John Niyo and Justin Rogers talk about the Lions-Bengals game in Cincinnati on Sunday. Detroit News
Allen Park — The sample size is too small to declare correlation equals causation, but a schematic shift paid noticeable dividends in the Detroit Lions’ victory over the Chicago Bears.
In the game, the Lions leaned heavily on the pistol formation — quarterback in shotgun and the running back directly behind him — on 16 of their 21 running plays, and for the first time this season, they gained positive yardage on every carry.
“I think we blocked better, I think No. 1,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “And obviously it’s hard in this league not to have any zero or negative plays, it’s difficult. But that just shows a sign hopefully that we continue to get better, let’s see how we do this game.”
The team’s running backs say they don’t care how they’re aligned before the snap, but there’s one element of the pistol formation rookie Tion Green enjoys.
“I get the ball in my hands fast,” Green said. “Every running back likes that. The quicker we get the ball in our hands, the quicker we can make a play.”
Given the ground game’s success against the Bears, with the running backs gaining 90 yards on 19 carries, it would make sense the Lions would explore sticking with what’s working. But in doing so, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter wants to make certain the offense’s formations aren’t leading to predictable play calls.
“We’re trying to find a way to sort of do all those things and not have really strong tendencies that the defense can take advantage of,” Cooter said.