ANALYSIS: Lions Must Shore Up Run Defense

Detroit's perpetual problem of stopping the run resurfaced as the Browns Lee Suggs (who split time with rookie Lions running back Kevin Jones at Virginia Tech) shredded the Lions defense, averaging 10.5 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns virtually untouched, mostly against Detroit's first unit.

(DETROIT) - One couldn't help but have a sinking feeling watching Detroit's 17-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Detroit's perpetual problem of stopping the run resurfaced as the Browns Lee Suggs (who split time with rookie Lions running back Kevin Jones at Virginia Tech) shredded the Lions defense, averaging 10.5 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns virtually untouched, mostly against Detroit's first unit.

While Detroit's run attack was bolstered by the presence of Jones rushing for 29 yards on six carries, it wasn't enough to offset Suggs 63 yards on the same number of carries.

Suggs had enough sense not to try to bust it up inside against strong tackles Dan Wilkinson and Shaun Rogers. He simply bounced it outside against Detroit's undersized ends and inexperienced linebackers.

It isn't a coincidence that Detroit hasn't won a road game in three years.

A team that cannot stop the run will always have a tough chore on the road. Opposing teams can possess the ball for long stretches at a time and limit even the most high powered offenses opportunities to score.

While Detroit's Matt Millen has done a good job acquiring talent for the franchise, injuries and failure to address the defensive end position are taking their toll.

Two of Detroit's three starting linebackers are now sidelined with injuries. Only middle linebacker Earl Holmes remains intact. While Millen has resisted the temptation to add bodies to the corps while he waits for undrafted rookie Andrew Battle, second year players Boss Bailey and James Davis to return to the lineup, it's questionable whether Detroit can go into the season with this group.

The lack of fresh blood at the defensive end position has also been costly.

Ends James Hall and Kalimba Edwards have been mostly ineffective against the run. Second-year player Cory Redding has been inserted into the starting lineup to bolster the run defense. Aging veteran Robert Porcher is probably the best run stopper at the end position the team has.

While Detroit may pack enough punch to score points in bunches, they have to get on the field in order to do so. Without the ability to stop the run chances are they'll be playing catch up.

Look for Millen and head coach Steve Mariucci to begin scouring the waiver wires in the next few weeks looking for talent at both the linebacker and end positions.


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