Blame Martz? Garrett thinks so.

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It is very refreshing and exciting to know that the Detroit Lions will be playing in two games in a span of five days that will actually have a profound effect on the NFC.Â

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These two games against the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers will tell us all we need to know about the Lions. We will see if they can rise to the occasion, and handle the pressure of being in the playoff hunt. Considering the fact that the two games are at Ford Field, I give the Lions a better than good chance to win both games, but under one condition. They MUST establish the running game.

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Last Sunday in Arizona, it was sickening to see Jon Kitna drop back to pass on practically every play. There is no logic behind Jon Kitna throwing 45 passes. The Lions weren’t put in a position where throwing was the only option until the fourth quarter, and I would argue that they put themselves in that position. After the Kenoy Kennedy interception, the Lions came out throwing, until they got in the red-zone, and Kevin Jones ran it in for the score. After that carry, KJ became an afterthought.

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Mike Martz’ ego overshadowed the Lions efforts by trying to display an aerial circus. Kevin Jones finished the game with four carries, T.J. Duckett, who has been playing pretty well lately, had only one carry. Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett are not bad running backs. To have two solid running backs that are active on your roster should be an asset.

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Being one-dimensional makes things a lot easier for the defense. The defensive line can rush the passer at will, and the linebackers and defensive backs won’t even bite on play action fakes. Even if the passing game is clicking, and you are putting points on the board, no time is running off the clock and your defense doesn’t get adequate rest. The Lions defense is not yet at the point where they can be counted on to make key stop after key stop, as he saw on Sunday.

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 Attempting to run the ball is so vital, even if it isn’t always effective, because it will keep the defense honest. We saw that last Saturday in West Lafayette, when Michigan State’s running game wasn’t as effective as it has been in previous games, but they kept pounding the ball and it gave them the chance to use the play action to perfection.

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This coming Sunday, against the Giants, running the football is imperative. The Lions should be able to move the ball through the air on the Giants secondary, but only if Kevin Jones is utilized. Keeping Jon Kitna healthy is a big concern for the Lions, and the chances that he remains healthy will decrease if he drops back to pass 40+ times on Sunday. The Giants’ defensive line is arguably the best in the National Football League. Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, and Mathias Kiwanuka all have at least 4.5 sacks, so this will probably be the toughest challenge for the Lions o-line this season.

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The Lions will be just fine if Mike Martz’ decides not to go absolutely crazy with the passing game. The Lions played their three most balanced games offensively after the bye week, and all were wins. Mike Martz’ should use those games as references as to what plays he should be calling for the rest of the season.