Detroit Lions: Defensive takeaways from first preseason loss
The Detroit Lions first preseason loss to the New England Patriots provides a learning opportunity for young role players on their roster.
The Detroit Lions were beaten up in the first half against the New England Patriots in a game that is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season.
The Lions’ defense was continually picked apart by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, specifically Lions rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis.
"“It was an easy learning point for Detroit’s younger players – and veterans, too,” wrote ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Patriots’ domination was Detroit’s first-round pick, Jarrad Davis. The Patriots picked on Davis early, exploiting his coverage abilities.”"
I point this out because that’s actually a good thing to happen in the preseason. Expectations for this Lions team might have been too high after the first two weeks of the preseason. This was a dose of reality against the starting players from last year’s Super Bowl Champion.
The Patriots claimed that title for a reason: they’re a great team. And to be the best, you need to beat the best. Now, we know how far the Lions need to come.
As pointed out above, this is a great learning experience coming from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. Davis has game tape to study on what the champions of last year did to him in this game. Learn young fella. Soak it all in. Use this experience to get better. This Lions team needs it.
The linebacker corps is quickly getting younger as injuries keep coming. Lions’ rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin was forced into starting action as linebacker Tahir Whitehead went down with a knee injury in the third quarter.
Reeves-Maybin showed some good instincts and promise while on the field. But another injury to a starter on defense is the bigger problem. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the obvious starters in game action this preseason.
The pass rush also needs to step up their game. Watching highlights from the game, you can see how often Brady had a clean pocket to throw from. On one Patriots touchdown, there were six men in protection to block four pass rushers.
The Lions were unable to prevent the score with seven defenders covering four receivers. That doesn’t bode well for a defense with a secondary that is arguably its strongest unit at the moment. A pass rush to disrupt the pocket could go a long way to preventing touchdowns like these.
There is another bit of good news. The Lions won’t face Patriots the rest of the season. Their focus can shift to the opponents on their regular season schedule and winning their division. The tough task of facing the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice this year still lies ahead.
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Friday’s loss brought light to weaknesses on the Lions’ defense. Now the team needs to work to improve upon those weaknesses before the meaningful games are played.