These aren’t your 2012 Detroit Lions
Well, there are some things to get excited about after this first preseason game. Ziggy Ansah, for one. The Detroit Lions took advantage of New York Jets mistakes, something they showed a complete lack of ability to do against any team last season, so that is a start. The New York Jets made plenty of mistakes on their own, as did Detroit, but the biggest play was the result of a great defensive effort by Lions DT C.J. Mosely. The play had the makings of a fullback screen and had the big defensive tackle not dropped Tommy Bohannon on his release, the play might have turned out differently. Yes, the pass from Sanchez was a piece of flying dog-doo, and the quarterback does have to watch what is happening right in front of him, so the Jets bear some responsibility for this. But, we can also announce that the Lions are into manufacturing turnovers this season, again, something they did not seem interested in last year.
Sam Martin has almost single-handedly turned the Lions’ punting game into something tactically relevant, and again, that was a feature missing from last season. And, the Detroit Lions have two excellent kickers to choose from, with rookie Havard Rugland matching veteran David Akers kick for kick on the field goal front. Rugland did not get the chance to kick a PAT; Akers managed two. Jason Hanson can relax; the team probably won’t come begging for a return engagement. Special teams really did look special, considering their performances last year.
The Lions’ first team offense needs to produce in the early stages of a game, lest the late quarter dramatics from last season reappear to the dismay of Lions’ fans. Their issues did not stem from the fact that the Jets placed a superior defense on the field; rather the problems were of their own making: missed blocks, missed passes, and the usual first week stuff. The first team offensive line seemed to do a good job of keeping everyone off Matthew Stafford, and speaking of quarterbacks it seems that in an emergency, the Lions are in good hands with Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore showing good accuracy and skill. And one of the non-CJ targets got some heads to turn with a few quality plays. Seven year veteran Matt Willis caught three balls for 51 yards and a TD, showing mid-season speed and body control on a couple of the catches. He will bear watching in future games.
Of the position battles that are going on, nothing in this game seemed to settle those down. They can be expected to continue, and some, like the right tackle bout will probably go right up to the wire. As to penalties and such, the Lions are once again displaying that little bit of undisciplined behavior, with some completely foolish penalties cropping up during the game.
What the Lions looked like in this first game of the preseason is a team, that for however rough they played in this initial contest, appears as if it is going to have to leave a lot of talent by the side of the road as cuts are made on the way to the regular season. Oh yes, Lions fans. They also looked like the only NFC North team to come away from their game with a win and no serious injuries. Not bad for a team expected to be the Black and Blue’s cellar dweller. Now, if they can only keep climbing the stairs during the preseason. They know that their Week 1 toss against the Vikings will be the beginning of the real test that will be at least 16 weeks long.