The Detroit Lions looked like they turned a corner on offense during a stretch spanning from mid September to mid October.
That hot streak featured a 5-game run where the team averaged 28 points per game and won three games.
The team has scored two touchdowns in the two games since and questions were aplenty when offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter addressed the team on Tuesday.
“We did not play our best last week. It was a unit-wide effort and obviously, I’m in charge of that, so I’m not doing a good enough job getting us ready to play well on Sundays," said Cooter. "There are a lot of different things, you wouldn’t necessarily narrow it down to one thing or one position or one group or one big picture item. It’s just overall, we have to play better. I have to coach better, I have to get our guys better. We have to execute better and get back to the fundamentals, get back to the simple things, do those well. Get that thing headed in the right direction and sort of go from there.”
There have been several theories coming from the outside as to the root cause of the offensive woes. One of which is that perhaps the emphasis on the run game has limited quarterback Matthew Stafford's ability to audible at the line.
Cooter dismissed that notion on Tuesday.
“I would say we’re still doing a little bit of both," said Cooter. "We can run the ball successfully. That ought to really let the rest of the thing go in a good direction. It really shouldn’t impact certain checks or whatever we may make at the line of scrimmage, so hopefully those things will work together and raise the best possible result.”
Another theory is that the Lions have not ran as much play action over the last two weeks. Cooter also dismissed this, citing game situations (which potentially hints at the team's inability to run the ball the last two weeks - their yards per carry have been 2.6 and 2.8 in those games).
“I would say we utilize all avenues of attacking the defense. I’m sure if you sort out certain numbers and don’t really take into account game situations, you can kind of make them say whatever you would like," said Cooter. "Our job is to do what we can do to score points to help our team win games.
"It’s on us to keep ourselves in a good game situation so that we do have multiple avenues available to us to attack a defense. Sometimes we have this year and sometimes we have been a little bit further behind than we should be. And offensively, like I said, I think we can execute better. I think I can coach better getting back to the fundamentals of playing good football and I think that will get us headed in the right direction.”
Although the lack of execution on offense has played a significant role in the Lions struggles, it shouldn't be ignored that the recent two-game skid has coincided with the team playing two of the league's top defenses. Of course, they get no relief this week with a matchup against the Chicago Bears, a defense Cooter recognizes as one of the league's top units.
“Really good defense. A really talented defense up front, talking defensive line, outside linebackers, in the middle with the linebackers, and the secondary," he said. "Those guys are just good players all over the field. They’re making plays. They’re getting their hands on footballs, they’re batting them up in the air, they’re pressuring quarterbacks, they’re attacking the football when a runner is running with it downfield.
It’s a good unit, it’s a really talented unit. It’s a very solid, sound scheme Coach (Vic) Fangio runs and it’s been running for quite some time there at a really high level. Those guys are playing really well and it’ll be quite the challenge for us.”