It has been a while since I posted here on the Bleacher Report. It’s been a nice summer and I’ve been biding my time, watching the news come in while waiting to see if I was a fool or not for believing the Lions are really going to be a different team this year. After having watched a little taste of what the Lions have in store, I’d like to share a few observations about the first pre season game.
Lets look at the good, and bad of the Lions first pre season game.
“The Good and Bad, on Defense”
The Lions starting front four is exactly what it should be; a dominating force. For the entire first quarter of play (against the Steelers first string offense) the Lions were able to get penetration, dominate the line of scrimmage and cause two fumbles (although they didn’t recover either of them).
Ndamukong Suh was double-teamed on his first series, and consistently throughout the first quarter of play, allowing many opportunities for Cliff Avril and KVB that would not have existed otherwise.
Cliff Avril is showing some serious improvements in his pass rushing and run containment.
Kyle Vanden Bosch is an animal, and he’s going to wreak havoc along with Avril.
Corey Williams was also showing flashes of immediate penetration behind the line of scrimmage. I guess it helps when you have a rookie standing next to you that demands a double team.
At one point I saw thee out of four Lions defensive linemen behind the line of scrimmage immediately after the snap, that was a refreshing change of pace, wasn't it?
This unit is going to be incredible when Suh develops, they look to have the ability to take over the line of scrimmage and own the blockers, this is going to force extra protection and cause match up issues for every offense.
The defense was constantly swarming the around ball. Even the second string offense was very actively pursuing the ball, as well as slapping and batting it when the opportunity arose (again causing two fumbles).
Big plays were rare even against the second defense with the exception of the Antonio Brown (former CMU Chippewa) pass for over 50 yards and a TD. Against the first offense though, we saw a much lower average yards allowed per play than the games from last year. I don’t know what the stat was exactly but they looked far more stout on average yards allowed per play. Jim Schwartz is quoted saying that he's very happy with the performances of both the starting defensive line and offensive lines in their performance at Pittsburgh.
Sammie Lee Hill looked very good on several plays all though he was out of position on others. Obviously though he’s a force on the Lions defensive line that will add a solid push from the bench for the Lions defensive front four.
Chris Huston showed he does have the wheels to cover, and the ability to play the ball.
Zach Follett was there, but did not really make his presence known. I’m going to have to watch the game again tomorrow, but it may have only been because the front four were really hogging all the glory on defense as many plays were broken up early and short.
A couple pass interference calls on the second string corners did not give me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing what we have at the 1st string positions there.
Amari Spievey was not as impressive looking as I had hoped he would be, all though his action was probably limited due to his recent injuries. I was actually surprised to see him out there at all given his recent injuries. Lets hope he shows some progress in the next few pre season games.
“The Good and Bad, on Offense”
Matthew Stafford looked very sharp and made a lot of good decisions, throws with zip, and quick execution.
Jahvid Best looked incredible with a 4.8 yard average in his first attempt rushing against the Pittsburgh Steelers mostly assembled first string defense (at Pittsburgh no less) is a very good sign about Best’s ability to run the football. He obviously has the speed, and moves to make a lot of NFL defenders miss flat out. On one play he ran right into the face of a defender, then stopped, turned up field and ran for 10 yards. It was incredible to see. He’s got some serious potential folks. This guy is special, and he could single-handedly open up the field for Calvin Johnson and a wide cast of receivers for Stafford to chose from.
Speaking of running backs, outside of his fumble directly into the hands of a defender on the goal line, Dede Dorsey showed he could be a solid back up running back. He showed both power running and some elusiveness to make guys miss, all though nothing like the quick and nimble Best.
I believe a running back committee between Best, Smith and Dorsey could be a highly effective combo based on what we saw today.
Speaking of running backs, was Maurice Morris even in the game today? One reception for eight yards, and two rushes for two yards, with a one yard average! Maurice you’re not making a strong case for a roster spot, you need to pick up the pace. In any case I think he could end up being the odd man out when it comes time to cut to the 53 man roster.
Aaron Brown may have the kick return job locked down as he preformed admirably in the role against the Steelers, however we’ll see how he does the next few weeks. As of now, he appears to be the front runner for the KR/PR at this point.
One of my favorite parts of the Lions first preseason game is that 15 receivers caught a pass. Calvin Johnson, Nate Burelson, Tony Scheffler, Bryant Johnson, Dan Gronkowski, Tim Toone, Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, Aaron Brown, Eric Fowler, Dede Dorsey, Derrick Williams, Jerome Felton, Dennis Northcut, and Brian Clark all caught a football while wearing a Lions Jersey in the first preseason game. The first five all caught passes thrown by Stafford in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. That is a very good thing indeed as the Detroit Lions receiving corps looks to be much improved from years of the past.
I can honestly say I saw very few of the dropped balls we are so accustomed to seeing the Lions execute on the field. Granted it’s only the preseason, but there were a lot of very solid “grabs” that were made. These receivers are all reaching and snatching the ball from the air and it has dramatically improved their efficiency as a group of receivers.
Jeff Backus, why did you have to trip that guy? Actually I have to disagree with that call, he wasn’t “tripping”, in reality Jeff Backus got blasted off his feet on the play and the defender was tripped because one big man knocks over another and tries to hurdle a guy the size of Backus, and you will probably trip. The fact that Backus was flat on his butt though was not an encouraging site. He needs to pick it up though because he’s the highest paid player on that line, yet today he actually looked the worst out of all of them.
Pop up pass deflections were starting to scare me as the game went on. Several players including Will Heller and Jahvid Best missed passes only to pop the ball floating into the air. These situations are never good as they give way too much time for a defender to get under the ball and intercept it as we saw Ryan Clark do after Best popped up the ball.
All in all the Lions first preseason game showed a lot of promise to Lions fans. After all, the Lions have done great in the preseason in recent years and it means nothing in the big picture when the regular season begins. I wouldn't care if they lost all four preseason games because they are meaningless.
Even Tiki Barber was quoted saying the Lions will win 9 games and are the dark horse/sleeper to win the NFC North this year on yahoo sports. So how about you? After watching the first Lions preseason game, what do you think the Lions can do in 2010?