My first thought was "wow - the Lions starters look great!". My second thought was "Dang, the Browns look like crap!"
All I've seen is talking about how the Browns were "down" a few starters -- Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis. The Lions didn't use Cory Redding, starting DT. They also pulled Kitna, Roy and CJ in the first quarter. Wouldn't that, relatively speaking, put them on a relatively equal footing with the Browns? Especially when they pulled K. Smith after the TD run? The browns, into the 3rd quarter still had their starting O and D on the field!
I was, however, good practice for the Lions D especially as their second, and even some 3rd string guys got to put their performance against starters on tape. Good Stuff.
The Lions running game didn't get a lot going - other than the passing game, that is. For the third week in a row teams were reminded (especially on Smiths great TD run) that if they cheat the pass, the Lions will scorch them on the ground. Backus threw a great block on that play, and the Oline literally tied up everyone but the secondary onto the wrong side of the Smith.
Orlovsky's block was great and underscored something else that showed: Orlovsky has progressed to where, if Kitna goes down for a bit, he can lead this team. The players know that he will be playing every down until the whistle blows and can do what it takes to lead them to a score. Did he throw a boneheaded pick? Yup. Did he get over it and lead the team? Yup.
Usually Don Banks writes some pretty decent analysis, but I have to disagree about Orlovsky being the 31st rated backup QB in the league. I could see plenty of teams on that list who would be waaay more screwed if their starter went down than the Lions would be right now. Grossman or Orlovsky? Heck, Orton or Orlovsky? Seriously now - Don did what everyone does now and then and just pulled this one out of his hat. How good was Tom Brady rated as a NE backup QB?
I disagree that the Lions "wasted" time against a 3-4 since they only "see it once" during the season. If they struggle against it, they will see it a lot more than that. They were able to start breaking off runs for good gain in the first half, so I don't see teams throwing in extra 3-4 to beat them as of right now. But if they make the playoffs, it's about 50/50 as to 3-4 and 4-3 teams they'll face. While it's true the best 3-4 teams are in the AFC, there are still a couple (Dallas) that come to mind in the NFC.
The Lions have been dominating with their first team O -- and I loved what I saw from them in the third game. Marinelli wasn't trying to win it with his starters -- he wasn't even really trying to work on the run game in that first quarter. He was running some hurry up since the starters hadn't had an opportunity. The Lions are treating the preseason right - a warmup and live practice, and a chance to evaluate guys on the bubble.
If I'm Standeford, I ignore wavier offers and count on the Lions not paying big-bucks to McDonald and being able to catch onto the Lions roster in 2009. Funny how I've read lists of places to go if you want a fair tryout -- and Rod Marinelli in Detroit was on every list. Why? Because irregardless of draft position, veteran, etc. -- if you are the best player, you get more time and you get a shot to make the team. Ask Leon Joe, or even Dave Raynor what kinds of tryouts/tape building they got. Standeford can try a year on the practice squad and, with the injuries this WR corps seems to pile on each year, he has a great shot at being called up and/or sticking next year. Same thing goes for Robinson, who also has practice squad eligibility and sees what sticking with the Lions can developing has done for Keith Smith - who in my opinion, after 3 preseason games, is looking like a good re-sign last ifseason and likely to get an extension if he plays well this year. Definitely made great strides from last year to this, unlike Stanley Wilson.
At RB - I liked what Calhoun showed on his runs. He was running hard, and hitting the lanes well. He is not a long term, every down back but could do very well at being a change-up/breather/backup to K. Smith. I don't think the Lions will go the way I want them to on this, but the amount of work Bell, Pinner, and Calhoun get and where in the 4th preseason game will be an indicator. I think Pinner's lack of reps in the 3rd game had everything to do with wanting to see what other guys could do since they had seen what they wanted out of Pinner. I still think Cason could get cut, but it seems to be a slim chance at best.
the defense, overall, looked very solid. Still need to do a little better against the run, but once again they seemed to wear out the Offense, versus the other way around. And the Browns WR were getting roughed up as bad or worse by the D than the Cincy ones were. They were catching the ball and hightailing it OB instead of going for YAC. That says a lot right there. I loved the dazed look on I think Kasper's face as three Lions (not sure which three, not in my notes) just pancaked him from all directions as he made the catch. Unless Mike Furrey is your slot WR, your men over the middle will be VERY gun shy...
Have to get ready for the FFB Dynasty League draft tonight. A look at the 4th game, final thoughts before cuts, followed by lots of thoughts after cuts as we head into the season.