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Lions mailbag: Golladay’s impact, Ebron’s targets, Steelers' big 3

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Kenny Golladay

The bye week is over and the Pittsburgh Steelers on deck. What's on your mind Detroit Lions fans?

Golladay ready to step in to Tate’s shoes?

— Craig Hawkyard (@Lionshawk) October 23, 2017

Barring a setback with his injured hamstring, I have to imagine Kenny Golladay is back in the lineup this week. And with Golden Tate likely to be sidelined by his shoulder injury, Golladay should see a sizable snap count in his return to action.

But it's not going to be a one-to-one replacement. Tate is a different type of receiver, one who does his best work in the short areas of the field, getting quick separation at the line and making tacklers miss in the open field.

Golladay's return is important to the offense. The Lions need his size, catch radius and ability to stretch the field vertically. But TJ Jones and Theo Riddick's skill sets are more logical replacements for Tate's role.

U see how Brees throws to Kamara over and over again. Why don't the Lions use Riddick the same? slants, screens, wheel and angle routes?

— Popkie (@thePOPkie) October 23, 2017

I went back and watched the last four games worth of completed passes to Alvin Kamara and I'm not seeing much difference in the routes he runs, compared to Riddick. Most of Kamara's routes are swings, flats and outs. He probably runs a few more flats than Riddick, while the Lions back runs more angle or Texas routes coming back to the middle.

When do the Lions start really evaluating contracts? Ansah comes to mind and Ebron.

— James Sonntag (@James_Sonntag) October 23, 2017

Months ago. The evaluation process is constant and plays into draft and free-agency decisions years before a contract expires.

Eric Ebron

With Fells getting more snaps, should we expect to see more 2 TE sets or are his snaps going to eat into Ebron's?

— Brandon Garcia (@bjesus1358) October 23, 2017

Maybe there's a misconception here, based on some of Eric Ebron's recent struggles, but Darren Fells has maintained a fairly steady workload since the start of the season, between 40-70 percent of offensive snaps, depending on the game plan.

And the Lions have also utilized more multiple-TE formations this season. I went and added them up to confirm. Last year, the team had two or more tight ends on the field for 13.56 percent of the team's 981 offensive plays. This year, that's up to 23.59 percent.

Which Lion would you make CEO of your hypothetical company?

— Aaron (@AaronLeif) October 23, 2017

Matthew Stafford is smart and is going to have an easy time lining up the advertising deals based on name recognition. Don Muhlbach's aversion to unnecessary risk would help a company stay out of the red. But if I have to choose one guy, I'm going with Glover Quin. With the veteran safety, you get the right mix of intelligence, personality, leadership and a continued willingness to learn new things.

Best Batman - West, Keaton, Kilmer, Bale, or Affleck? Also, why has the D been so bad on stretch or end around runs?

— Derek Wilczynski (@derekwilc) October 23, 2017

We're quickly going off the rails here, aren't we?

But if I must: Keaton, Bale, West, Affleck, Kilmer, Clooney.

Oh, you worked a football question in there, too. Nice job.

Your query seems to have a heavy dose of recency bias, after the Saints wrecked the Lions around the edges. The Falcons also had some success, but it's going to be tough to stop one the NFL's best backs when you're down your two best second-level run stoppers in Jarrad Davis and Tavon Wilson, who were both sidelined by injury that week.

I don't have any good answers for why the team fell apart against the Saints. There were some possible schematic issues with the defensive ends pinching in too aggressively, potentially overcompensating for the absence of Haloti Ngata, but I don't want to judge a trend based on such a small sample size.

Are defenses targeting Ebron more because they don't fear our WRs or is Stafford just not looking at him?

— Random Dude (@Steward2778) October 23, 2017

With Abdullah and Riddick healthy and Fells and TJ Jones contributing, it's more of a lack of targets to spread around. Someone is going to get shorted and Ebron has been one of the top losers in this department. It's also possible his drop issues are contributing to a decreased role. The coaching staff will deny that, and so would Stafford, but if the trust level is diminished, it would only make sense the targets decrease.

Is there any talk in scheme or technique changes for the Lions offensive line?

— Buck Wheat  (@Buck__wheat) October 23, 2017

There's always tweaks being made, but the Lions aren't going to overhaul the blocking scheme mid-season. It's simply impractical. Remember, many believe the overall play of offensive linemen has been diminished by the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which slashed practice time. It takes a great deal of time to build chemistry up front and if you try to change everything mid-stream, it would be a disaster. Yes, even more so than the current setup.

What was your favorite thing you did during the bye. #justintime

— Eric Chase. (@Eric_Chase) October 23, 2017

Family time and social life both take big hits during the season, so a trip to the cider mills with the kids and a round of golf with friends were both excellent choices on the only back-to-back days I will have off until the end of the year.

Why isn't anyone blaming the slew of injuries on Harold Nash? After all that's why they got rid of him in NE.

— Steve (@finekite_steve) October 23, 2017

It's probably unfair to suggest that was the definitive reason Nash was fired in New England, but it was a noted factor. Also, let's not pretend like the Lions have one of the league's worst injury situations. Football Outsiders tracks these things and the Lions actually lost fewer games to injury in 2016 than they did in 2015, ranking in the middle of the league.

The Lions have suffered some big blows this year, which skews our perspective. What you're not seeing is a ton of muscle strains, which would be a sign of over-training. I wouldn't be raising any red flags about Nash's approach at this time.

Is there ever anything interesting in the report Caldwell often references?

— LarryTheS.M.G. (@larrythesmg) October 23, 2017

No. It's pretty straight forward -- body part injured and whether a player participated in practice.

Le'Veon Bell

Steelers looked good against a good Bengals defense. Big Ben was effective & Bell was great. Do the Lions have the D to stop them?

— John Popovits (@The_Johnny_Pop) October 23, 2017

That's the big question heading into the primetime showdown: Can the Lions limit the Steelers' big three? There might not be a better back in the NFL than Le'Veon Bell, who can run inside and outside with great patience, plus catches passes out of of the backfield. And Antonio Brown is leading the NFL in receiving yards by a wide margin and doing huge damage after the catch.

What the Lions need to do is get back to forcing takeaways. Roethlisberger has been sloppy at times this season, throwing an interception in four of the team's seven games, so winning the turnover battle will be huge.

What are the chances Tion Green play in the upcoming games?

— Sweta Patel (@sweta2311) October 23, 2017

I can't completely rule it out, but he remains fifth on the depth chart and the team generally keeps three backs active on game day. Green would have to jump both Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington to get his shot.