ESPN Stats and Info and “The Calvin Johnson effect”

Posted by ttwentyman on February 13, 2013 – 12:35 pm

I had a chance to sit down with new running backs coach/run game coordinator Curtis Modkins and new tight ends coach Bobby Johnson last week and both coaches said they were amazed at the looks they’ve been seeing from opposing defenses as they watched last season’s cut-ups.

“There are looks on film watching the cut-ups from last season that I haven’t seen in many years,” Johnson said of what he and Modkins are seeing on how defenses played the Lions this year.

“You’re seeing many looks, especially from a run-game standpoint; when you draw the diagram and install the play you draw the most basic, cleanest look (from the defense) and (the Lions) got that look quite a bit because people were worried about Calvin and Matthew and the pass game.

“As we say in the business, there’s some very juicy looks right there.”

ESPN NFC North writer Kevin Seifert did some terrific research with the help of the ESPN Stats and Information department that lends credence to what Johnson and Modkins are seeing in the cut-ups.

In 2012, the Lions ran more plays (855 of a possible 1,160) against defenses with six or fewer defenders in the box than any other team, according to Seifert. They also faced, by far, the fewest number of “stacked” boxes — eight or more defenders within two yards of the tackle and five yards deep. That happened on only 1.6 percent of their plays (19 of 1,160).

Give the Lions credit for trying to run the football against such looks. In 231 attempts, they rushed for an average of 4.48 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. But they managed a first down on only 18.6 percent of those runs, tied for No. 21 in the NFL, Seifert wrote.

“With Calvin (Johnson) and the receivers we have in place, the quarterback and what they’ve done in the passing game here, it does allow you to have some boxes that are conducive to having a good running game,” Modkins said. “I’m excited to see what we can do with that. It’s a little different than what I’ve seen the last three years.”

It just goes to show how incredible Calvin Johnson’s 2012 season was. With six or fewer defenders in the box, and five or more in coverage, Johnson caught 91 of his 122 passes for 1,428 of his 1,964 yards and all five of his touchdowns.

Seifert’s article was appropriately titled: “The Calvin Johnson effect”

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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »

Report: Free agent safety George Wilson to visit Lions this week

Posted by ttwentyman on February 13, 2013 – 10:35 am

The Detroit Lions will host free agent safety George Wilson for a visit this week, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.

The Buffalo Bills released Wilson, who has started at strong safety each of the last two years for the Bills, on Monday in a salary cap-saving move. He was a captain and had 104 tackles last year.

The Lions are looking to retool their secondary in the wake of a 4-12 season and they’d certainly like to upgrade at the safety position if possible. Louis Delmas, who missed eight games in 2012 due to knee surgery, is an unrestricted free agent. The other starter at safety, Amari Spievey, is a restricted free agent.

The team also re-signed Don Carey late in the season and have Tyrell Johnson and special teamer John Wendling at safety.

Wilson, 31, also has a visit scheduled with the Tennessee Titans this week, according to the report. He has 412 tackles and 12 interceptions in his seven-year career.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 17 Comments »

Tim Walton accepts St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator position, according to reports

Posted by ttwentyman on February 13, 2013 – 12:15 am

Tim WaltonThe Detroit Lions will head into the 2013 season without one of their best young assistant coaches as Tim Walton has accepted the St. Louis Rams’ defensive coordinator position, according to reports.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Walton was in St. Louis on Monday to interview for the job with Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.

Walton has been with the Lions for four seasons as their defensive backs coach. The team added the title of “third-down package” to his job description in 2012, giving him a more involved role in game-planning.

This is the second time Walton, 41, has interviewed with the Rams. Last season he interviewed with Fisher for a assistant defensive coordinator-passing game position, but ended up staying with the Lions.

Walton beat out former Cleveland defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and current Minnesota special assistant to the head coach and linebackers coach Mike Singletary for the Rams’ coordinator position.

The Lions have made no official announcement of the move or how they might fill Walton’s spot on the coaching staff.

The Lions hired Marcus Robertson as an assistant secondary coach last season. Robertson spent the previous five seasons as assistant secondary coach (2007-08) and secondary coach (2009-11) with the Tennessee Titans.

It’s unclear if the Lions plan to promote Robertson to fill Walton’s shoes or if they will look to add to the staff from the outside.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 2 Comments »