It’s the preseason, right? We can’t be expected to get too worked up one way or the other, can we?
It’s only a drill, isn’t it?
Don’t look now, but the Detroit Lions look like serious playoff contenders. There, I’ve said it, and it seems oddly appropriate.
The Lions are only three-years removed from the most futile season in NFL history—a season where the Lions went unbeaten in the preseason, only to crash and burn during the regular season.
The Lions defense will lead the way to the promised land in 2011. The defensive line is manhandling quarterbacks at a record pace and sending a clear message to the league: “Your house is our house.”
DT Ndamukong Suh put it this way in an interview with CBS’ Leslie Visser: “Last year, we were on a mission to gain respect. We accomplished that. This year, we’re on a mission to gain fear.” Ask Patriots QB Tom Brady, who was sacked twice, pressured five times and hit five times in the first half of the Lions (3-0) 34-10 thumping of New England, who fell to 2-1.
The Lions, who stayed in their base defense throughout the game, unveiled the rotation along the D-line that will keep players fresh and hungry late into the fourth quarter. Yep, that Lions front four runs three deep in talent that will only get better when rookie Nick Fairley returns to action.
When Fairley was given his playbook, it contained a single page with only two words. The first word was "Kick."
The Lions back seven has a whole new and dangerous look. With no real need to blitz, linebackers merely need to support the run and take their coverage assignments—a far cry from years past. The addition of CB Eric Wright has stabilized the perimeter, and the safety corps has solid depth with the much improved play of second-year player Amari Spievey.
The offense has matured into a machine that can score from anywhere. No running backs? No problem. In the pass-happy NFC North, the Lions are stacked with dangerous weapons at QB Matt Stafford’s disposal.
Receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, along with tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, are joined by rookie Titus Young and free agent Maurice Stovall as the primary weapons in the passing game. CBS color analyst Dan Dierdorf said it best: “Anyone that doesn’t consider Calvin Johnson a top wide receiver is just plain batty.” He’s talking about ESPN’s Cris Carter, who said that teams need not double cover Johnson. Huh?
In the words of Cris Carter: “C’mon, man?”
Stafford took a couple of good hits in the Patriots game and bounced back nicely. He’s having arguably the best preseason of any NFL trigger man.
That Lions running game is more of a distraction than a concern in Detroit’s aerial circus, where the running backs take on a prominent role.
Now hear this, NFL: The Lions are attacking. This is not a drill.
Mike Sudds is a syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.