Unless Fixed, Poor Ground Game Will Doom Lions

How long can you win football games with one of the lowest rated offense in the NFL? A better question might be, how have the Lions won the four games they have in the win column?

(DETROIT) - How long can you win football games with one of the lowest rated offense in the NFL? A better question might be, how have the Lions won the four games they have in the win column?

Detroit put on yet another display of bad football for the home crowd in losing 17-10 to the Washington Redskins. Clinton Portis rushed for 147 yards on 34 carries, the first running back to pass the 100 yard mark against the Lions this season, leading the Redskins to the win. Conversely, Detroit's Kevin Jones, who is quickly running out of excuses, rushed 12 times for 20 yards.

Detroit now has three of its four losses at home and fans are in a quandry. Do they yell, scream and exhort their team to a win or do they show their disgust by booing?

Eight games into the season, the Lions cannot run the football despite spending millions on the offensive line and a first round draft pick to fix the problem. They cannot pass the ball effectively in a consistent manner. Joey Harrington threw the ball 52 times and still did not even have (269 yards and 1 interception) 300 yards passing. That's a telling statistic that Detroit is completing only the short stuff.

The Lions have relied on the big play and turnovers from their opponents as a formula for winning. In the early going, before NFL defensive minds had a look at him, Roy Williams regularly got behind defenses beating press coverage with his enormous talent and becoming only the second receiver to have five touchdown passes in this first five games. But Washington's Gregg Williams played Williams with man-free coverage. Safety Shawn Taylor shadowed Williams anytime he ran a route longer than eight yards.

Williams got loose once in the game and Harrington overthrew him.

So where does coach Steve Mariucci go from here? In yesterday's press conference he had the same hang-dog look he had last year when the Lions were struggling toward a 5-11 finish.

He says he won't give up on the run game, that it is a "work in progress." But unless Detroit makes some changes in personnel, they can pretty much expect the same results.

Center Dominic Raiola, guard Dave Loverne and tackle Jeff Backus, have all struggled in the run game. And even if the blocks are there, can he count on rookie running back Kevin Jones, who is showing an alarming lack of vision, to hit the holes?

Over the last three games, Detroit has become one-dimensional offensively, something that makes a team easy to defend. Mariucci and his staff have to come up with some answers quickly before a two-game road slide turns in to an avalanche of losses.

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