The Detroit Lions played against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday in their “dress rehearsal” game as it is commonly referred. Preseason week three is the week when all coaches play their starters the most so that they can break through the offseason rust in time for the regular season. We were expecting to see the Lions offense score more, move the ball better, and stop the opposing offense given that the starters were playing more than a series or two. Instead, we got a mess of a game. a 30-9 beating by the Ravens in Baltimore. It was a game in which the Lions appeared to be absent. They returned starters DeAndre Levy and Ameer Abdullah, but still did not see any success. Below I will try to illustrate some of the good as well as touch on just some of the bad.
The good is a very limited section. The offensive line seemed to get a bit better. They did open a hole for Theo Riddick‘s 35 yard run, although Riddick almost missed it. Outside of that run though, the run game was dormant. The first team offense attempted to move the ball, but Matthew Stafford was wildly inconsistent compared to other games. He also threw an interception. Haloti Ngata looked good which bodes well for the defensive line. He had a sack and a few tackles.
For the bad though, the team as a whole looked bad. The defense surrendered over 100 yards rushing. DeAndre Levy looked out of place at times and Nevin Lawson had a rough game. As mentioned earlier, Stafford was inconsistent. Jake Rudock did not complete a single pass. Dan Orlovsky, the best Lions quarterback of the night, was 4-7 for 49 yards with a fumble. The offensive line surrendered 4 sacks while the defensive line only managed to get 2 sacks. Outside of a big return from Jace Billingsley and a 60 yard field goal from Prater, the special teams was poor as well. Prater and Devon Bell both missed a field goal, although Prater’s miss could be attributed to the poor snap from rookie longsnapper Jimmy Landes, who was mysteriously injured during the game bad enough to end up on injured reserve. Landes, who played the entire game Saturday, performed so poorly that it was expected he would be cut had the injury not forced him to IR.
Looking over this past game, and comparing it to what we have seen thus far in the preseason, I can conclude that the running game is a mess and in desperate need of help. I do not know how much of the blame belongs to the offensive line (definitely close to half) and how much of it is poor play from the running backs (prior to Saturday, Ameer Abdullah has been out with an injury). The pass blocking needs to get better. Once the regular season starts, if Matthew Stafford gets sacked an average of four times per game, I suspect he will become erratic with the ball as he was in the first half of last season. Finally, the defense needs to gel. The defensive line was supposed to be the strongest part of the Lions roster with so many expecting tough cuts at defensive tackle. Yet, both Cincinnati and Baltimore have run with ease against the Lions defense. Add to that the lack of sacks generated thus far and it appears that they are not getting the job done. The secondary is partially at fault as well with Lawson getting picked on and penalties derailing their efforts to stop the offense. With their final game of the preseason Thursday night, expect to see the starters rest while the bubble players fight to earn the few spots left that are up for grabs. Expect poor team play and standout individual play from a few.Finally, considering the trend so far this preseason, expect 30 points to be scored by someone, as the last three Lions preseason games ended with the winning team scoring 30.