The Detroit Lions beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night, squeaking out a close 13-12 win that featured some extended time by the starters.
Considering the numbers, 368 total yards, 190 passing, three turnovers (key ones from Matthew Stafford and Ryan Broyles) and 4-11 on third down conversions, there was no reason to be excited about the offense’s performance.
This is still the preseason, though. A time when fans are so desperate to see live football, they look for reasons to get too high or too low on their teams performances. With this team and Jim Caldwell, their new leader, everyone should start avoiding that temptation quick.
Most of the time, the preseason is an interesting game of show and tell. Teams show nothing, but fans still think that tells them everything. Historically, such has been true under Caldwell, who coached the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-2011.
Over that span, Caldwell’s Colt offense, quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, routinely performed worse in the preseason. Part of the reasoning behind this is the fact that their offense chose to show little of its wrinkle early to prevent teams from game-planning against them in the regular season, and also wanted to prevent injuries to key players.
The numbers suggest this. From 2009-2011, Caldwell and the Colts went 2-11 in the preseason. During that span, the team’s offense didn’t click on all cylinders early because Manning barely played and the team refused to use a regular game plan. Here’s a sampling of the team’s losses: 13-3, 18-17, 38-7, 37-17, 34-21, 59-24. Those teams still established regular season and playoff success.
There’s no reason to throw the Lions’ offense onto the scrap heap after one average performance. Reggie Bush looked good, and despite the fumble, so did Broyles and Golden Tate as well as Eric Ebron. The week before against Oakland, the starters had also excelled. So far, the results have been as good as could be expected for the preseason.
Next week, the starting offense won’t see much time in the preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills. It’s clear that there have been improvements in enough spots to maintain an optimistic approach, even with Friday’s performance and next week’s expected lack of activity.
Don’t push the panic button, at least until the regular season starts. There’s likely plenty more that the Lions have to show that hasn’t yet been seen.