Again, the Detroit Lions looked good in their second preseason game Saturday against the Denver Broncos. Both the first team offense and first team defense played especially well in the two quarters of work Jim Schwartz allowed for them. Matthew Stafford looked poised, while zipping the ball around the field to numerous receivers. He seems to be very comfortable and confident now with a year of experience under his belt. He threw a beautiful strike to Calvin Johnson for a touchdown in the first quarter that showed everyone why he was the number one overall draft pick last year. Also on the play, Calvin Johnson looked like his normal freakish self, skying over the defensive back to catch the ball at its’ highest point. On the other side, Nate Burleson looked like he will get the job done as the number two receiver opposite Johnson, due to his precise route running and ability to catch the ball.
Maybe the most surprising player on the field last night was rookie RB Jahvid Best. He was explosive bursting through the line of scrimmage and also was tough running between the tackles. He finished with 50 yards on 8 carries. In terms of backups, Shaun Hill will suffice as the backup quarterback and Kevin Smith, making his preseason debut, was at his best catching the ball out of the backfield. That is his strength and I can see the Lions using Best and Smith as a very formidable one-two punch. Brandon Pettigrew also made his preseason debut for a few series and dropped a pass in the end zone that may have been deflected. Still, it was good to see him on the field after suffering a season ending injury last year because he will be a valuable piece of the offense, both receiving and blocking. All in all, it was a good night for the offense, but there are still some improvements that need to be made. One is the red zone offense, which went 0-4 last night. The Lions had 4 drives of over 10 plays, but had to settle for field goals on each of those drives. For this team to win more games, they must be able to capitalize in the red zone and get seven, instead of three points.
The front seven for the Lions defense last night was unstoppable, recording 3 sacks. Kyle Vanden Bosch was again all over the field and showed that he has a motor that never stops. He was in on a sack and also had numerous quarterback hurries. At the other end, Cliff Avril looked quick off the ball and made it tough for Broncos QB Kyle Orton to feel comfortable in the pocket. The linebacking core, which welcomed back DeAndre Levy, played fast and stopped a Broncos running attack that normally ranks amongst the best in the NFL year in and year out. But for as great as the front seven played, it was the same old story in the secondary. CB Chris Houston had trouble in man to man coverage, as did most of the other members of Lion’s secondary. They were not able to take advantage of the great push up front and had trouble making plays in one on one situations. One good thing that the secondary did make happen was an interception by Dre’ Bly. It was nice to see a unit that only had 4 interceptions last year create a turnover and return it inside the opponent’s 30 yard line. One last issue that the Lions must shore up before their first game is penalties. They had 2 defensive penalties on one drive that gave the Broncos an extra down, in which they capitalized on and got a first down both times. This cannot happen, especially by a 2 win team that is looking to increase that total this year. The Lions look like a much improved team, but it is only preseason and I do not want to get my hopes up just yet!
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Written by David Lesmeister