I know this may be a tad bit late in the fast moving sports world, so for that I apologize. Because of some extra work from my day job, and the busy back-to-school season for two small children bleeding into my free time, I have yet to be able to get my thoughts out there about the Detroit Lions’ Thursday night decimation of the New England Patriots.
Wishy, Washy Fans
The reaction following the game was much more muted than many fans had two years ago when the Lions also destroyed Tom Brady and the Pats. The second preseason game in Cleveland was an utter debacle, there is no debating that, yet what I saw was that most fans who said “same old Lions” for a preseason game last week were the ones laughing off this win over New England.
In other words, the haters are having it both ways. You can’t kill the Lions for playing terrible one week and dismiss a solid performance the next. Conversely, the Honolulu Blue-colored glasses crowd can’t give them a pass for the Browns and plan their Super Bowl trip for the win over the Patriots. Let’s save the blind passion and/or utter hate for Week 1, shall we?
Matthew Stafford continued to look rusty on the field. I am a Stafford supporter, and believe he’s better than he’s shown, however that can change quite quickly if he continues to look bad in the regular season. It has not helped Stafford that the second and third wide receivers have been awful and Brandon Pettigrew is still Brandon Pettigrew. A true gauge of his abilities would have been to see Calvin Johnson more than one series this preseason.
Some think the Lions rely too heavily on CJ, and that the offense will be awful if teams bottle him up, but they seem to be missing that even when double and triple teamed, Calvin can make the catch. Even if he can’t, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards, and others should benefit from having one-on-one coverage. Right now with CJ not playing, teams are able to evenly disburse their secondary. With CJ in there, they won’t have that luxury.
With all that said, it is concerning that Johnson will likely not play in a game until Week 1 (assuming most of the starters are out Thursday in Buffalo). We know the knee injury is probably not very severe (or even exists) and I understand keeping the franchise player healthy and not risk him in practice games, however the timing with Stafford is not a given. It’s a little concerning that we’ll head into Week 1 with the Stafford to Johnson connection rusty.
I loved what the defensive line was able to do on Thursday. I just hope they will keep that aggressive mindset going into the regular season. It often seems that Gunther Cunningham dials back the aggression once real football starts, and that can’t happen for this team to be successful.
Personal Foul Hell
Finally, personal fouls continue to be a problem for the Lions. Most people blame Jim Schwartz for the lack of discipline the team has. I understand that, but never really thought Schwartz should take more of the blame than the players committing the bonehead plays. That said, I was not happy to see Schwartz tap C.J. Mosley on the helmet when he came off the field after committing a late hit following another New England turnover. This cannot continue, and Schwartz should know better than lauding a guy who was part of a turnover, but pushed the offense further back because of a stupid play.
So there was plenty to be happy about, plenty to worry about, and plenty still unknown about the 2013 Detroit Lions–which is typical of any team during the preseason.