Detroit Lions Preseason: Grading All Aspects of the Team at the Halfway Point

Dominic KopekCorrespondent IIAugust 25, 2011

Detroit Lions Preseason: Grading All Aspects of the Team at the Halfway Point

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    As Matthew Stafford's fist pump shows, the Lions have had themselves quite a preseason. So far they are 2-0 with a convincing home win and a comeback road victory.

    I know it is only preseason, but the Lions are just living up to the hype so far. 

    Yes, there have been injuries, which is always scary, but with the exception of LeShoure's, none of them are too serious or detrimental to the team.

    If I say any more, it will be too much, so here are the grades for every aspect of the Detroit Lions at the halfway point of preseason.

Offensive Line

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    Grade: B

    The offensive line has only given up one sack thus far in the preseason. That is pretty impressive in two games, and don't even say they don't go after the quarterback as hard in the preseason. Tell Ndamukong Suh that...

    The reason I do give them a B, though, is because our running backs are only getting 3.1 yards per carry. It all starts in the trenches, and that isn't really getting it done. It would help if some of our starters were healthy as most of them are recovering from injuries.

    The Lions need their offensive line to be healthy this year, along with being good. A B grade won't really cut it if the Lions are going to make the playoffs.

Tight Ends

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    Grade: INC

    I'll have to give the tight ends an incomplete only because we have yet to see Pettigrew and Scheffler both play at the same time this offseason. They are both vital to our passing and running game and I need to see them on the field together to give them a complete grade. 

    Pettigrew missed the game against Cincinatti and Tony Scheffler missed the game against the Browns.  Both played fairly well in their time on the field though.

    Will Heller has played well during the first two weeks of the preseason too, but the group is not complete, hence the INC.

Running Backs

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    Grade: B

    Losing Mikel LeShoure was a big hit to the Lions' season plan, but as injury comes, you must adjust.  The Lions tried to adjust by signing Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison, but so far they have been outplayed by Ian Johnson who was on the practice squad last year. 

    As previously mentioned, through the first two preseason games, the Lions are only averaging 3.1 yards per carry. That is not going to cut it this season, as the Lions need at least a 4.0 YPC average if they want to be successful.

    The grade would be much lower if the Lions backs weren't catching the ball so well. Heck, Aaron Brown led the Lions in receiving last game with five catches for 49 yards. Best has also been active in the passing game, catching three balls so far. 

    It would be pretty clutch for the Lions running backs to always be a good checkdown option. The Lions will be using the short passing game to running backs as de facto run plays this year so they need backs with hands.

    Overall, the running backs get a B and with a healthy offensive line and tight ends, I am sure that YPC average will increase.

Wide Receivers

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    Grade: A

    The wide receivers have been great this preseason. With Calvin having a great game against the Bengals and Burleson having two great games, it is easy to give them an A. Heck, even Derrick Williams and Maurice Stovall have performed admirably. 

    This group has played well and will continue to improve as the season goes on.

Quarterbacks

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    Grade: A

    It is easy to give the quarterbacks an A so far. They have been throwing the lights out and have yet to really make any big mistake. 

    The quarterbacks combined for a 70 percent completion rate against the Bengals with 280 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Browns, they regressed a little and competed 66 percent of their passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

    Stafford has looked really good and so has Drew Stanton. Hill is still the No. 2 though and he has played solid as well. 

    Overall, the quarterbacks are playing great and an A is an easy grade.

Defensive Line

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    Grade: B+

    The Lions defensive line is a staple of the defense. As I said earlier, it all starts in the trenches. Suh, Vanden Bosch, Avril and Corey Williams have to be dynamic to make this defense work. 

    Not to mention first-round pick Nick Fairley who we have yet to see in action. 

    I give them a B+ because they have allowed some big plays and taken some bad penalties already. They also have only gotten one official sack. They are getting good pressure on the quarterback and clogging lanes most of the time, though, so a B+ is fitting. 

Linebackers

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    Grade: A-

    The linebackers are having a pretty great preseason. Tulloch, Levy and Durant have all been busy recording multiple tackles in each game. Bobby Carpenter has led the Lions linebackers so far, recording 11 tackles in the two games. I think he has already locked up a roster spot, especially if he keeps playing well. 

    The linebackers should be a much improved group this season and so far they aren't disappointing. They still need to cut down on missed tackles and fill the gaps better to prevent big plays though. There is always room for improvement—that's why I gave them an A-.

Defensive Backs

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    Grade: B-

    The secondary has not really given up any big plays in the passing game and have only allowed one touchdown by receivers. In addition, they have created multiple turnovers and kept receivers' average YPC and YAC low. 

    They did, however, allow tight end Evan Moore to score two touchdowns—one that was partially Louis Delmas' fault and the other was just a great catch. Also, that one touchdown by the wide receiver...yeah, he was wide open.

    All in all, they have not been perfect. A B- is a fair assessment for the secondary's preseason performance, I believe. We all knew this would be a weakness for the Lions, now let's see them improve and prove us wrong.


Special Teams

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    Grade: A

    Stefan Logan still looks electric as ever. He has only had a few opportunities to touch the ball but man is that little guy good. The new rule pushing up kickoffs by five yards should hurt him a little, but I still see him having a great season.

    Hanson has also come back and kicked well. He and Rayner are both perfect this preseason on field goals and extra points. They both hit long ones as Hanson hit a 48-yarder and Rayner a 49-yarder. 

    Even the punters have looked good, pinning the Browns inside the 20 three times after kicking the ball out of the end zone twice against the Bengals. 

    For kick and punt returns, they have given up a long of 32 and 20 respectively. Those numbers aren't great and can definitely be improved on.

    All in all, the special teams are a huge strength for the Lions and so far all the gears have been running smoothly. They deserve an A.

Coaching

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    Grade: B

    The Lions are 2-0 so far in the preseason so the coaches should get an A right? Well, as you have read, there is still much that needs to be improved upon so I am not ready to jump on that ship quite yet.

    There were tons of bad penalties taken against the Browns and if we all know one thing, it's that penalties lose games. 

    Most of the penalties did come after the starters were out though, so they could be due to inexperience. However, the coaches have to have players ready to play and clearly they should have been a little more prepared.

    Overall, the offense, defense and special teams have been running pretty smoothly and the team is 2-0 with a home and road victory so Lions fans are still intrigued by possibilities for this season.

    The next preseason game is going to be in front of a sellout crowd at Ford Field to welcome home Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this Saturday at 8:00 EDT. Stay tuned to see how the Lions grade out for the second half of the preseason.