There has been a lot to like about the way the Lions have played through the first two preseason games. Matthew Stafford is starting to look like a franchise quarterback. The Lions are filling the opposing defensive secondary with capable receivers. Jahvid Best has already distanced himself from Kevin Smith and has fans buzzing about his speed and running ability. The beefed up defensive line is playing even better than anyone could have hoped.
Unfortunately, there has also been a lot to not like. The secondary was a known weakness entering training camp and all they have done is solidified that reputation. The situation has gotten even worse as a rash of injuries lead to a revolving door in the defensive backfield. I fear that this deficiency is too large to overcome even if the defensive line can translate their shortened preseason play into a full 60 minute game.
Astute football minds, such as Tom Kowalski, correctly note that opposing offenses can largely neutralize the Lions defensive line and expose their secondary with four and five wide receiver sets. Playing in a division against quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, and Jay Cutler creates some cause for concern. Add in games against Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Tom Brady and it appears that the Lions offense will have to score a lot of points just to stay competitive in at least nine out of the 16 games on the schedule. Three of the games that have not been mentioned are on the road; the Lions haven’t won a road game since beating the Bears on October 28, 2007.
This is the time of year when it is easy to get wrapped up in the hype surrounding a new season. There is no question that the Lions are better in 2010 than they were in 2009 but that does not necessarily mean there will be a significant spike in their regular season record. I still think five wins is a minimum to keep any sort of positive momentum building into 2011 but expecting anything more than seven wins might be asking too much too soon. I firmly believe the Lions are taking steps forward but this step might be smaller than some people expect.