Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) celebrates after scoring his first career touchdown during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
5 questions and answers with Zac Snyder, the editor over at www.sidelionreport.com discussing the matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions this week.
1. With Larry Warford in the mix at right guard and Riley Reiff at left tackle now, what is the state of the Lions offensive line?
The Lions offensive line did a good job protecting Matthew Stafford overall for the last few years but they started giving up too much pressure up the middle a year ago. Stephen Peterman is out and Larry Warford has proven to be a major upgrade in the run and pass game. Add to that the fact that Riley Reiff has largely been able to step right in for Jeff Backus and the Lions’ line hasn’t missed a beat while getting younger. The Lions still need a long-term solution at center when Dominic Raiola is done but Reiff and Warford are a great start.
2. Now with Ezekiel Ansah along with Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, how good is the Lions defensive line and that front seven in general?
The defense goes as the defensive line goes. Ndamukong Suh is playing the run better than ever before and Nick Fairley has taken another step forward, allowing the defensive ends to do their thing. Suh and Fairley struggled last week against the Packers so it is no surprise that the defense wasn’t able to come up with any big plays. The line is the strength of the front seven but the linebackers have been a pleasant surprise so far, especially outside linebacker DeAndre Levy.
3. Even if everyone else on the roster was healthy, how do the Lions score points without Calvin Johnson in the game?
They just need a receiver to step up. That didn’t happen last week and the offense suffered. Without a threat down the field, Reggie Bush didn’t have the same amount of room to run and the offense just couldn’t get going.
4. What is considered a successful year for the Lions this year? Is Jim Schwartz the man to lead the Lions into the future?
After last season I became very indifferent to Schwartz’s future in Detroit. This is the season he needs to prove which year was the fluke – 2011 when they won ten games and made the playoffs or 2012 when they were a disappointing 4-12. So far the season is looking more like the 2011 campaign but the jury is still out. With the way some NFC teams have really disappointed out of the gate, a playoff appearance is a realistic expectation.
5. What is your prediction for this game?
Going on the assumption that Calvin Johnson will play, I expect the Lions to be able to get back to what they have been doing offensively. That forces the Browns to make a decision between focusing on CJ or on Bush and I’m not sure there is a good way to decide. Lions 27, Browns 21.