Pundit and fan alike all agree, for the Detroit Lions to have play-off success, Matt Stafford must play a perfect game. It’s true Matt Stafford must avoid turnovers for the Lions to claim their first playoff victory since 1991 but there are a lot of factors that go into a quarterbacks performance.
Zach Zenner could be one of those factors for the Detroit Lions on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.
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It is a fact, every great performance at quarterback is supported by a solid running game. Take the New England Patriots for example. New England manages to keep opposing defenses honest with an opportunistic rushing scheme. If the Detroit Lions expect to have Matt Stafford to have his best game of the season, Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will have to do the same.
Tale of Two Halves
For the last two weeks, Zach Zenner has attacked the line with great effectiveness in the first half and looked well on his way to rushing for 100 yards. Despite the early game success, Jim Bob Cooter has inexplicably gone away from the running game opting to a pass heavy attack which left the Lions one dimensional.
The Lions coaching staff attributed Dr. Z’s absence in the second half to situational adjustments that called for Dwayne Washington’s skill set. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, its clear the Lions moved the ball more efficiently when the running game was a threat.
Is Zach Zenner The Answer?
Double Z was a beast while playing for Division II South Dakota State but coaching staff does not trust him enough to make him the featured runner out of the backfield. The reason is a mystery considering Zenner has easily been the most effective running back over the last quarter of the regular season. But Double Z might just be the key to a balanced Lions offensive attack that will slow the Seattle Seahawk pass rush and keep Matt Stafford upright long-enough to get the ball downfield. It will be up to the coaching staff to make the right half-time adjustments to keep the running game going and give the Lions the best chance to win.
Let’s Get Some Play Action
It is the one of the oldest offensive concepts in football but still the most effective. Many a quarterback has his bust in the hall of fame because they were able to take advantage of the play-action pass.
Now I am not saying Matt Stafford is Troy Aikman or that Zach Zenner is Emmit Smith, but we don’t need hall-of-fame of players to take advantage of the Seahawk Defense. All you need is a running game that can put Stafford in second and short situations. Zach Zenner, or more accurately the offensive scheme, was able to put the offense in this situation early in the game against both Dallas and Green Bay. This week Stafford will need to turn those situations into big plays down the field and take advantage of the Seahawk’s secondary.