Remember, it’s just preseason.
I said it last week when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns, and it holds true in the wake of a huge win over the New England Patriots. Preseason is preseason, and there are almost no long-term conclusions to draw.
That said, if this one wasn’t at least a little bit fun for you, you’re not a Lions fan. Let’s get to the takeaways from this game, starting with, you know, the takeaways.
- One of the hallmarks of the Lions’ 2011 defense is that they forced a bunch of turnovers. The Lions had 21 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles during the 2011 season. In the first half against the Patriots, the Lions had an interception and three forced fumbles against the Patriots’ first-string offense. Tom Brady had an efficient day, but the turnovers negated anything the Patriots got going before it turned into points. Easily the best day for the Lions defense so far.
- For the first time since training camp opens, I’m starting to believe Joique Bell is a better running back option than Mikel Leshoure. None of the things Leshoure was supposed to bring out of the University of Illinois have materialized to this point. It’s hard to say whether it’s the Achilles injury or just that he was overrated in the first place coming out of college, but Joique Bell was excellent today, averaging over 10 yards per carry from scrimmage, and tacked on another 38 on a short dump-off screen pass. He seems to break about three tackles on every run.
- It would appear Jason Jones will be able to pass rush from the defensive end position. He was the only player to bring down Tom Brady, and he did it twice. It was a concern whether the converted defensive tackle would be a good fit in the Lions’ scheme, which privileges quickness and straight-line speed in defensive ends. If this game is any indication, he’ll be just fine.
- Matthew Stafford threw a touchdown pass, but it was another shaky day for him. He completed less than half of his passes, and about a third of his yardage came on a single 67-yard pass to Reggie Bush. Stafford has all the physical tools and weapons to have a huge season, but it’s a little discouraging that he’s played so inefficiently thus far in the preseason.
- Joseph Fauria took a big step forward in his quest for a roster spot. He caught three passes for 44 yards, including a nice 22-yard touchdown over the middle. In addition, his primary competition, seventh-round draft pick Michael Williams, left the game early with something jammed on his hand. If the injury turns out to be long-term, Fauria has a better chance to make the roster now than he ever has.
- On a related note, Kellen Moore had perhaps his best game since joining the ranks of the NFL. He finished 9-for-12 with 150 yards, two touchdowns, and a notable lack of bad decisions. His arm strength looks better, he was making good decisions, and delivering the ball in tight spaces with good timing. He may have just earned himself a spot on the team for another season.
- It’s too bad because the story is so great, but chances are, Havard Rugland is not going to be the Lions’ kicker this season. David Akers played well into the third quarter, and Rugland didn’t get a chance to kick a field goal. Akers, meanwhile, locked things up by going 3-for-4 on field goals, including a 47- and 49-yarder. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rugland cut before the fourth preseason game, so he has a shot to catch on with another team. He’s an NFL-quality kicker, Akers just looks like the safer choice right now.