Lions’ 3rd-and-short struggles highlight run-game woes

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are pretty good on third down, converting better than 40 percent of their attempts. But the team is getting it done in an unconventional way.

Hypothetically, a team’s success rate should be directly related to how many yards they have to gain on third down, but the fewer yards the Lions need, the less successful they’ve been, in relation to other teams.

Needing only a yard, the Lions are converting 36.4 percent of the time, which is tied for last in those situations. This is symptomatic of the team’s ineffective short-yardage ground game.


At least fans can take solace in the fact the Lions aren’t pounding their head into a wall on these plays. The team actually has thrown the ball more often than they’ve ran on 3rd-and-1.

The Lions are significantly better extending drives in third-and-medium (between 4-6 yards) and third-and-long situations. The team ranks fifth in both categories, converting 57.7 percent with medium situations and 29.9 percent when needing more than six yards.

These numbers are just another example of the running game holding back the Lions’ offense from reaching its full potential. The team’s 3.4 yards per carry ranks 30th, and 31 percent of carries are being stopped for no gain or a loss, which is the worst rate for any team in more than a decade.