Going through the motions. That is about the first phrase that came to mind as I was watching the first quarter unfold. There were literally almost a dozen players on the field for the opening kickoff return, and the punt return for a TD. Almost to a man they were fighting for roster spots. They needed to show they could make plays on special teams to earn a spot among the 53.
And they FAILED miserably. Yes, Josh Cribbs is among the best in the game at returning kicks. Yes, it isn’t easy to tackle him. But someone had to come in and make a play on special teams. They were in position — but didn’t close the deal.
The long TD runs… same deal.
The dropped passes…same deal.
The WR not creating separation…same deal.
The defensive players fighting for starting spots…same deal.
I haven’t re-watched the tape yet, but on the whole, Jim Schwartz summed it up best when asked what positives he could take away from the first half: “Nothing. Nothing at all.”
As I said last preseason game, it’s hard to tell what the coaches are trying to do on any given play, but I can guarantee that they did NOT get the results they were looking for in most cases. So what did I take away as far as first impressions from the game?
- This is, overall, a young team and momentum will have a pretty big effect this season.
- Dane Looker was the only WR who showed up trying to earn a spot with his play. He could challenge Northcuttfor the starting slot WR spot.
- Aaron brown didn’t see as much time becuase they saw enough last week to know he’s making the roster. So they were seeing what other players had.
- Matthew Stafford is a rookie QB.
- Lions D stiffened up once they settled down, and after the 1st quarter, the 1’s vs 1’s on defense looked better.
- Lions Oline was okay, but they still weren’t getting a lot of push in the run game.
- Kevin Smith is a feature back
- Jerome Felton was grossly underutilized last year as suspected. I don’t see how it can be doubted that a Felton-Terelle Smith Jumbo package isn’t going to pick up a lot of 3rd and shorts. He was a load ot take down, and it was great to see him carry a couple of tacklers along with him for about 10 yards on one of his second half runs.
- Why was Cason returning kicks in the first half, and again getting so many runs? Isn’t there enough tape out there on the guy?? If Allen Ervin wasn’t hurt, I’m thinking he would have gotten more time at RB but why Cason on returns versus Williams early? It made no sense to me, and is a decision I’m questioning as far as the coaching staff is concerned. Unless they keep 4 pure backs, then it’s Brown, Morris and Cason fighting for 2 spots. Is Morris’ injury more serious that thought prior?? I also didn’t get Cason trying to pick up the 4th and short. That just screamed Felton to me and I hope we don’t see that kind of call in the regular season.
- The coaches stayed aggressive, even when the team was struggling — going for the FG that was missed from 53 yards was a good example.
- The Lions did worst when playing Vanilla Defense, and got the best pressure and stops once Cunningham starting ratcheting up the aggressiveness.
- The Browns are said to be leaning towards starting Quinn, but to me DA looked better.
- The Lions finally notched 3 sacks, and were getting better pressure later
- S. Smith and Jackson didn’t do as well getting pressure against the Cleveland 1’s as Cohen and Hill did against Atlanta.
- Darby still looked to be the weakest DT to me, withS. Smith and Harris about tied. Jackson looked rusty, Cohen looked like a starter who will still earn some lumps as a young player, Fluellen looked much improved, and Hill looks like he might be an impact guy in the rotation.
- Hunter still looked iffy to me. IAF looked OK. Still think White and Avril are the two best ends.
- It’s worth mentioning again that Looker made a strong statement to make the roster as the 4th or 5th wideout. He got himself in the right spots, and made the catch. (making the catches being key)
- Intensity was lacking from the get go — and the team seemed very succeptible to momentum shifts.
- Sims played much better than last week.
- Once again, even though this was a blowout loss versus a close win — the holes on the roster are readily apparent, but that was only to be expected.
I also did a play by play of the game with quick notes as I went along. It was hard to get numbers, etc. and see who was doing what. This is also a good time to point out that the announcing for these games is just beyond awful. At one point, they were yammering about the PACKERS when I wanted to know who the defensive substitutions were!! They didn’t post lineups til well into the game — and after substitutions had been made.
My beef about the announcing may seem petty and somewhat anal but lets step back a second, let me explain: Most of the people watching the preseason game (especially by the 4th quarter) are watching because they want to see how players who are competing are playing! It’s not like a regular season game (although I still don’t like it when they talk about something totally unrelated to the game while plays are going on.) In the regular season, the camera angles are a bit better, and you know who the starters are — you get notified of substitutions as they are less frequent.
For those of us watching and trying to get a feel for the team and the players on the bubble, I would like to see the preseason announcers treat it like it is, instead of just babbling for 3 hours. Lions announcers: Tell us who is in the game — who is coming in and out; who is making the tackle even for gosh sakes would be nice instead of having to wait for a published play-by-play!! At one point, there was a sack and we didn’t even know who got it! Cater to who is watching preseason games — typically die-hard fans who WANT to know theses things much more than hearing Desmond joke about locker room antics in Green Bay.
Sorry about the rant, but in the preseason the announcers seem more interested in themselves than the game — and it is the constant change ups and substitutions, and guys making plays in the game that interest us most.