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Adam Duerson
June 24, 2009
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June 24, 2009

Detroit Lions

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Sure, the new coaching staff wants to run the ball. But anyone who has witnessed the Lions lately knows how well that works without a defense to speak of. (They've ranked 30th or worse in rushing in each of the past three seasons.) Besides hiring defensive-minded head coach Jim Schwartz, the team has done little to rectify the situation: It drafted offense with five of its first eight 2009 picks and even considered selecting running back Beanie Wells, which says something about the new regime's opinion of incumbent starter Kevin Smith. On the positive side, there's nowhere to go but up: Only the Texans have run the ball fewer times this decade.

The offense will be in the capable hands of coordinator Scott Linehan, who has previously overseen both Daunte Culpepper and Marc Bulger during 4,000-yard passing seasons. Under Linehan both of those passers had a reputation for throwing long, which is good to know if No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford plays. Stafford possesses a booming cannon that could do wonders in such a deep-ball-oriented system, especially with a guy like Calvin Johnson snagging jump balls. If it's Culpepper under center, then expect a shorter game. Whoever it is, a No. 2 or 3 receiver needs to emerge, most likely either free agent Bryant Johnson or rookie Derrick Williams. Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew will probably be tied up blocking, since Detroit didn't address its offensive line until the seventh round of the draft.

The Lions aren't entirely undraftable, but they're close. Johnson is the only safe bet; Smith will run behind a relatively unchanged line, and Williams could surprise. Invest in anyone else and you're rolling the dice.

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