The Detroit Lions have experienced great success in terms of winning preseason games in recent years but their quest for another NFL Preseason Championship hit a snag in game number one last night.
Cleveland Browns 19, Detroit Lions 17 (box score)
I would caution anyone not to take too much away, good or bad, from any preseason game but there were a few things that stuck out to me.
- The most effective part of the Lions offense all night was their running game. Kevin Smith didn’t exactly look explosive out of the gate but he was effective. Keiland Williams was able to find success that he didn’t have last year and Joique Bell kept it going when he saw extended playing time in the second half. In total, the Lions churned out 198 yards on a 6.0 yard per carry average. The backs finally had some room to run and they were decisive in making the read and taking what was there. Good job by all involved.
- Bill Bentley was able to put on display the flashes of very good play that put him in position to start last night’s game but he also looked like a rookie at times, particularly in getting beat on a long first quarter pass. Jim Schwartz called it a 50/50 performance and therefore not good enough in his post game comments but it is clear that the Lions may have found something in their third round pick.
- After one game it looks like the punter battle will come down to who loses the battle rather than who wins it. Neither Ryan Donahue or Ben Graham punted very well at all. With a potent offense, let’s hope the Lions simply don’t need to punt much in 2012.
- It’s no secret that the Lions have made building their defensive line the hallmark of their strategy but last night showed just how legit the unit is. Regular starters Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch did not start yet the replacements of Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young, particularly Young, did more than fit in up against the Browns’ starters. It didn’t stop there. Everette Brown made an impact with 1.5 sacks when he got his chance. Needless to say, things are looking good at defensive end.
- I was really looking forward to seeing what Kellen Moore could do last night but came away disappointed. I didn’t have any particular expectations, especially after seeing him struggle in training camp practice last weekend, but it would have been nice to him show something that suggested he would be worth investing some effort into his development. All the knocks on Moore coming out of Boise State were on display and he couldn’t make up for it with the kind of accuracy he showed in college.