Running hot and cold: Lions better than Bears
What kind of game plan would you expect to see from the Lions after Matthew Stafford got hit 17 times and sacked 10 last week? They don’t run the ball very well, so will we see a lot of quick passes? Another 12 to 15 tackles for Roquan Smith? The Lions have been better running the ball than you might expect and certainly better than in the past. While they are 20th overall with 104.3 rushing yards per game, they are tied for 10th with 4.5 yards per carry and rookie Kerryon Johnson has been a nice addition. While the Lions are in a bit of a funk, Johnson has 503 yards on 89 carries (5.7 per carry) and is on pace to become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. The Lions are adjusting to life without leading receiver Golden Tate, and I would expect them to put a significant emphasis on protecting Stafford.
Jordan Howard has five touchdowns, on target for 10. Can we stop talking about how many yards the guy has and talk about bottom line: TDs and effectiveness? His influence from a scoring standpoint is about what it was last year. The coaches openly admit the run game isn’t optimized, so his production can be even better as the offense improves.
Jeff C., Parts Unknown I look at a lot of things before touchdowns when evaluating a running back. Howard could have six this season if he didn’t fumble at the goal line against the Dolphins. It was uncharacteristic for him as he generally has excellent ball security. Howard has not been as explosive to the hole this season, and he also has struggled creating yards after contact — although Bills safety Jordan Poyer might have a different opinion on that after Howard ran him over like a truck to score on an 18-yard run last week. I don’t think Howard has been as effective this season, and that includes factors other than his touchdown total. Hopefully the Bears will be better on the ground in the next eight games.