The Detroit Lions played their best preseason game yet in Week 3, as they lost 24-20 against the Buffalo Bills. Majority of the first-team players were in action as well, and we got out best glimpse into how the 2019 Lions will look this year.
Here are a few takeaways from this week’s game.
Matthew Stafford is ready for the regular season
We got our first look at Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Friday, and Detroit’s long-time quarterback looked as good as anyone could have hoped. He was on fire, and played even better than his 12-for-19 for 137 yards and a touchdown stat line would indicate.
He made plays on his feet, showed creativity when put under pressure and did not throw any outright bad passes. Any rust the Lions thought their quarterback would have to shale off was seemingly non-existent, which is great for a player in need of a bounce-back year in 2019.
First look at the offense under Darrell Bevell
While new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has technically already coached two games this preseason for Detroit, this week was the first time he got to deploy his offense with a starting level quarterback.
Rumors from this offseason that Detroit would be forcing Stafford to use his feet more often this season look correct if Friday’s game is any indication. The Lions called many bootleg plays that rolled Stafford out of the pocket, and put the tight end duo of T.J. Hockenson and Jesse James to good use going down field. The offense looked aggressive and played on the front foot, which is a great change of pace from last season.
Detroit will not have an actual full game plan until the Week 1 opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but the vanilla offensive game plan they showed on Friday looked great.
Shake up at guard?
Detroit made an interesting call early in the game, when they chose to put guards Oday Aboushi and Kenny Wiggins into the game early on with the rest of the first-team offense. Wiggins looked like a backup coming in to the night, and there was reason to believe that Aboushi was not even set to make the 53-man roster. Both entering the game that early seems to lock both of their roster spots, though, and it may mean the coaching staff has more faith in them then previously thought.
The coaching staff will need them both to step up this season, too. Frank Ragnow—who was set to start at center this season—had to leave the game with an injury in the second quarter. The severity of the injury is still unknown, but if it causes him to miss regular season playing time then Detroit will need another interior offensive lineman to be ready to start in Week 1. It will most likely be Wiggins, as he replaced Graham Glasgow after he slid from guard to center Friday night. Aboushi is now likely the top backup.
What happens at linebacker?
Detroit suffered another injury to an important player on Friday night. Jarrad Davis left the game during the opening series after the back of his leg was rolled up on by a teammate, and he had to be carted into the locker room.
Just like Ragnow, the severity of the injury is unknown at the moment, but if Davis is forced to miss regular season playing time then someone else must step up to the plate. Luckily for the Lions, Jalen Reeves-Maybin has been one of the team’s defensive standouts this preseason, and he and rookie Jahlani Tavai could fill the role Davis may be leaving behind.