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Panic watch: Grading anxiety levels for Detroit Lions’ 4 biggest issues after Texans game

Is it time to panic? We’ve got your anxiety guide right here.

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After every preseason game, it seems, a certain subset of Detroit Lions fans hit the panic button. Based on something they’ve seen, they’re certain this year is going to go sideways.

While history is certainly on their side, the past does not dictate the future. So each week of the preseason, I will create a handy, dandy Panic Watch guide, which aims to identify the biggest issues raised in the preseason game, and properly assess where your anxiety levels should be as a fan.

Here is your Panic Watch guide for the Lions’ preseason Game 2 against the Houston Texans.

(You can check out last week’s Panic Watch here)

The concern: The Lions can’t generate a pass rush

Why you should panic:

The Houston Texans offensive line isn’t very good, and the Detroit Lions managed a total of one sack throughout the entire night. This has been a persistent problem since Matt Patricia came into town, and it appears the Lions don’t have much in terms of reserve pass rushers.

And while most the starters were out, guys like A’Shawn Robinson and Devon Kennard were in, and didn’t do much of anything on Saturday night.

Why you shouldn’t panic:

The following players didn’t play: Mike Daniels, Da’Shawn Hand, Trey Flowers, and Damon Harrison Sr. Daniels, Flowers and Hand are probably the team’s best pass rushers, and simply having a guy like Snacks in there changes the dynamic of everything.

Additionally, the Lions are playing a very vanilla defensive scheme and probably not sending as many or as complicated blitzes as they will in the regular season. Also, Romeo Okwara—one of the few reserves we know will have a role this year—had a heck of a game.

Overall panic level: 4/10

My overall concern here is only schematic related. I’m starting to wonder if Detroit’s overall strategy of contain over pressure is really best for this defense. It didn’t work to well last year, and the secondary didn’t look to great under that strategy in the first quarter on Saturday.

That being said, with Daniels, Flowers and Snacks in the lineup, we could see a much more aggressive defense. The only reason I’m not including Hand here, is because it doesn’t seem certain he’ll be ready to go by Week 1.

Still, there should be at least a little concern given this team’s history.

The concern: The Lions didn’t play well until the first-string Texans were off the field

Why you should panic:

The Lions gave up a touchdown on their first defensive series and went three-and-out on their first offensive series. Outside of a turnover, it doesn’t get much worse than that. And this is the second straight week the Lions have struggled out of the gate. Considering that’s when teams are playing their best players, it can’t be a great sign that Detroit is struggling against players most likely to actually see the field on Sundays.

Why you shouldn’t panic:

Offensively, I think it’s fair to just throw everything out the window. This offense is going to look a lot different with Matthew Stafford behind center, and the Lions’ best offensive weapons—Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola—haven’t even taken a snap yet. Kerryon Johnson looked fine in his limited action, and the starting offensive line is playing fine.

Defensively, Detroit is missing some of their best players, and they seemed to settle down just fine after Deshaun Watson was out of the game.

Overall panic level: 5/10

Since this is the second week in a row, there should be growing concern. However, given how much the Lions’ backup quarterbacks are struggling, it’s hard to take any results seriously. When the backup quarterback struggles, it obviously affects the offense, but it affects the defense, too.

With the quick three-and-outs on offense, the Lions defense has to come out with little rest and has typically had to deal with shortened fields. It throws off the entire tempo of the game.

Still, you’d like to see a little more chemistry and results at the top of games. If the Lions can’t do it in Game 3 of the preseason, then the panic level will jump.

The concern: Deshaun Watson picked the Lions’ secondary apart

Why you should panic:

The Lions pretty much had all of their defensive back starters in for the first quarter of Saturday’s game, and Watson dissected the secondary in his one and only drive.

The concerns around nickel cornerback Justin Coleman continue to grow, and considering the Lions’ struggles in the secondary were glaring last year, this could be a sign that Detroit is in for more trouble.

It wasn’t a particularly great day from the safeties, either, as Detroit had problems covering tight ends—a issue that has persisted with this franchise for some time.

Why you shouldn’t panic:

Darius Slay still looks like Darius Slay. Rashaan Melvin has looked comfortable at the other outside corner position. And much of the reason the Lions struggled in coverage on Saturday has to do with the aforementioned lack of pass rush.

The Texans’ first touchdown is the perfect example of the secondary not being the main problem. The Lions were in tight coverage the entire play, but it’s impossible to expect Melvin to cover one of the best receivers (DeAndre Hopkins) in the entire league for five or six seconds.

Overall panic level: 6/10

My concern level is pretty high for the Lions’ nickel corner position at this point, as Coleman’s issues have now persisted for several weeks. Elsewhere, there’s not much concern at all.

The concern: The Lions’ backup QB job is still shaky

Why you should panic:

When the Lions signed Josh Johnson last week, the assumption was that he’d immediately come in and take over the backup quarterback position. Instead, the Lions offense looked no different than last week’s serious struggles with Johnson behind center

With Tom Savage’s ongoing concussion problem, there’s is no clear backup to Matthew Stafford right now, and with the regular season less than three weeks away, that’s an issue.

Why you shouldn’t panic:

To expect Johnson to come in right away and immediately play at a competent backup level is just asking too much. Johnson had a pretty good week of practice in the lead up to the game, so the game performance alone may not be the best thing to judge him by.

Additionally, while Johnson looked poor, David Fales looked like a completely different quarterback. He provided the team with a spark we hadn’t seen in the preseason yet, and jumped right back into the backup competition.

Overall panic level: 6/10

I’m not buying the Fales resurrection quite yet. I saw too much troubling play this training camp to believe he’s suddenly turned a corner.

And if he’s the David Fales I think he is, then we could be heading into the regular season with Josh Johnson as the primary backup. That shouldn’t make anyone feel great considering he’ll have less than a month experience with the team, and his performance Saturday certainly didn’t inspire much faith either.

Of course, if Savage returns to practice soon, you can drop this panic level to a 1 or 2.