What We Learned About the Detroit Lions in Week 1

Throughout their season opening victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Lions demonstrated flashes of promise, as well as weakness. The obvious positives include the victory, as well as escaping Raymond James Stadium in relative good health. From an execution standpoint there were several welcomed surprises. As this game approached, much of the talk nationally was based on LeGarrette Blount and the assumption that the Bucs would be able to run the ball at will as they did last season against Detroit. Blount was not only a non-factor throughout the contest, he was largely non-existent. It was the Lions who demonstrated their interior running ability with the offensive line getting just enough of a push to allow Best, Morris, and Harrison to be effective. The run game was not explosive, or even as consistent as it needs to be, however it was effective enough to open up the passing game and slow down the Buccaneers pass rush. This is still an area that must get better each week as the season progresses.

There were drastic improvements in the linebacking play from last season, but more important was the overall improvement in team tackling. The Lions had one of the worst tackling defenses in the NFL last season, and often allowed short plays to explode into huge gains. It was evident throughout the game that this was an area of focus in camp, as Lion defenders made consistent open field tackles. This was not only due to the upgrades at linebacker, but also a result of the Detroit defense swarming to the ball, and exuding the type of swagger and speed that an intimidating NFL defense requires.

The Lions were not devoid of disappointments, however, with the largest being the inability to pressure Josh Freeman. The Buccaneers employed a quick drop, short passing game that did not allow the pass rush enough time to reach the quarterback. The Lions secondary was able to keep the Tampa receivers in front of them, and away from big plays, but struggled to disrupt the flow of the offense once in rhythm. Freeman was largely able to pick apart the short coverage, and move the team down the field near the end of the game. The Lions were largely playing safe coverages, ensuring that they did not give up a quick score, but this is still a concern with more efficient passing teams on the schedule.

Ultimately Lions fans can breathe a sigh of relief after a hard fought victory over a good Tampa Bay team, but they should not rest easy. There is a long season on the horizon and the NFC North is looking increasingly like a premiere division in the NFL. While this young team still has much to prove, this is a night where Lions fans can be proud once again.

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  • gatsby32

    Hmm, not sure I completely agree. Yes, the Bucs were able to move down the field and pick apart the short coverage, as you said. But, only in the 4th quarter. Up until that point, they were completely ineffective. They had, what, 4 yards of total offense going into the 2nd quarter.

    Nobody else has mentioned this – but I think the Lions were affected by the heat. And, no big surprise there. They were exhausted, recognized that, and just tried not to make a huge error to blow the game.

    The play in the end was sloppy and frustrating, and they seemed to lack the competitive fire they had in the beginning. Just look at the last play of the game – the bucs were able to keep that ball going for way too long, with a lot of detroit players standing around, looking confused. I personally think it was the heat and exhaustion.

  • quarter2midnite


    Good point, gatsby32. Really until the middle of the 3rd quarter, the LIONS were walking all up-n-down Tampa Bay’s azz. The heat did have somewhat of an affect on the Lions overall performance, but also the LIONS know they left at least 18 points on the field, and gave up maybe 10 points that they shouldn’t have. First game……good game. We’ll get better every week.

  • Mikeolsen

    I agree that the heat was a factor, but i’m only focusing on execution. The days of the Lions making excuses is over, and the Bucs were able to move the ball in the short passing game in the second quarter as well as the fourth. My point here is that when the Lions face the Packers, who have a quarterback that excels at getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid the rush, the secondary better close it up and make some plays, that’s all. If the Lions can’t do that, teams will adjust like Tampa should have, and go into the 2-minute offense to exploit it. Overall a great game though, and they showed more toughness than I’ve seen in a while by holding on for that win!

  • quarter2midnite


    I agree with you Mike, and I think those adjustments will be made in the up coming week of practice. But if Green Bay’s game against New Orleans is any indication of the kind of defense they are going to play this year, I don’t think that they’ll be much of a factor in our two match-ups this year. They looked terrible. Doesn’t it feel good to say and know that the days of the LIONS making excuses is over? LOL!!