During the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call “10 Questions with Twentyman.”
20man: The Lions have three receivers in Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. who can all go off for 100 yards and multiple touchdowns on any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday. We’ve already seen it. I think as a trio, they are one of the best in the NFL. They make it very difficult on opposing defenses.
Golladay probably has the most upside of the bunch, just because of his age and skillset, but I truly believe this is a situation in Detroit where the Lions can have a different No. 1 each week depending on how the defense plays them. What a luxury for Matthew Stafford, Jim Bob Cooter and Co.
20man: You guys know those awards are all about statistics. Marshon Lattimore intercepted his way to last year’s award with five of them.
For the secondary players like Derwin James, Denzel Ward, Donte Jackson and others, it’s about interceptions. Lattimore’s five last season is probably a good benchmark to start.
For linebackers like Roquan Smith, Darius Leonard and Rashaan Evans, it’s about tackles. Start at 100 and keep climbing.
For defensive linemen like Hand, Bradley Chubb, Maurice Hurst and others, it’s about sacks. The starting point is probably 10. If Hand can get to 10.0 sacks from the interior – he’s currently at 2.0 – and continue to play the run as well as he as, maybe he can work into the conversation.
But that’s asking a lot from a two-gap mostly interior lineman.
20man: It will be interesting to see what the Lions do here this week. And I emphasis this week because I could certainly see a scenario where this changes week to week based off matchups.
Of the four scenarios you laid out, Tracy Walker getting more time and Diggs playing more nickel makes the most sense to me, just because Diggs has the most experience inside, and the Lions were already finding ways for Walker, their long and rangy third-round pick, to see the field more. This is a smaller, faster receiving corps in the slot the Lions are facing in Miami.
20man: I can’t disagree with the logic here, but what if Johnson has been so effective because of the way the Lions have used him? Is that a possibility?
I’m with you, Chad, in that I’d like to see him get a few more carries throughout the course of the game, as long as the flow of the game dictates that. But I’m not in the 20-25 carries crowd. I know Johnson can handle that, but 15-20 touches a game, with Blount then getting short yardage and change-of-pace carries, and Riddick playing on some third downs, seems perfect to have a balanced approach and not run the rookie ragged.
20man: We’ll have to wait and see if both are able to play Sunday. If so, it’s a tough call.
Lang makes everything operate smoother on offense. He’s a Pro Bowl player upfront. Those guys are hard to come by.
For this week, however, maybe I’d go with Ansah, because as soon as he steps on the field he is the best player on that side of the ball for Detroit. How much better can the Lions’ defense be with him? What will it look like with him from a schematic standpoint? I’d certainly like to find out the answer to those questions.
20man: Tackle. Tackle. Tackle.
Miami’s offense, and Wilson in particular, are very good running after the catch. That’s where Wilson does a lot of his damage. Lions defenders have to be good in space and rally to the football.
Another key here, and I thought the Bears’ defense did a terrible job in this regard last week, is taking the proper angles to put yourself in a good position to make the tackle. Knowing your opponent, and the speed they possess coming in, is important.
It really comes down to being athletic in space and fundamentally sound at the point of attack. For how good the Bears’ defense has been this year, they were sloppy last week in those two areas. We’ll see how the Lions do Sunday.
20man: I know fans are down on Ansah right now because of the injuries, but there is simply no denying the fact that the Lions are a better defensive football team with Ansah on the field. Watch the film. It sticks out like a sore thumb. He garners more attention from the offense, he opens up the potential for teammates on the other side to make more plays, and this is a vastly improved defense vs. the run when Ansah plays.
He’s still limited at practice this week, so we’ll see what his listing is Friday. If he does play Sunday, he’ll have fresh legs and will be plenty motivated. I’d bet he impacts the game in some way.
20man: I always thought this story was a little overblown. If you’ve ever played football and watched film of an opponent, I’d estimate that 80 percent of what the team likes to do shows up on tape and is repeated.
Defenses have schemes they like to run. When the Lions play the Vikings, they know the double A-gap blitz looks and everything the Vikings do off of it is coming. They still have to execute.
Offenses have concepts they like, and bread and butter plays, especially in critical situations. There are multiple options on every play.
To me, it’s all about execution.
20man: I think one of the more surprising aspects of Johnson’s game so far has been his ability as a pass catcher. He wasn’t asked to do a whole lot of that at Auburn. The most catches he had in a season there was 24. He already has 13 for the Lions in five games, so he’s very capable there.
If Riddick’s knee injury does keep him out Sunday, Johnson will likely see more third-down situations, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Abdullah get some run on third down as well. One of the reasons why I felt like Abdullah made the roster over Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and other backs coming out of camp was because of what he provided this team in the passing game.
One thing to consider, however, is that both Johnson and Abdullah aren’t nearly as good of pass protectors as Riddick is. The Lions will miss that part of the equation.
20man: Deadlines. I don’t have to worry about that as much now as the people who write for the papers, but I always like to have a recap of the game up on detroitlions.com as soon as I can after the game. Ideally, five minutes or less. For that to happen, we write a lot during the course of the game and especially in the fourth quarter. That’s probably why you see a lot less tweets (besides the big stuff, obviously) later in the contest.