In the year Two weeks into the 2022 season, it’s one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, leading the league in points (2.79) and points per game (35.5). In an age of analytics and airtime, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell’s old-school approach and commitment to running the ball has stood in contrast to much of the league — and it’s working. The Lions are making life difficult for the defense, embarrassing the run game in a gap scheme, in part, because it’s different from other offenses.
The popularity of the outside zone system stemming from Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay has led many teams to adopt a Vic Fangio-style defense, which requires defensive linemen to play slower and take space and half. Play to the field and only one gap. In theory, the defense could invest more personnel to stay in the light boxes and help the front end cool down the ball carriers down to the secondary. This works well on zone runs because the offensive linemen move laterally, but the Lions like to run into the teeth of the defense with power. They look for one of the best offensive lines in the league to punish defenders with vertical shooting.
With an offensive mentality, the Lions have averaged 7.15 yards per rush in their first two games. They are tied for third with seven rushing yards (12 or more yards rushing).