This is what August is all about. Am I right? Oh sure, there are still beaches to visit, and golf courses to hit. But with the winding down of summer comes the invariable excitement of football.
It may not have been “real” football, but it was football nonetheless.
As the Detroit Lions walked off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday I couldn’t help but be excited. Because what August is really for is hope. The preseason gives us all a chance to finally see live in color what the offseason has been preparing us for.
For the team, it’s far more about preparation than perfection. For the fans, it’s a time to truly suck down the Kool-Aid. There’s nothing but hope in the preseason. Unless a key player goes down with an injury (more on that in a moment) every fan should watch these games sense of excitement. That’s what I did Sunday.
And even though it’s only been one game, here are 10 things I think I know after week one of the preseason:
1) I think losing Kerry Hyder to a season ending injury hurts the Lions in a variety of ways. You never want to see a player get injured, especially in the preseason, and when Hyder went down early in game, it didn’t look good from the start.
The Lions are already missing star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah due to injury and Hyder’s injury leaves them extremely thin at defensive end. Bob Quinn has been confident in the in-house options up to this point, but this injury could force him to look for solutions outside Allen Park.
2) I think the Lions need to learn how to hold on to the ball! The Lions had the fifth most drops in the NFL last season, and if Sunday was any indication that trend may continue this season as well.
Marvin Jones let a very catchable pass get through his hands that resulted in an interception. He needs to do better. Rookie tight end Michael Roberts also had a few fumbles, although one was called back due to an early whistle.
The good news is that the preseason is built around correcting these types of errors.
3) I think Greg Robinson played pretty well. After Taylor Decker went down with an injury early in OTAs, left tackle became the biggest question mark on the team. Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio were expected to battle for that spot throughout training camp, but injuries have held Kouandjio back.
This game was a chance for Robinson to showcase his skills. I suggest you all check out Jeremy Reisman’s masterful film breakdown of Greg Robinson for an inside look into Robinson’s 25 pass snaps.
Here’s my gut reaction with Robinson: For every 20 plays that you never notice him, he’ll have two or three that have you screaming at the television to get him off the field.
For the Lions’ sake, I hope Taylor Decker is a quick healer.
4) I think I’m very excited to watch Ameer Abdullah play football again. While he was in for only a few snaps on Sunday, it was nice to see his agility and quickness still at play.
Last season before he got hurt I predicted he’d get 1,000 rushing yards. Assuming he stays healthy for 16 games, my prediction stands.
5) I think A’Shawn Robinson is a bad, bad man, and the Lions are going to need him to be after Hyder’s injury.
Robinson made the most of his 17 snaps on Sunday, forcing two quarterback pressures and two batted passes. Robinson showed ability last season as solid run blocker, but his pass rush skills were unrefined. If rushing the passer becomes a consistent element of his game, watch out.
6) I think Kenny Golladay is just what the doctor ordered for the Lions offense. The two touchdowns were great, but how he got them might be even more impressive.
Last season the Lions didn’t have any receivers that could consistently box out a defender and win. As good as Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. are, that’s not their game.
Golladay has played well throughout training camp and it was nice to seem him translate it to game action. He could be a vital weapon in the redzone early in the season and gain more playing time as the season goes on.
7) I think the Lions linebackers will be much improved. All three starters, Tahir Whitehead, Jarrad Davis, and Antwione Williams looked sharp.
Williams flashed his speed several times and looks more comfortable in his second season. Davis looks like a vet out there moving the defense around. And Whitehead was steady in his move to weakside linebacker. No one could stay healthy on this unit a year ago, but if all three can remain relatively healthy the Lions should be in good shape.
8) I think Bob Quinn has done a solid job developing the roster over the last two years. The Lions will have several first and second year players making quality contributions this season.
My one gripe has been the lack of effort to bolster the defense end position, and this one didn’t get any better on Sunday. I can guarantee he and his team will have a short list of guys they go after when teams make their final cuts.
9) I think Rod Wood knows his lane, and stays in it very well. Lions fans know all too well what happens when financial gurus try to meddle in football operations—paging Tom Lewand.
Many feared upon Wood’s hiring that it was more of the same. Thankfully for the Lions, and for fans, it hasn’t been anything close.
If you haven’t seen any of the $100 million updates to Ford Field, you’re missing out. Wood and the Lions have done a great job of investing in the fan experience.
10) I think Matthew Stafford is clearly worth whatever the Lions want to pay him. The market is what the market is. Some fans don’t like. They think $25-$30 million per year is too much for one player. And if it wasn’t a quarterback, I would probably agree.
But the NFL is now becoming a league of the haves and the have-nots. Your team either has a quarterback or it doesn’t.
The Lions went many, many years without anything close to a franchise quarterback. So when one finally shows up, you don’t let him go—regardless of how much it costs.