Another week, another preseason win for the 2008 preseason champs. The Lions went out and got themselves a 16-6 win over the New York Jets on Saturday night. It wasn’t as pretty as their win against the Colts last week, but the Lions still looked good for the most part.
I got to enjoy Saturday’s game away from home. In my someday-home of Ferndale. I had a lot to drink during the Woodward Dream Cruise, but nevertheless, I sobered up in time to see the game. And I have some thoughts. These are those thoughts.
It’s so pretty
The Lions offense got off to a rough start. Both in Indianapolis and at home against the Jets. It seemed there was a ton of rust they had to shake off. After two sputtering offensive drives, and almost another interception off of Marvin Jones’ hands, the Lions got to work.
Did the Lions just run to set up the pass?
I know it seems strange, but that’s what happened when this offense finally got to work. The Lions moved the ball down the field with an ease that hasn’t been seen since 1995. Yes, I’m overreacting. No, I will not stop doing that right now.
The thing that stood out the most on the first string’s final drive of the day was the way they incorporated the run into their offense. In 2016 the Lions used their run game in a way that said, “Look guys. We’re not completely one dimensional.” On Saturday it was more of a, “Hey, we figured out how to use this.”
The best way this worked for the Lions was when Ameer Abdullah ran around the edge for an 8-yard gain. Then the Lions went play action on the next play and Stafford hit an open Golden Tate on the right side of the field for a 16-yard gain and a first down.
Zenner got a 9-yard gain on the next play. The Lions would then follow that up with a 12-yard pass to Marvin Jones. This is how the Lions need the run game to work. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough to keep opposing defenses honest.
Defense brought it again
It seems like the play of the Lions defense has gone under the radar. It could be because they’ve had to go up against Scott Tolzien and Christian Hackenberg. It could also be because the Lions lost two important players in Week 1 and the sky fell.
By all means, this defense looks pretty good. In the past two weeks, the Lions have allowed 27 first downs. Of those 27, only five have come in the first half of the game when starters and second-team players were on the field. That’s really something.
The Lions also caused turnovers on Saturday, something they failed to do last week against the Colts. This is exactly what this defense needs to do. This is why they are winning meaningless games. It can also be why they win meaningful games.
Once again, the Lions missed out on some easy turnovers. Most notably Glover Quin just bobbling an interception in the first quarter. This also happened twice last week. It also happened a lot in 2016.
I’m not saying there’s a way to be perfect. You can’t grab all of these, but you have to start grabbing at least half of them. Turnovers are a game-changing thing. They can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss. This is why the Lions have to stop being the almost team, and start being the team that snatches these moments.
Pass rush is still rushing
I want to go back to the sky falling one more time. That’s what happened last week when the Lions lost Kerry Hyder and Brandon Copeland. We all spent the week wondering how this team could get after the quarterback and stop the run.
I even suggested the Lions sign Jared Odrick. I still think they should, by the way. But by all means, this team is capable. Even without Ansah and Hyder, they seem to be a team that can rush the passer.
Players like A’Shawn Robinson, Corn Wash, Akeem Spence and Anthony Zettel keep showing up over and over again. This is why the Lions notched three sacks and a forced fumble on Saturday. This is why the Lions have eight sacks in the last two games.
The sky isn’t totally back in place. We’ll learn a thing or two next week when the Lions play Tom Brady and the Patriots. But as of right now, the Lions have a lot to be happy about on their defensive line.
TJ Jones with a hamstring injury and will not return.— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) August 20, 2017
This is a tough break, but I’m not sure how tough of a break it was. By this, I mean that TJ Jones has been a guy that many of us have thought was fighting for a spot on this team. But as these games and camp has rolled on, it appears that he’s in the team’s plans, regardless.
On the other hand, how bad is this injury? We shall see soon, but here’s hoping Jones can go next week against the Patriots.
Jake Rudock is an okay quarterback
Look guys, this is far as I’m prepared to go when it comes to complimenting a Michigan Man. At the end of the second quarter, I was fully prepared to say that Rudock was good.
But then Jake Rudock became hell bent on throwing the ball out of the field and started to get 2012 Stafford erratic, which eventually led to him throwing an interception. If Rudock can calm down and play like he did against the Colts, he’ll be a nice backup.
What about Felicia’s boy?
Brad Kaaya just isn’t getting the time to play, and it’s rightfully so. The rookie has a long way to go to make the roster. He’s likely to hit the practice squad, at best. He’ll get his chance to get some serious playing time against Buffalo in two weeks.
As for what we have seen from Kaaya, the sample size is really small, but he looks alright. He’s playing his game out there and taking what he’s learned from Stafford and even Rudock, and applying it on the field. That’s all you can ask of him. We’ll see what he can do soon.
Just a reminder, this is just preseason
I said it last week, and I’ll say it next week, too. It’s really important to keep in mind that these are the vanilla times. And I mean vanilla. Not french vanilla or low-fat vanilla. Just vanilla.
With that in mind, it’s really hard to judge the positives or the negatives of these games, at least in relation to what the team will be able to translate into the regular season. So I urge you to do the following things.
- Temper your expectations
- Calm down
- Learn this dance