Preseason success doesn’t always translate to the regular season—especially in the case of the Detroit Lions.
This preseason, Detroit managed to dismantle the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. The Lions also won a competitive game with the New York Jets, while struggling in a loss in Cleveland against the Browns.
That 3-1 record isn’t as promising as it sounds.
In 2008, Detroit finished 4-0 in the preseason, but during the regular season—when the games mattered—the hearts of the Lions skipped a few beats…about 16 to be exact.
However, this 2013 Detroit team is completely different from the Lions that held their heads low every Sunday in 2008. The offense is very potent with Calvin Johnson coming off a record-setting season. The addition of running back Reggie Bush provides quarterback Matthew Stafford with a dependable option in the backfield and an additional offensive play besides of a heave to a receiver.
According to profootballreference.com, Stafford threw the ball an NFL-record 727 times last season—a number that will greatly decrease in 2013. With that decrease in quantity, an increase in quality should follow.
But the main issues come on the opposite side of the ball.
The Lions re-signed many key defensive players, such as safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston, and much of this squad is similar to that of 2012, which continually gave up big plays.
Back then, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch broke a 77-yard touchdown run, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson burst out for a 61-yard TD run and former Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Marcus Sherels had a kickoff and punt return in the same game.
Big plays happen, but this is excessive.
Detroit’s defensive unit cannot allow multiple big plays such as those listed above in 2013. Their 4-3 defense is going to have to put more pressure on offenses and learn to stop the chains from moving down the field so easily.
Defensive tackle and often-misbehaved Ndamukong Suh managed to behave (for the most part) last season, which may have been the D-line’s problem. Perhaps Suh should put his name in more headlines this season, so the Lions defense will play with the heart of their mascot and stop the highlight plays.
Regardless of the route the defense goes, Detroit needs to get on the same page on both sides of the ball. Green Bay has already perfected the art of killer-offense, absent-defense style football, so Detroit needs to make the proper adjustments to not play a similar style.