Behind Enemy Lines: Part I

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Nate Caminata of Roar Report, break down Sunday's game between the Bears and Lions at Soldier Field in Chicago. Let's begin this three-part series with five questions from John to Nate.

John Crist: As both of us predicted before the Week 4 matchup, Kevin Jones has supplanted Tatum Bell as the starter and featured back on offense. How might this have an effect on offensive coordinator Mike Martz's play-calling with Jones going forward, and why was Bell seemingly never a good fit for this team?

Nate Caminata: It isn't so much that Bell wasn't a good fit, or even that Jones is the superior talent. Jones spent last off-season and the bulk of the regular season learning Martz's complex offense, and that intricate style also applies to the running game. Where Jones understood what Martz wanted from his running game, Bell – coming from a polar opposite system in Denver – struggled to adapt.

Because of the faith in Jones, expect Detroit's offense to be more balanced, a la the St. Louis Rams when Marshall Faulk spent his days terrorizing defenses. Jones has also quietly become one of the league's better pass-catching running backs, so it's simply another asset to have on the field.

JC: Jon Kitna was throwing the ball all over the field the first few weeks of the season, but he's only managed a total of 253 yards passing the last two weeks and didn't find the end zone in either of those games. Has the offensive approach been decidedly different, or is the rest of the league starting to figure out the scheme?


QB Jon Kitna
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

NC: The rest of the league will never figure out Martz's scheme because, really, there's nothing to figure out – which is the genius behind his play-calling. What teams have learned is two things: Keep their own offense simple, including short passes in the middle of the field exploiting Detroit's weak secondary and young linebackers, run the ball, and keep Kitna and Co. off the field. Also, when the Lions are on the field, disrupt the offense by applying pressure to a struggling offensive line.

If Kitna is given any amount of time, the Lions typically move the football. But if routes are not given enough time to develop, the offense will stall. Time of possession the past few games, especially in their losses, has killed Detroit.

JC: Rookie Calvin Johnson is back from injury and scored the first rushing touchdown of his career last week in a win over the Buccaneers. Simply speaking, is it inevitable that he becomes the best receiver in the NFL one day and can Roy Williams handle being the second banana through the air?

NC: Williams is one of the more unselfish, intelligent (shhh, don't tell Brian Urlacher) receivers in the National Football League. He even labeled Johnson "Megatron" in reference to the Transformers and has stated publicly that he – Megatron – will ultimately become the best receiver in the league.

Judging from Williams' candor and personality the past few seasons, there's no reason to believe he has any Keyshawn within him.

JC: The Detroit pass defense is ranked 30th in the league, down from 25th a year ago after GM Matt Millen traded away his best cornerback in Dre' Bly. What element of the defense is more to blame here, the D-line for not putting enough pressure on the quarterback or the secondary for not being able to cover anybody?


DE Dewayne White
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

NC: A little of both. Bly's absence has no impact on Detroit's secondary struggles, regardless of what people want to believe or what the media wants to say. The Lions have struggled to apply consistent pressure on the quarterback, which as any knowledgeable Bears fan (see: Tampa 2) will tell you, is absolutely essential to the success of the defense.

With that said, Detroit's secondary has experienced lapses, either finding themselves out of place, missing assignments, etc. It is critical that both facets of the defense improve should the Lions hope to have any success this year.

JC: The Eagles completely took Devin Hester away in the return game by punting the ball straight out of bounds and employing high-and-short kickoffs that were fielded by upbacks near the 20-yard line. Do you expect the Lions to follow this blue print, or do they have the kind of coverage units that can keep him contained?

NC: I don't think a coverage unit exists that can contain Hester. And judging by what Hester did to Detroit a few weeks back, there is absolutely no reason not to follow the Eagles' blue print.

To read Part II of Behind Enemy Lines, where John answers five questions from Nate, Click Here.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. Nate Caminata is the Publisher of RoarReport.com.


Bear Report Top Stories