Five questions with Zac Snyder, lead editor of SideLion Report…
1. What’s up with Matthew Stafford? First he’s got a hammy, now he’s got a hip?
SLR: He returned to practice on Thursday and all signs point to him being able to play against the Vikings on Sunday. Hip, hamstring, butt, all those areas have been mentioned as the epicenter of the injury but the Lions give out just enough information to keep the league off their back and nothing more.
2. Tough loss for your club last weekend. Any concern that this thing could start going downhill?
SLR: Ask me after this week’s game and I’ll have a better answer. The Lions avoided losing “should win” games last year as their losses all came against playoff teams and the Bears before Cutler and Forte went down. Losing one “should win” this year is a concern but losing two, and Sunday’s game is definitely a “should win”, would be really troubling. While the season could become a disappointment, I don’t worry about an unraveling. The Lions have a good locker room and steady management so they should be able to handle a bump in the road.
3. The Lions had some trouble getting pressure against Jake Locker. What’s going on with that supposedly dominating D-line?
SLR: It is definitely an area that needs to improve. They need to be getting to the quarterback quicker to take pressure off the secondary. It is a key component in helping to cover up a weakness but it didn’t happen a week ago. The sack totals looked OK through two weeks but the goose egg last week is inexcusable. They’ll be looking to make up for it against Christian Ponder.
4. Mikel Leshoure ran 26 times against Tennessee. Was that just Detroit reacting to what the Titans’ did defensively or do you think they plan on featuring Leshoure a lot from here on?
SLR: There is a lot of talk going on in Detroit about the team’s offensive identity. They’ve appeared hell-bent on running the ball the last two weeks and Leshoure’s return made it look much better than it did against the 49ers when he was still suspended. Leshoure is clearly the favored back right now so he will see a lot of action. There is a vocal faction of Lions fans wondering why the team is seemingly abandoning what they do best. I’m starting to get the feeling that the way they played last year was how they HAD to play while the increased running game so far this year is the way they WANT to play. It will be an interesting story to follow the rest of the season.
5. Things are kind of topsy-turvy in the division right now. How do you see it shaking out? Pack on top at the end like everyone expects or someone else?
SLR: The Packers are probably still the favorite in my mind, largely because the Lions have been slow out of the gate as well. I would call the Bears the team most likely to take the Pack’s place in my mind but they are too dysfunctional and Forte’s injury hurts their ground game. I don’t see the Vikings having the staying power to compete for the division title despite being a nice early season story. I’ll say this, it is definitely more wide open than I would have guessed at the beginning of the season.
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