Friday night gave us our first in-game look at the 2013 Detroit Lions. It's only one preseason game, but there were several notable performances from the Lions' 26-17 victory over the New York Jets. Let's review them by taking a look at who belongs in the winners category and who belongs in the losers category based on Friday night's game.
QB Shaun Hill - Hill once again showed why he is considered one of the top backup quarterbacks in all of the NFL. He was able to move the ball, and he completed 11 of his 18 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. (That TD, by the way, was the only trip to the end zone on offense for the Lions.)
WR Matt Willis - The man who caught Hill's touchdown pass was Willis, who finished with 3 catches for 51 yards. Willis made two outstanding catches on the Lions' TD drive, including the one he had in the end zone for a score. Between his performance on offense and his ability to contribute on special teams, Willis may be putting himself in position to make the 53-man roster.
WR Calvin Johnson - Megatron barely played, but he still managed to lead the Lions in receiving with 3 catches for 58 yards. Needless to say, he was his usual dominant self.
DE Ziggy Ansah - Ansah was responsible for the most memorable play of the night when he intercepted Mark Sanchez and scored a touchdown. He also had 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and in general he looked like he belonged. It was an excellent NFL debut for Ansah.
Backup defensive ends - Ansah wasn't the only defensive end who had a good night for the Lions. Willie Young, Ronnell Lewis and Devin Taylor all made a lot of plays as well. Young, for example, finished with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and 2 passes defended. Lewis, meanwhile, recorded 2 tackles, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery. That fumble, by the way, was forced by Taylor, who finished with 1 tackle and 1 sack.
Kickers - David Akers showed that his accuracy issues may be behind him by making a pair of field goals, and Havard Rugland showed he has the ability to be an NFL kicker by making two long attempts of his own. On the night, the Lions went 4-for-4 on field goals.
P Sam Martin - Martin had one bad punt, but he still averaged 43.7 yards and had a long of 54. What's more, he displayed solid hang time and an ability to pin the opponent inside its own 20. He also handled kickoffs in the first half and had a few touchbacks.
Overall health of the team - The Lions got through Friday's game without any real notable injuries. I'm sure some guys are banged up, but as far as we know, no significant injuries occurred for the Lions. That's probably the best news of all from Friday's game.
QB Matthew Stafford - It might be a bit of a stretch to put Stafford in the losers category, but he only went 3-for-8 on Friday. Granted, those 3 passes went for 58 yards, but all of them were caught by Megatron. When Stafford was throwing to other targets, his accuracy wasn't great, and his desire to unnecessarily throw off his back foot continued to be frustrating. I'm not overly concerned about his performance, and this is a pretty small sample size, but I'd like to see a sharper outing next week in Cleveland.
QB Kellen Moore - I didn't like the Lions' decision to keep Moore on their 53-man roster last year, and I'm going to hate it just as much this year if he once again makes the team. His numbers weren't terrible on Friday -- he went 8-for-13 for 60 yards -- but he just doesn't look like an NFL quarterback. Let's put it this way: If the Lions ever have to play Moore in a regular-season game, they probably won't win. I just don't think he's deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster, and Friday only reaffirmed that view.
QB Thaddeus Lewis - Just like R.J. Archer a year ago, Lewis is in the losers category simply because he barely even got to play on Friday. He didn't enter the game until the end of the fourth quarter, and he didn't get to attempt a single pass. That doesn't bode well for his chances of even having a shot at overtaking Moore for the third quarterback spot.
Run game - Aside from a Reggie Bush hurdle, there wasn't much to like about the Lions' run game. They had only 81 yards on 27 carries (3.0 average), and if you factor out quarterback scrambles and an end-around, the Lions' running backs rushed for only 53 yards on 19 carries (2.8 average). That's not encouraging, and the offensive line didn't seem to be opening up a whole lot of holes. The backup offensive linemen especially seemed to have a tough time creating room for the running backs.
Pass defense - Jets quarterbacks combined to go 27-for-39 for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. A lot of those yards came against the Lions' backups, but it was concerning that the Jets were able to move the ball down the field so easily on a couple drives in this game. The pass defense needs to be better, and Bill Bentley and some others really need to work on their tackling.
Linebackers - Speaking of needing to be better in pass defense, the linebackers didn't exactly have a very good game. Ashlee Palmer seemed to solidify his case to be the starting left outside linebacker, but that was in part because Travis Lewis and Tahir Whitehead just didn't look all that impressive. Lewis especially struggled, and overall the Lions' linebackers were far from a strength in this game.