Scott Mitchell Suggests Barry Sanders Hindered Lions’ Offensive Performance

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell is persisting in his efforts to clarify the narrative surrounding his time in Detroit. In a comprehensive feature interview with The Athletic, the ex-Lions signal-caller delved into familiar themes, including his frustrations with Lomas Brown, the hurdles he encountered due to organizational decisions, and his belief that the team’s lack of success was a collective responsibility, rather than solely his fault.

When Barry Sanders’ documentary aired, Mitchell took to social media to express his frustrations, suggesting that there were numerous factors contributing to the team’s lack of playoff success. One of these factors was the transition away from a passing-oriented offense that had been highly effective during the 1995 season.

Mitchell revealed that Sylvester Croom’s offensive strategy heavily emphasized the running game, often resulting in Sanders being tackled behind the line of scrimmage and putting the team at a disadvantageous position. While Sanders’ explosive runs made him a renowned figure, Mitchell found his playing style challenging to adapt to.

“It was challenging to play with him,” Mitchell remarked. “Many other running backs of that era wouldn’t put you behind the chains as frequently as Barry did. If you didn’t utilize Barry properly, it created difficulties and placed additional pressure on everyone else.”

Mitchell argued that Tom Moore’s offensive approach, which prioritized passing, could have potentially led to greater success if he had remained with the organization. “When we utilized (Sanders) in Tom Moore’s system, I’d choose him over anyone,” Mitchell emphasized. “But what made it exceptional was our willingness to pass the football.”

Having shouldered criticism from fans, lacking close relationships with teammates, and hearing his former head coach Wayne Fontes express regrets about the leadership at the time, Mitchell regrets signing a free-agent contract with the Lions. “If I had known then what I know now, I would have stayed in Miami,” he reflected.

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