When the Lions came into Lambeau back on October 3rd, Scott Linehan, Detroit’s offensive coordinator, ate the Packers’ fire zone pressure scheme up with a variety of screens and delayed passes to the backs and tight ends. Particularly on third down, whenever Dom Capers brought pressure, Linehan had a screen or a drag play ready to counter it.
One of the things Detroit did so well was use their tight ends on delayed crossing patterns over the middle where Capers had sent his patented double A gap crossing blitz with A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett. Lions quarterback Shaun Hill simply went to a max protect, invited the rush by taking a deep back-peddle, and then hitting a tight end on a cross or a late release into the flat. Once the ball was in their hands, the Lions were usually greeted with nothing but grass until well past the first down marker.
Making matters worse were the few times the Packers actually had a man in coverage, most often Brandon Chillar, he missed the tackle. This happened at least three times and they all resulted in first downs. That simply can not happen again.
Look for Capers to ease off on the cross dog stuff, at least initially. He has been using a lot more straight-up four man rushes the last month or so. That could become an issue if C.J. Wilson and/or Jarius Wynn aren’t able to get a push up the middle in place of the injured Cullen Jenkins. But expect to see a lot of Capers’ 2-4-5 with both Zombo and Matthews rushing straight off the edge with a mix of man and zone behind it, with a lot less of the fire-zone stuff Capers ran back in October.