The Detroit Lions defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night in a meaningless preseason game. While the win and the score do not matter, there were several observations that I made as a result of the game that have me both concerned and excited. Below are some of my observations and thoughts on the game.
Receivers – Outside of Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson, Detroit is in trouble at wide receiver. While Jeremy Ross actually looked like a solid target Friday night, he was far from 3rd receiver caliber and looks to be in jeopardy of losing his special teams role as well. While he likely will not be cut in the first round of roster cuts, he also may not be good enough to make the team. Greg Salas played with the first team offense but did not seem to be able to get open. He was the next best receiver after Tate and Ross, but that does not mean much when he only had 17 yards.
First Team Defense – Yes I realize that the players starting that third preseason game are not all the starters for week 1. I also realize that we have yet to see Haloti Ngata play in Detroit. Still, I cannot help but be concerned with how poorly the Detroit defense played against the Jacksonville starters. Jacksonville seemed to have no trouble running and the tight ends were wide open all game. Rashean Mathis also looked his age, consistently getting beat or penalized for his play. They get a pass for now considering it is just preseason, but I am concerned that this team may not be a playoff team this season, especially given the schedule they face to open the season.
Zach Zenner – I have a hard time seeing Detroit letting Zenner go. He was one of the few bright spots Friday night, and ran well against the first team Jacksonville defense. He is working on breaking through on special teams right now, but given Bell’s health, Zenner seems like a player the team needs to keep around, especially if teams like the Dallas Cowboys were watching Zenner run.
Detroit Offensive Line – The Lions worked to upgrade their offensive line, and the starters definitely looked the part. The running backs seemed to have no problem running all night and Stafford was not sacked once. If they can continue to stay healthy and play like this in the regular season, Detroit’s offense should be very good this season.
In all, the starters looked average this week, but that may not be an indication of what we see in the regular season. We will have to wait two weeks for their game against San Diego before we know what this Detroit Lions team looks like. Thursday’s preseason game will be a tryout for all players trying to stick with the team. The starters, if they play at all, will only see one series, and the backups that are still on the team will be fighting hard for a chance to stick on the 53 man roster. With cuts already taking place today, it will be interesting to see who is left for this week’s tryout game.