Lions slowed by inconsistent offense

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have been searching for the majority of the season to find consistency within their offense.

The running game has been subpar. The passing game has been up-and-down. The offensive line has been a constant rotation because of injuries. The Lions haven't scored an offensive touchdown in two weeks.

So right now, the team is searching everywhere for solutions.

"We have no comfort zone," coach Jim Caldwell said. "We have no area that we are comfortable with at this point in time with our offense."

It has showed. QuarterbackMatthew Stafford is coming off the worst completion percentage (39.1 percent in a 34-9 loss to New England) of his career. The Lions have not rushed for a touchdown since Week 7 against New Orleans and have only six rushing touchdowns this season -- tied for 21st in the NFL.

Caldwell said the biggest reason for the lack of comfort has been Detroit's inability to score points. The Lions (7-4), losers of two in a row, haven't scored an offensive touchdown in back-to-back games -- the first time that's happened to them since 2000. They are averaging 17.9 points per game, their lowest total since averaging 16.4 per game in 2009.

"There's still a little bit of a period of trying to figure out what we're really, really good at," Stafford said. "When you look at the offenses that are really successful, they have some things that they can go to, that they know they're good at, that they know they can do against pretty much anybody in any look.

"With the amount of turnover we've had with certain guys being in and out up front, at the skill position, whatever it might be, it's been difficult to kind of develop that through the year."

The Lions are fifth in the league in time of possession (32:11), 10th in passing yards per game (251.73) and 12th in yards margin per game (plus-29). They are outside the top 15 in all other major offensive categories.

Although a lot of focus has been on Stafford and the Lions' passing game, Detroit's rushing has not been there all season. The Lions are 30th in the league in rushing yards per game (80.82) and 31st in yards per carry (3.28).

"I don't think it's only that, but I do think obviously the running game is important," Caldwell said. "... A couple of things you need to be able to do is that you have to be able to stop the run and you have to be able to run the ball. Those are two very, very important areas.

"We've been able to do one reasonably well in terms of stopping the run. We haven't been able to run the ball consistently. Now there have been games where we've had spurts, but a consistently solid ground game we haven't been able to produce as of yet."

It looks as if the Lions will be getting one of their offensive pieces back, as running back Reggie Bush said Tuesday he plans on playing against Chicago on Thursday. He said coaches and trainers were being cautious with his injured ankle, and even his wife recently offered her opinion on whether or not he should play.

"It's just a matter of being able to take a hit," Bush said. "Last week I wasn't ready. Now, I'm looking to play this week."

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