WillieYoung

The “Chip” that counts most against the Lions may not be named “Kelly”…

Everyone's talking about how dominant and obstructive the Detroit Lions' defensive line is…

But the cold fact is, the Eagles offense has the know-how and the studied technique to neutralize that DL… it often boils down to how effectively you can "chip 'em"…

It's called a "chip block"…

It's effectively a double-team block from either a tight end or a tailback, helping out their O-Line guy, and many teams have been using them in slowing Detroit's defensive ends from rolling up the sack stats.

Lions' defensive end Willie Young is pretty frustrated by chip blocks so far this season.

Willie is 6-4, 255, and in his 4th year out of NC State. He's made a nice living bringing the heat on opposing quarterbacks. The Lions were built to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

But the chip block has cooled Willie's jets this season, as well as the rest of the Lions' DL.

They're calling Willie Young "chipper" these days around the Detroit Lions locker room.

It has nothing to do with his upbeat attitude. And it's definitely not referring to his short game.

It's the kind of block he's getting targeted with play after play after play…

"Whenever I get a chipper, man, it turns into jungle rules," Young said. "Honestly, in terms you will understand, it turns into survival mode. That's what it turns into. I can't reach up and tell the offensive coordinator for the opposing team to stop chipping this much, but I do tell those guys when they come to the line, 'Hey man, you lay a hand on me, it's going to be the worst day of your life.'

"And they still put their hands on me, so clearly they don't care."

Clearly, they don't. The chips are coming from all directions at the ends, while the tackles are being doubled on nearly every play in the interior.

In other words: Detroit is seeing near-constant double-teams across the line, one possible explanation for why the unit isn't putting up eye-popping sack stats.

"I haven't seen anything like it in all my years playing football," said defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, a ninth-year veteran. "The amount of double-teams each person is receiving across the board, on any given play, it's amazing. Sometimes the nose will be one-on-one, if we're lucky. But even that's really a double, because the centers normally slide.

"That's our main challenge right now. Dealing with the doubles. We haven't had a team just line up and play us straight. I've never seen anything like it."

It's easy to say Detroit's defensive line is inconsistent, and maybe it is. It ravaged the Chicago Bears four weeks ago, hitting quarterback Jay Cutler 10 times.

But Ben Roethlisberger was touched only once three weeks ago. He picked apart Detroit's secondary, too, and Pittsburgh scored 37 points en route to victory.

Detroit, though, says it's difficult to maintain consistency when their linemen are engulfed in double teams on every play.

"It makes me sick sometimes," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "We see those same teams play against other teams that I think are good pass-rush teams, and the receivers come out. They end up five- to six-man protection schemes and that's easier to break.

"But when you have all your guys doubled up front, it's pretty hard."

It's a sign of respect that teams are allocating seven players simply to stopping Detroit's pass rush. But it's also one of disregard for Detroit's secondary, as teams believe they can make plays vertically with only four players outside the box.

And they're doing it. The Lions rank 30th against the pass.

That allows offenses to get away with the constant max-protections, a major reason why Detroit has only 26 sacks this season — 25th in the NFL.

And that has linemen such as Young frustrated, as he gets a double team on nearly every play.

"Three weeks ago we had (Pittsburgh receiver) Jerricho Cotchery, an old N.C. State guy," said Young, a fellow North Carolina State alum. "I told him, 'Yo, you're my homeboy right? Look man, please don't chip me. I'm just looking for one one-on-one. Just let me be. After that, you can do whatever you want to do.'

"Got down, put my hand down, (they) said hike — one step, pow! He got me."

[Thanks to Kyle Meinke of MichiganLive.com for use of theinterview quotes in this story…]

 

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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