3. Don’t hit the panic button on Jameson Williams
Everyone has seen the drop on the deep shot that Williams had in this game. It’s a perfectly reasonable reaction to say he needs to catch that pass. Anytime the ball hits you in the hands, and you have half a step on a defender, you have to make the catch.
That being said, the whole point of playing Williams as much as possible during the preseason is to work these issues out. He had multiple catches fighting through contact in this game, which was a positive sign. It would be nice to see him utilized more in the short passing game to maximize his touches in the final two preseason games.
The overarching point here is don’t panic yet. If he continues to struggle with drops in the regular season, that’s when worry can start to set in. For now though, let this young player have a chance to grow.
4. The Lions need to strongly consider keeping seven edge defenders
Edge rusher is probably the strongest position group on the roster, and it really showed on Friday night. Put simply, having the Okwara brothers and James Houston on the field against second and third-string tackles is not fair.
Julian Okwara had a great night, tallying three sacks as he fights for a roster spot. Honestly, the Lions should be doing everything in their power to keep him. There is too much talent there for the Lions to simply move on.
Josh Paschal and John Cominsky also stood out for their work in the run game early on Friday night. Both did excellent jobs setting the edge. Paschal also showed some improved pass-rush technique, specifically in countering out of a bull rush, which is how he typically rushes. Last season he struggled to generate pressure consistently because he couldn’t convert speed to power at an efficient enough rate, and didn’t possess the pass rush repertoire. If he develops as a pass rusher, he will earn a lot more snaps this season--likely at Cominksy’s expense.
That being said, Cominsky is so valuable because of his consistency. He brings the same level of intensity on every single snap, and his work against the run is invaluable to this defensive line. Both he and Paschal will see a healthy amount of snaps both at edge as well as the 3-technique spot.
5. The rookies look the part
While a majority of the starters got the night off, all of the Lions' rookies who were were able to play got at least a few snaps against the Giants. All looked the part, which is a good sign, and a few even had standout performances.
Jahmyr Gibbs struggled to gain traction between the tackles due to the lackluster play of the offensive line, but he flashed his lateral quickness and ability to get open as a receiver. He looks to be a crucial part of the offense.
Jack Campbell was heavily involved throughout the first half, and he did an excellent job against the run and showed well in man coverage against running backs as well. There were two plays towards the end of the first half in particular that stood out, when he and Jalen Reeves-Maybin combined for big stops on a 3rd-and-2 and a 4th-and-1 to turn the ball over on downs.
The big standout, however, was Brian Branch. While he did not play the most snaps, or even have a high number of impact plays, he continued his case to be the starting nickel corner. He held up in coverage very well and did a pretty good job against the run, but above all else showed he will hit opponents at every opportunity.
Branch has earned the confidence of the coaching staff and his teammates very quickly with how well he has played in camp, and it translated to the game on Friday night. Everyone should be excited about what Branch can bring to this defense.
Next up for the Lions is the Jacksonville Jaguars in their second preseason game next Saturday,, preceded by joint practices against them duringthe week. In the meantime, enjoy this clip of Maurice Alexander's punt return touchdown Friday night.