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Lessons from the Lions


Mr. Scot
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A couple years back, I was pretty high on Dan Campbell as a head coaching candidate. Since getting the Lions job, he's put some people off with his antics but the Lions do actually seem to be headed in the right direction.

Ted Nguyen of The Athletic did an extensive analysis of the Lions offense, a unit that's currently averaging over 7 yards per carry rushing (that's not a typo). According to Nguyen, it's doing so by using old school tactics.

If you've got a subscription, you can check it out here:

Why the Lions old school offense is the antidote to modern NFL defenses

Excerpts...

In the age of analytics and airing it out, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell’s old-school approach and commitment to running the ball stands in contrast to much of the league — and it’s working. The Lions are making life miserable for defenses, bludgeoning them with a gap scheme run game that’s successful, in part, because it’s different from other offenses.

The popularity of the outside zone system that stems from Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay has led to more teams employing a Vic Fangio-style defense, which asks defensive linemen to play slower and take on a gap-and-a-half, rather than fly upfield and play only one gap. Theoretically, the defense can live in light boxes and invest more personnel in defending the pass as long as its front can slow down ball carriers long enough for the secondary to help. This works well against zone runs because offensive linemen move laterally, but the Lions like to run right into the teeth of defenses with authority. They want their offensive line, one of the best in the league, firing off vertically and punishing defenders.

...

Perhaps most impressive, the Lions lead the league in yards before contact per rush (3.79), according to TruMedia. That means on average, no defender is even touching their ball carriers until they are almost four yards downfield. That is a credit to how good their offensive line is.

“I’m not a system guy,” Campbell said when he was first hired. “I’ve been through all of them. I’ve seen all of them. So I’m not caught up on that. I’m going to find the best coordinators that are going to come in, and he’s going to have a vision of how he wants to run it with mine. There’s concepts that I know work, that we did well (in New Orleans), that I’m going to implement and want to implement. But other than that, let’s put our guys in the best position to have success. That’s what I’m about.”

...

If running a wide variety of gap scheme run concepts is the answer for modern defenses, why doesn’t every team do this? Because it’s difficult to teach and learn all these schemes, and not every team has the personnel.

“It takes a smart offensive line who understands the ins and outs of each concept,” former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said. “When you understand the rules, then you can block most any front. The offensive line coach and the scouting staff knowing all the defensive looks to their formations is important also. They need to have all of them ready to show the linemen during install.

...

There's a load of more detailed analysis in-between these paragraphs. If you're a deep study type, you'll probably love it.

Either way though, it's a very interesting read.

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33 minutes ago, Mr. Scot said:

It's a fairly simple principle: When everyone is doing things a certain way, try something different.

Mind you, it doesn't always work, and it takes some courage to do.

But when it does work...

I’m not sure I’d call, “run the ball/stop the run” avant-garde.

But I do appreciate the regression to smash mouth football.

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56 minutes ago, Mr. Scot said:

It's a fairly simple principle: When everyone is doing things a certain way, try something different.

Mind you, it doesn't always work, and it takes some courage to do.

But when it does work...

I mean.....Tepper tried to do something different with the Rhule hire soooo.....

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34 minutes ago, L-TownCat said:

I’m not sure I’d call, “run the ball/stop the run” avant-garde.

But I do appreciate the regression to smash mouth football.

Well, it's not quite that simple. If it were, we could do it 😆

The heart of it is that the offensive staff (not Campbell himself) figured out a weakness of the Fangio based concepts that are in use all over the league right now and they're exploiting it.

Combine that with some effective OL scouting and building and you've got an approach that so far is working pretty well.

Meanwhile, we're tipping play tendencies with our formations 😕

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39 minutes ago, Panthercougar68 said:

Watching the Matt Patrcia led lions in 2020 at Bank of America lose to PJ Walker reminds me of a Rhule led team now. Just bad culture.

Patricia was a terrible coach and might be one the handful of head coaches I would NOT take over Ruhle. 

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4 minutes ago, 4Corners said:

Patricia was a terrible coach and might be one the handful of head coaches I would NOT take over Ruhle. 

Still find it unbelievable that Belichick made him his OC.

I swear, that man really does believe he could win a Super Bowl with high schoolers.

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2 minutes ago, Mr. Scot said:

Still find it unbelievable that Belichick made him his OC.

I swear, that man really does believe he could win a Super Bowl with high schoolers.

Belicheck’s coaching tree isn’t very impressive. Sure, he has helped guys get HC jobs but most of them have been terrible. 
 

Same with Coach K, a lot of the guys he has put out haven’t been very good. Mike Brey is probably the best one. 

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1 minute ago, 4Corners said:

Belicheck’s coaching tree isn’t very impressive. Sure, he has helped guys get HC jobs but most of them have been terrible.

Same with Coach K, a lot of the guys he has put out haven’t been very good. Mike Brey is probably the best one. 

Yeah, his coaching tree has Dutch Elm Disease.

I do get the feeling he's gonna find the transition from Josh McDaniels to Matt Patricia is likely to be...bumpy 😄

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