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Monday Notes: Falcons Game Observations

  • Off the top of my head, Ernie Sims, Paris Lenon, and Dan Campbell left yesterday's game with injuries.  Sims was actually carted off the field with an ankle injury right before halftime and was listed as questionable to return.  He was really the only defensive player that wasn't having problems making tackles, so his loss definitely hurt.

    Lenon hurt his knee and had it heavily wrapped on the bench and Campbell went out after re-injuring his hamstring.  Campbell has been limited due to the hamstring injury and hurt it again after only one catch.  I think Michael Gaines may have also been hurt, but I have not heard any details about what happened to him.

    We should have an update on all of the injuries from the Atlanta game later today.
  • Jon Kitna was very, very frustrated in the first half of yesterday's game.  He not only was yelling at teammates but actually started to get in the face of a couple offensive coaches.  On two separate occasions he called a timeout and quickly went over to the sideline and started yelling at a coach.  The first time it was passing coordinator Kippy Brown that felt Kitna's wrath, and the second time it was running backs coach Sam Gash.

    Kitna did calm down once the Lions started to score some points, but it was pretty discouraging to see him that angry.  I like that he was showing passion, but there's a fine line between being fiery and being out of line.  I tend to think the latter was where Kitna was as he really had no right to get in the faces of his coaches like that.
  • Calvin Johnson is this team's new #1 receiver as far as I'm concerned.  He caught 7 passes for 107 yards and was clearly Kitna's go-to guy.  Roy Williams hauled in 3 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown and made a couple nice plays, but Johnson is the Lions' premier receiver now.
  • Jon Kitna shouldn't be blamed for the interception he threw at the start of the second half as it apparently was Roy Williams' fault.  Roy ran the wrong route and left Lawyer Milloy by himself to make the diving interception.
  • Despite their improvements during the preseason, the defense was absolutely pathetic.  I don't know if I've ever seen a game with more missed tackles.  That was a big reason why the Falcons ended up with 318 rushing yards.  Michael Turner set a single-game franchise record for rushing yards with 220 of his own.  He also scored a pair of touchdowns and would have had three had it not been for a holding penalty.  Even their backup, Jerious Norwood, ran for 93 yards and a touchdown.
  • The passing defense wasn't any better.  Matt Ryan went 9/13 for 161 yards and 1 touchdown.  That touchdown came on his first NFL pass as he hit Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard score.  Travis Fisher looked terrible on multiple occasions and Leigh Bodden didn't look much better at times. 

    To make matters worse, the dominant defensive line we saw in the preseason was rarely dominant in yesterday's game.  The Lions only had a single sack and never got much pressure on Matt Ryan, resulting in his nearly 70% completion rating.
  • Detroit did seem to get closer to becoming a balanced team offensively.  They ran the ball 21 times and had 33 passing attempts.  Keep in mind, if the Lions weren't playing from behind during the entire game the amount of passing attempts would have been lower.  Since they were trailing, though, they had to air it out more to give themselves a chance to win.
  • Kevin Smith only rushed for 48 yards on 16 carries in his NFL debut, but he didn't look bad by any means.  There were more than a few plays where the offensive line was blown up and Smith had literally nowhere to run.  Once or twice he was able to actually gain yards despite the terrible blocking, and on plays when there was a hole open he made a play.  Plus, he did score a touchdown, which is great for any rookie in their first game.
  • Rudi Johnson only had 3 carries for 14 yards in this game.  It's not surprising he didn't get more carries as he still is learning the playbook.  The announcers said he barely knew any blocking assignments for passing plays, which is probably why he went in motion to the outside on the passing plays he was in the game for.
  • As mentioned when discussing Kevin Smith, the offensive line did not play well.  Smith was tackled right when he got the handoff a few times, and Kitna's protection wasn't that great, either.
  • The Lions' inactives against Atlanta were as follows: QB Drew Stanton, OG Manny Ramirez, DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, DT Andre Fluellen, DT Landon Cohen, LB Gilbert Gardner, and CB Ramzee Robinson.  Alama-Francis was bumped to the inactive list by DE Cliff Avril.
  • Even though there are still two games tonight that will affect the opening week of fantasy football, I am in good enough shape to start bragging about how sweet of an owner I am.  In all three of my leagues I am not only ahead but am destroying my opponents.  In the official POD League I am currently up on Maize 'n' Blue Jays 109.70-77.16.  In the POD Overflow League I control a lead of 117.88-57.40.  And finally, in the league that involves bloggers from both SB Nation and the AOL FanHouse, I am up 97.00-37.90.

    I wasn't expecting to have all three of my teams turn out to be this good already, but I'm pleasantly surprised.  Even my poorly drafted team in the official league put up 100+ points, although the big reason for that was that I had Michael Turner starting.  We all got an up close look at how great of a game he had.
  • As far as fantasy football goes, I plan on posting an update on the official league every Tuesday.  The update will include scores from each game and a quick recap of how each team did.  I will also keep you guys updated on how I do in the overflow league as well as the SBN-AOL one.
  • Regarding my general posting schedule for the week that I will follow throughout the season, on top of the fantasy football update, I will also do a week whatever recap every Tuesday.  I haven't decided on the exact format just yet, but I will try to briefly provide a recap of each game and/or will direct you to other SBN blogs for more information.

    In general, what I expect my posting schedule or routine to look like is this: On Sunday nights/Mondays, I will recap the Lions game and discuss general things from it.  On Tuesday, I will update fantasy football and the NFL.  Moving on to Wednesday, I will wrap up coverage on the Lions' last game and begin to look ahead to their next one.  Then Thursday will be spent really looking at the Lions' next opponent, and Friday and Saturday will get you ready for Sunday.  I'll still have notes every day and keep you updated on any Lions news, but that will be in addition to what I listed above.
  • Ex-Lions tight end Sean McHugh was signed by the Steelers.
  • Chad Johnson, err, Chad Ocho Cinco, wasn't allowed to wear his new last name on his jersey this week due to a dispute with Reebok over unsold merchandise.  I'm sure Ocho Cinco will have no problem buying his old unsold jerseys considering his new one will have little trouble selling.
  • The Jets were left in a predicament against Miami after kicker Mike Nugent got hurt in the first quarter of yesterday's game.  Backup QB Kellen Clemens and safety Kerry Rhodes were actually attempting kickoffs before the second half in warm-ups.  Thankfully for the Jets' sake neither was needed as Nugent returned in the third quarter.