After rewatching the first half of last week’s game, I noticed a very interesting lineup. The Lions, on an obvious passing situation, trotted out Anthony Zettel and Kerry Hyder as interior D-linemen, and it worked.
Patricia went with that same lineup on 3rd-and-long situations and we saw the same results, with Hyder notching another couple of pressures and Zettel earning a sack that was nullified after a hold on Tavon Wilson extended the drive.
The pass rush wasn’t entirely consistent, but it was much better tonight than it has been to date, especially from the first-team defense.
Valles is becoming the most reliable TE the Lions have in the passing game with him hauling in three catches for 38 yards against the Bucs on Friday, while Michael Roberts was out there for the 109-yard return TD showing absolutely no effort to make a tackle. I think Valles is a near-lock at this point.
Also, keep an eye out for Luke Willson’s status, who suffered a knee injury during the game and never returned.
Ricky Jean Francois
I was going to throw him in there with the pass rush, but I think RJF deserves his own spot for being arguably the best player on the field for the Lions on Friday night.
With six tackles, Jean Francois led all Lions not named Nevin Lawson with 6 tackles, making some key stops against the run and notching at least one pressure.
If there is any positive to take from this game, it’s the running backs and the dudes up front blocking for them. Four of the Lions’ five running backs averaged 4.1 yards per carry or higher with the O-line opening up real, actual lanes and getting some serious push up front.
Have to imagine he’s your backup QB after the performance he put on while playing with a mix of starters and second stringers. Rudock did lead the Lions to a win on the final drive of the game, but I think the edge goes to Cassel here.
I still don’t see Powell making the team with Tate and TJ Jones likely ahead of him and no real reason for the Lions to keep a slot guy as their fifth receiver, but he left some good tape out there for the Lions or any other team looking for a shifty, special teams ace. Powell should easily make the practice squad and his best chance to make the final roster is if TJ Jones’ spot isn’t as safe as we think.
Red zone offense
The offense had absolutely no problem moving the ball on the Bucs early, but the dreaded red zone offense reared its ugly head as we’ve seen in years past, and despite getting all the way inside the 10-yard line on two consecutive drives, the offense walked away with just six points total.
This game was reminiscent of the Patriots’ preseason game from last year. To see Davis show no improvement whatsoever is a little disconcerting for the second-year linebacker. Davis is the captain of the defense, and may be the biggest liability they have right now on that side of the ball.
People who want to watch real football
I don’t really know how to explain what happened at the end of the first half, but instead of electing to use some of his timeouts, Matt Patricia decided to let his offense run the clock to its final five seconds for a 62-yard field goal attempt.
And then this happened.
I feel pretty confident that this was not a series of decisions that Patricia would make during the regular season, but who knows? Preseason is weird.
Lawson had a bullseye on his back and was constantly abused by anyone lined up across from him. That includes getting torched in the second half against the Bucs’ reserves. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse performance in the preseason since I started writing about the Lions, and I’m pretty sure Lawson might receive the first ever negative grade from Pro Football Focus.
First team on both sides
This was a poor performance all across the board from the starters against a team they beat last year and should probably outperform. It’s only the preseason, but I think there is some real cause for concern with how the starters have looked so far.