The Detroit Lions lost their preseason opener to the Atlanta Falcons, but there was a lot of good to be pulled from the game.
Detroit Lions football is officially back! In typical Lions fashion, that meant snatching defeat from the jaws of victory Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Luckily it’s only the preseason, so the end result doesn’t matter as much as individual performances as battles for roster spots rage on. There were positives and negatives on both sides of the ball, as expected. However, the mistakes on offense feel more correctable than the defensive blunders.
So let’s jump into the report card for the Lions’ preseason opener.
Detroit Lions preseason report card: Week 1 vs. Falcons
Offense: 4/5 Stars
The starting offense looked very sharp on its lone drive of the night. The offensive line was dominant, led by Frank Ragnow and Penei Sewell. Jared Goff looked composed under pressure, and delivered some nice throws, including a nice cross-body completion to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The running back duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams looked good on the ground, finding rushing lanes with ease. Swift scored the touchdown to cap the drive for the starters.
When the Lions’ first team left the field, the offense’s consistency went with it. No. 2 quarterback Tim Boyle had a few really nice passes, including a deep shot to Kalif Raymond and a fade to Devin Funchess in the end zone for a touchdown. But he also threw a pretty brutal interception when Detroit was deep in its own territory.
The worst mistake of the day though was a mental error by No. 3 signal caller David Blough. More on that later.
Best offensive player: WR Tom Kennedy
On the broadcast, Kennedy was appropriately dubbed “Mr. Reliable” as he hauled in pass after pass. Kennedy finished the day with eight catches for 104 yards on 12 targets, clearly demonstrating how comfortable the backup quarterbacks are throwing him the ball.
Kennedy was particularly effective at getting open just north of the sticks to keep the chains moving. It’s just one of the reasons he’s consistently been a preseason darling. Opportunity knocked on Friday night, and he answered.
Worst offensive player: QB David Blough
Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson wanted to practice a situation–a four-minute offense with a lead late in a game. Friday night, the chance to work on it came.
After moving the chains a few times, Detroit was poised to run out the clock and win the game. Unfortunately, Blough completely botched the snap and turned the ball over.
Obviously, that’s a brutal mistake, It’s also one you wouldn’t expect Blough to make again, and he will not lose the battle to be the No. 2 quarterback solely because of it.
Defense: 2/5 Stars
There was a lot of reason for concern about the Lions’ defense after the Falcons’ opening drive. They were absolutely gashed in the run game by Atlanta’s running backs, and quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The edge defenders and linebackers showed a severe lack of discipline in being able to contain plays and “set edges”. A talking point all offseason was how the defense was shifting to a more attacking scheme and mindset. The front line was aggressive, but the discipline, or lack thereof, left a lot to be desired.
Best defensive player: DE Aidan Hutchinson
It took two plays of their opening drive for the Falcons to start double-teaming Hutchinson. On the second play, the Lions’ rookie did this:
That’s exactly the type of flash play fans were hoping to see from Hutchinson in his preseason debut. He also looked pretty sharp as a pass rusher, forcing Mariota to scramble a few times and drawing a holding penalty. All in all, not a bad debut for the No. 2 overall pick.
Worst defensive player: CB Cedric Boswell
It’s not a great look to give up a touchdown on 4th and 9 with a chance to close out the game. Especially tough for someone who has an uphill battle on a cornerback depth chart that already features a whole bunch of names ahead of him.
Those are the type of negative plays that can cost you a roster spot, as the first wave of cuts approaches. Boswell had a nice pass breakup earlier in the final quarter, but that won’t be what sticks in memory.
Ultimately, there wasn’t any one Lions’ defender who particularly stood out for poor play on Friday night. It was the defense as a whole that needed to be better in some areas and situations. So unfortunately for Boswell, one bad play is enough to land him in this spot.
Special Teams: 5/5 Stars
The kicking battle continues, but no changes in that race will be found here after the first preseason game. Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson were perfect on their respective kicks.
Jack Fox was in midseason form, with an absolute bomb of a punt that went 65 yards. The kick was so far it beat the punt coverage and allowed a decent return to take place.
The Lions’ kickoff and punt coverage was good, as expected. Dave Fipp had this special teams unit among the best in the league a year ago, so it’s no surprise that continued.
While a loss is never great, it’s only the first game of the preseason. Getting reps for young players and those on the roster bubble was infinitely more important, and there was success in that respect.
Detroit Lions football is back for a new year, and optimism for the 2022 season is still high.