The Detroit Lions now only have two preseason games to play which is not good for the development of the team
On July 1st, the NFL announced they will be cutting Weeks 1 and 4 from the preseason schedule. This announcement negatively affects many teams in the league including the Detroit Lions. They were scheduled to take on the New England Patriots on the road in Week 1 (August 13) and have the Buffalo Bills visiting Ford Field in Week 4 (September 3).
While fans may be happy as it eliminates two games of pointless football to watch, getting rid of preseason games is not good for teams across the NFL and it’s especially bad for the Lions for a multitude of reasons.
First off, it’s bad for the development of the players and building chemistry as a team. Two fewer games disallow players to get back into game shape and at the same time, it prevents different units on the team, especially some on the defensive side of the ball, from forming on-field bonds with their counterparts.
The development and forming of team/positional chemistry issues go towards all teams but there are some specific issues that go towards just the Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford only appeared in eight games last season. While he probably would have seen limited action in a four-game preseason schedule, the reduction to two games gives him even less time to return and get back onto the field in a game capacity.
The reduction of preseason games also negatively affects the teams’ running backs as well. Going into the season, there’s expected to be a bit of competition for who should get more touches between running backs Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Swift. Johnson needs to prove that his down season in 2019 is behind him and that he can regain his 2018 form.
Swift needs to prove himself against professional defensive players and that he can mesh well in the pros. The coaching staff won’t be able to properly evaluate who should be the primary running back to start the season in just a very small sample size of two preseason games.
Cutting preseason games in half allows for less experimenting of different offensive plays. While T.J. Hockenson is guaranteed to get targets throughout the season, the same doesn’t go for tight end Jesse James who struggled in 2019. At times, the Lions may want to have both tight ends on the field but they may not have enough time to test things out in just two preseason games.
Out of all, the whole defensive unit is who suffers the most from the league reducing the amount of preseason games. As the defense is relatively new, including the coaching staff, the defensive players will need to adapt to a new game plan. This especially goes for the secondary in which guys like cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant along with safety Duron Harmon who are new to the team.
With almost no jobs on the defensive line guaranteed for anyone, playing just two preseason games doesn’t allow the coaches to properly evaluate who the best linemen on the team are and who should be starting Week 1.
Lastly, on defense, playing two preseason games doesn’t help in deciding how the Lions should best operate their scheme. Last season, they mainly played in man coverage but that didn’t end up with great results. Two preseason games don’t allow the coaching staff to make the best decision on how the defense should operate.
Playing two preseason games does no good for anyone on the team and it negatively affects the players’ preparedness and the ability to properly get ready for the season.