defense
  • Lions increased blitz frequency in the 2nd half, Not surprising given how comfortable Palmer and pass game were operating
  • Raiders had a very effective shotgun run game with Bush, Plays to Bush’s downhill instincts and physical power
  • Palmer not the reason the Raiders lost but he missed a couple of throws to open receivers that you have to make

Later today:

How did the Lions rally in the 4th quarter against the Raiders?

Greg’s notes from Detroit’s offense vs. Oakland’s defense.

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