Among the elements that make the Lions’ passing game tough to deal with, according to one veteran NFL defensive assistant familiar with the attack, is the presence of TEs Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.
“Scheffler and Pettigrew both are matchup nightmares inside,” said the assistant, who shared his insights with PFW on condition of anonymity.
Pettigrew (6-5, 265) has the Lions’ second-most targeted player behind star WR Calvin Johnson in each of the past two seasons, with more than 110 passes thrown his way in each campaign. He’s a key possession threat in this offense, a big target that moves well.
Scheffler (6-5, 255) primarily has played a complementary role as a pass receiver, but his ability to be aligned wide, like a wide receiver, can cause matchup issues, the assistant said, for defenses must make a quick decision whether to cover him with a linebacker or defensive back. Scheffler has some field-stretching ability; he gained more than 13 yards per catch in 2011.
The biggest problem for those trying to stop the Lions, of course, is Johnson, who demands special attention.
“Nobody’s going to leave Calvin Johnson singled up,” the assistant said.