Do the Lions Have Secret Offensive Weapons?
I grew up back in the 1980s and early '90s watching and studying Joe Gibbs religiously.
Not only did Gibbs resonate with my soul more than any other coach I have ever seen or been around, but Gibbs was also a master at making adjustments.
It is now getting to be time for the Detroit Lions to do just that - - to start making some adjustments.
After opening the season at 1-3, the Silver and Blue find themselves looking up in the NFC North at the 4-0 Green Bay Packers.
It is time to pull the proverbial emergency brake.
It is time to pull out all the stops and to make some of those adjustments before it is too late.
One of those adjustments is getting No. 39 Jamal Agnew on the field more often.
This jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none cornerback turned receiver is good for this offense.
His legitimate, visible emotion is infectious.
Positive guys like this need to be on the field more.
After not seeing the ball much the first two weeks and understandably so, as he lacked noticeable polish as a route runner against Chicago and Green Bay, he looked to have found his niche in Week 3 against Arizona.
He ran shorter screen and wheel routes, and operated as a safety valve for Stafford.
Most of all, he has been effective running routes as a decoy, clearing out areas for other receivers to get open.
While he struggles to get separation from defensive backs due to running sloppy-looking routes and tightness in his hips, he absolutely is commanding their respect in coverage.
While I do not ever see Agnew developing into a pure receiver for the above reasons, I would like to see Agnew get converted one more time -- this time to running back.
As a returner, he has shown hard-charging determination, quickness, vision and balance, and I believe those characteristics translate well to running back.
In fact, he took his first handoff against New Orleans in Week 4 for a short first-down run.
I want to see him get more reps and hand-offs between the tackles.
I would not just call him a third-down back, either.
I believe he has more value than that.
I would like to see him run a reverse, too, and believe we will see that soon.
Bevell appeared to be setting the table for a reverse already by running him on a fake end-around against Arizona.
Additionally, I would like to see Detroit go to more of a two-back set on first-and-second-downs, and match up a linebacker against Agnew on deep go-routes out of that set or motion him pre-snap into the slot to run more decoy routes -- which seem to successfully clear things out for the other receivers.
I have never really seen anyone successfully make this transition from playing defense to offense while already in the NFL, outside of Deion Sanders dabbling with it.
Agnew seems to have what it takes. He also seems to have the favor of the coaches.
Normally, an experiment like this is done in training camp or maybe the preseason, if at all.
Instead, the Lions are doing this in the regular season, and Agnew finds his role evolving quickly. And I feel he has earned the right to see even more playing time.
This offense needs him in order to be successful.
It is not what he does per se, but he is a cohesive. He makes things work better.
I have discovered two other players that I feel deserve more opportunities with the ball.
The first is tight end Jesse James.
Last season when watching No. 83, he struck me as an average tweener of a tight end.
In other words, he was average-looking in every sense of the word as a blocker and as a receiver.
However, this season, he seems determined to take his game to a higher level.
While playing in two tight end sets and often being overshadowed by T.J. Hockenson, James has primarily been thought of as a try-hard, hold-the-point run blocker.
However, in this season's tale of dropped passes, James is quickly carving out a new role for himself.
He is now catching nearly everything thrown in his direction.
He is also finding ways to get open, and he is competing hard for the ball. He is making himself harder to ignore.
James made a nice grab for a touchdown against Arizona, and he came back the following week against New Orleans and plucked it right out of the air in tight coverage.
He is showing a lot of effort, too -- both as a run blocker and while running routes.
While he is nowhere close to God's gift to either, it seems Stafford is quietly developing some chemistry with him.
I would like to see five-plus passes thrown his way every game moving forward.
He is not going to run away from any defense in the league, but he seems to be becoming a viable short-to-intermediate target.
He deserves to have his number called more.
I like his "want."
The Lions could have a poor man's tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez from back in the day in New England.
Thus, the coaching staff may want to start taking this tandem of Hockenson and James more into consideration when it comes to its game-planning.
Marvin Hall deserves more playing time and opportunities, too.
I really liked Hall last season in film study, and I like a lot of what I have seen out of him this season.
He has legitimate quickness and speed, and he can snap off sharp-looking routes with his hip flexibility.
While Stafford is not throwing to him a whole lot this season for whatever reason, I still watch him running routes, and he is still showing a knack for getting open.
And that deep pass against Arizona when he got behind those two defensive backs was a thing of beauty.
The play was called back, but it was still a really good-looking route.
He got behind Green Bay's defense nicely, too, on that touchdown grab.
I thought Hall had legitimate home-run hitting ability last season, and there is nothing this year beside a dropped pass or two to make me think otherwise.
He needs reps. He needs opportunities.
I would like to see him running deep posts, deep, hard comeback routes and any routes underneath that feature a quick change of direction in which Detroit can take advantage of opposing corners with any kind of stiffness in their hips.
Hall clearly is being under utilized in the attack.
It is time to make some changes, and it is time to get a heck of a lot more aggressive on offense.
And that starts with getting Agnew, James and Hall a lot more involved.
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