Lions running game is the key to success

Czar: Are you guys starting to believe the Lions are a good team?

JJ: Not only good, but I think they are an elite team. They will be in the playoffs as long as Matthew Stafford stays healthy.

HL: They are extremely tough at home. The other player they need to keep healthy is Jahvid Best. He showed the Bears that he can be such an explosive game changer. And that’s been something the Lions have been lacking.

MS: Almost, but not quite, as explosive as Calvin Johnson.

HL: They have fallen behind in a number of games and they haven’t been able to run. But the running game exploded last Monday night.

JJ: The only thing about the Lions is that they will probably have to go in as a wild-card team. The other thing is that this team hasn’t been in the playoffs before and it’s almost one of those deals where they can have an outstanding season, go in as wild card and get bounced out early. But even then that would be a tremendous accomplishment from where this franchise has been.

MS: Jimmy has hit it right on the head, I think. They will make it, but I don’t think they will go all the way because they don’t have that experience. It’s kind of like what some guys say about the Pro Bowl. You make it the year after you should have made it. Then you stay there a year later than you should.

HL: Think of the teams the Lions are competing with. Tampa Bay has been up and down and the NFC East is all over the place. Green Bay now is awfully good, but the Lions might have the kryptonite for the Packers; kind of like Michael’s group in New York against New England in the Super Bowl. I think that pass rush could make a difference. Detroit’s front is very tough to deal with.

Curt Menefee: The Bears’ offensive line looked so shook up against that Detroit pass rush. They must have had nine false starts and now they are thinking of benching some guys.

HL: Jay Cutler again proved how talented he is. He was making throws off the wrong foot and he seemed to be under pressure every time he dropped back.

Czar: Does anybody believe that Andy Reid can fix the last-place Eagles?

Jimmy Johnson: I’m not sure that the Eagles can be fixed. The Eagles have screwed up their offensive line. And it’s atrocious what they are doing on defense.

Terry Bradshaw: I never thought you could go out and get all the players that Philadelphia signed in the offseason and really expect there to be great chemistry once the season started.

Michael Strahan: I know they were called the Dream Team, but really the media flat out anointed the Eagles as the team to beat.

JJ: But I don’t have any qualms with the talent they have, and the quality players they picked up.

TB: But what about all these rumors about hiring a defensive consultant? If any of that is true, maybe Andy Reid ought to move on.

JJ: Howard Mudd was a very good offensive line coach for Peyton Manning and the Colts. But the Eagles don’t have Manning and this is not the Indianapolis offense, either. That screwed up the offensive line. Now, I don’t know Juan Castillo, but this is the worst tackling bunch I’ve ever seen.

Howie Long: The pickups that they made were great. They were building their defense to beat the likes of Green Bay and New Orleans. But after they spent all this money and got all this talent, they decided to make their offensive line coach the defensive coordinator.

JJ: I’m sure there are veteran defensive players on that team that are wondering what the heck kind of scheme are we running.

TB: That’s why they’ve won only one game. Nobody believes in what they are doing there.

JJ: They lined up in a scheme against Buffalo where they didn’t have any linebackers inside of the guards. And the quarterback just sneaked for about five yards.

MS: The Eagles may have a lot of talent on defense, but their linebackers are simply average and most of them are very young.

TB: The Steelers in the ‘70s had light linebackers, nobody was over 225 pounds, but we always had two tanks inside at defensive tackle.

MS: But the Eagles use that wide-nine defensive approach, just like what Mathis and Freeney use in Indianapolis. They are coming after the quarterback.

TB: It makes sense to be rushing the quarterback. The league is averaging like 45 passes a game. Teams aren’t thinking about stopping the run, but stopping the pass.

Czar: Huge game in New England. Does anybody think the Cowboys can win?

TB: I don’t think Dallas has prayer of winning this game.

HL: I disagree with Terry. I think Dallas could win this game.

JJ: The big thing is that the Cowboys are finally getting healthy. And you have to figure that Rex and Rob Ryan are talking a lot this week about how to beat the Patriots. Rob played the Patriots pretty good when he was the defensive coordinator in Cleveland. And the Patriots still have problems on defense and nobody who can really rush Tony Romo.

Czar: What do you think of Broncos coach John Fox making Tim Tebow the starter?

JJ: I’m anxious to see him play.

HL: I think that’s where everybody is.

JJ: Now, the Broncos have two weeks to get him ready to play now. I think it would have been difficult for the coaches and the team to work on packages for Tebow while knowing Kyle Orton was still the quarterback. But now that Tebow is the starter, they can put in packages, spread-type offense things.

TB: I totally agree with Jimmy. Tebow fumbled the center snap three times last Sunday. They should have him in shotgun all the time.

HL: I will say this about Tebow. I think he is the genuine article. He is exactly who he says he is.

JJ: But there has been so much misinformation coming out of that place whether they like the guy as a player or not.

MS: I have to think there are some in that organization who don’t want to see him play because he is not their idea of an ideal NFL quarterback.

JJ: He will be judged not on his passing numbers, but like Michael Vick was in Atlanta. His winning percentage will decide his fate. It is pretty obvious when he comes into a game, that Tebow is a lot better game player than he is a practice player.

CM: To the general fan, I think you have to wonder what he’d be like in a system that is built totally geared to him. If you are going to play him, isn’t it better to change the entire offense to suit him?

JJ: When he was coming out of college and there was talk of Jacksonville drafting him, I said the Jaguars should hire his Florida coach, Urban Meyer, as their offensive coordinator. That way Meyer could put in the spread offense for him. And do what he does best.

TB: I like him. I mean Joe Kapp wasn’t pretty, but he got the Vikings to the Super Bowl. I think he will be successful. I am kind of shocked he can’t take a snap. Even at Florida, he was still in shotgun inside the 5-yard line. He’s totally uncomfortable under center. I would put him back there. Carolina is doing that with Cam Newton most of the time.

HL: They owe it to the kid to give him a chance to be successful.

MS: He looks like he has to do something different than what he’s used to. Kind of like a golfer when they change his swing. It looks like he is thinking about how to do everything right.

TB: You can’t hurt him. He’s built like a brick house. And if the coaches left over from last year’s staff are prejudiced against him, then John Fox should get rid of them.

JJ: Like I always say, just open up another can of offensive coaches.

HL: How mentally tough is Tebow? I mean, there has been so much stuff leaked out of that organization about him being either third string or that the players really prefer Orton as their quarterback. He’s an impressive young man.