Detroit Lions' Midseason Report is a three part series examining the strengths and weaknesses of the offense, defense and special teams from the first eight games while casting a look ahead to the second half of the season.
Through eight games, the Detroit Lions' offense is impressing. Statistically, they're the second ranked total offense in the league to the Denver Broncos and the second ranked passing offense, racking up 2,543 yards in the air and 3,328 total yards. Considering the combined records of those left on the Lions' schedule in the second half is a woeful 20-38, the chance certainly exists for a playoff run.
Taking a personal approach, the Lions have plenty to be excited about, as well. Not only has Calvin Johnson looked better than last season, now, he's got Reggie Bush and the threat of a running game, as well. Matthew Stafford has avoided many of the big mistakes that have plagued him, and the Lions have put themselves in position to win every game. Here's a quick rundown of where things have been and where they're set to go.
First Half Offensive MVP: Reggie Bush. Though Johnson has looked superhuman again at times, the Lions have thrived thanks to Bush and the threat of his electric legs. When the Lions are winning through the first half, it's when Bush is contributing yardage on the ground. and even through the air. He has given the Lions some much needed and craved balance, which has helped the offense become more threatening. If he's able to stay healthy and aggressive, Detroit will be a very formidable foe.
First Half Offensive Unsung Hero: The Offensive Line. The perpetual unsung heroes, Detroit's offensive line has banded together and played seamlessly in the midst of their offseason reshuffling. Larry Warford has adjusted to the NFL at warp speed at guard. Riley Reiff is playing well, and the Lions have been able to survive several injuries thanks to depth, with LaAdrian Waddle, Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard stepping in and swapping roles. The group doesn't allow many sacks, and has given Stafford time to make big throws in big games. Their play has been as big a reason for the offense's success
First Half Player Needing Improvement: Kris Durham. Despite the fact that Durham has been playing well, he needs to assert himself and catch the ball when it's thrown to him. For as big a role as Durham has been given, he still struggles to be an impact player and has yet to find the end zone. Sunday's late catch against Dallas was a fantastic step, but the Lions need more out of Durham's tall frame, especially considering they chose not to make a move for a receiver at the deadline.
Two Players To Watch In Second Half: Nate Burleson and Joseph Fauria. After breaking his arm in perhaps the most bizarre accident ever, Burleson is poised to come back quicker than ever. With the bye week assisting, Burleson could return for the Chicago Bears game. Before injury, he was enjoying what looked to be a career year. Can Burleson be a difference maker when the Lions need him most? Fauria, in the meantime, has been a breath of fresh air catching touchdowns, but can he remain consistent as a blocker and adjust as defenses scheme for him?
Toughest Game Of The Second Half: Green Bay Packers. The Thanksgiving Day contest is always a special game, but this year, with the Lions and Packers each quality teams in contention for the NFC North, it could be the best it's been in the past. The Lions need to stop the bleeding on their holiday game, and the Packers will bring their elite offense and a tough defense into battle. To be the best, Detroit must beat the best, and in their division, the best has long been Green Bay. The Lions' offense should be hungry to prove their earlier loss was merely a case of being without Calvin Johnson and a healthy Reggie Bush.
Easiest Game Of The Second Half: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, the NFL is a tough league where nearly everybody is equal, but the Buccaneer ship is the one that has officially sunk. By the time Detroit sees Tampa Bay, they could be 0-10 and perhaps without the services of embattled head coach Greg Schiano. Worse for Tampa Bay? The game is at Ford Field, where Detroit has a solid 3-1 record this season. The Buccaneers have a decent defense, but a terrible offense, (32 out of 32 NFL teams) so they won't be winning a shootout against the Lions' high flying attack. Moreover, they may have quit.
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- Detroit Lions Scorecard: Breaking Down the Offense Against the Green Bay Packers
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