DETROIT – It looks like the Detroit Lions could be without quarterback Matthew Stafford again this week for their matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Not having Stafford doesn’t help the Lions at all, but losing players to injury is part of life in the NFL. Now the Lions will move forward with Jeff Driskel.
We saw a little of what Driskel could do against the Bears. He showed his ability to run, manage the offense and make plays when the Lions needed it. It was an OK showing for his first start. If the Lions expect to win without Stafford, Driskel and the offense need to get going and score more than the 13 points they scored last week.
Here are four things the Lions need to do to get by with Jeff Driskel at QB.
Have some sort of run game or a substitute
We’ve watched the Lions struggle all year to run the ball and there’s no real sign that’ll change. Driskel was the Lions’ leading rusher with 37 yards last week.
But to make Driskel’s life easier, the Lions need to have some sort of success running the ball.
That doesn’t look get any easier without Ty Johnson, who was hurt last week. Maybe Driskel can help get things going on the ground. Defenses will be up to stop the run and force Driskel to throw, so maybe the Lions can throw in a couple of read options with Driskel keeping the ball.
If the Lions can’t get anything going with the run, they’ll have to resort to short passes and screens. That will at least get some quick yards and help Driskel get in a rhythm. We saw a lot of those shorter throws Sunday.
Get it to Hock
Driskel’s got to keep throwing the ball to T.J. Hockenson, and maybe even throw to him more. If the Lions are going to throw mostly short passes, Hockenson has to be one of the main targets.
While the Lions’ run game hasn’t been successful, the commitment to it works to free up Hockenson in pass routes. He just needs more opportunities. Hockenson made some nice plays late against the Bears and seems to pick up 15 or more yards when he gets the ball.
Throw it deep
Most of Driskel’s throws last week went less than 10 yards in the air. Taking shots downfield (and connecting on those deep throws) has been a big part of the Lions success this season.
The one big play for Driskel was when he scrambled and launched a deep ball to Kenny Golladay for a touchdown.
Driskel has big play threats such as Golladay and Marvin Jones at his disposal, he just needs to get them the ball.
Defense needs to step up
One of the biggest ways for the Lions to help Driskel succeed is with good defense. We saw that for most of the game against Chicago, as the Lions held the Bears in check for large parts of the game. The Lions’ defense also gave the offense great starting field position.
If the Lions can work to bottle other teams up and impact the field position battle, that’ll go a long way in helping the offense work.
The defense could also force turnovers as it did in the early part of the season. Getting the offense as many chances to score as possible is critical.
No matter how dynamic the offense might or might not be, the Lions need the defense to step up every week Driskel plays to give them a chance to win.