The preseason is a necessary evil
There are a few things to watch for that could have a positive or negative meaning for the Lions.
Dan Campbell has said his starters could play as much as a quarter and I’m sure he is itching to see his offensive line opening holes for the Lions backfield. If they do face Buffalo’s bench the production will mean little, but the execution and cohesiveness of the line will be worth watching.
What about the defense? It is highly unlikely that we will see Aaron Glenn’s scheme in action, but what about the individual players? Will the defensive line be disruptive on the merits of the linemen who do play?
Are the linebackers able to read and react at a respectable level and do they make any plays? Can the secondary cover anyone?
In a vanilla defense, the success of the defense is purely on the shoulders of the individual players to win their matchups and make plays outside of the scheme that they have been working on throughout training camp.
The other thing of note would be if any Lions’ staters are dominated by the Buffalo bench.
This would be a decided red flag. That doesn’t mean there aren’t players outside of the Bills starters that can compete at a relatively high level, but if these Lions really believe they can compete as they keep saying throughout camp, then that means the starters have to be able to take advantage of any backups they face.
Regardless of whether it’s in August, September, or January.
If Jared Goff tosses a couple of interceptions to a Bills secondary made completely up of bench players that wouldn’t be good.
The exhibition season is a tool for coaches to evaluate their roster and nothing more. Outside of uninspired or poor play by the starters against backups, this is about individual players making a case for themselves to win a job on their roster.
Dan Campbell will need to make some tough decisions in a few weeks. He will mostly want to avoid injuries and put his players in a position to show they either belong or aren’t capable of contributing.
For coaches, the exhibition season is a necessary evil, but when all the dust settles, outside of some individual performances for the good or bad, there will be very little we really learn about the 2021 Detroit Lions in the preseason.