Friday, September 2, 2011

Game PreView: Tampa via Mlive Lions Forum

I was looking at trying to get together a preview for the season opener at Tampa Bay, when I saw that Thunderfoot on the Mlive Lions Forum had already posted a summary I essentially agreed with -- and felt would be good to share with you. 


Detroit's offense vs Tampa's defense...

by thunderfoot, 09/02/11 1:30 PM
When the Lions go into Tampa they will be facing a defensive line which they match up better against than a lot of the lines they’ll play this season. The Bucs line is young and quick, and they’ll rotate 7 or 8 guys like the Lions will. But they are not the overpowering type or line Detroit generally has problems with. The Bucs have seen film of Stafford and his arm, but they’ve never been on the field with this guy. Without Talib, Calvin Johnson caught 10 passes from Drew Stafford last season in a Lions win at Tampa. CJ may do the same this season with Talib in the lineup. On the other side for the Bucs is 36 year old Ronde Barber who has slowed done, but not enough so that any of the other young Bucs could take his job. There safeties are nothing to write home about. At linebacker the Bucs have a rookie, in Mason Foster, manning the middle after no OTA’s and 6 weeks of training camp. He may end up a great one but he’ll be taken advantage of early. The Bucs problem on defense, besides the fact that they are young, not stout and can be run on, is the fact that there are too many interchangeable parts. They don’t have enough great or even better-than-average defenders who grabbed their position and look ready to take their games to the next level.

The Lions will probably open up in shotgun formation passing against Tampa. The Bucs will play 2 deep and may even start in the nickel. Look for Detroit to make yards on the ground, this game, and we’ll see if Tampa’s safeties get tempted to peak in the backfield. If so, the Lions will probably get at least a couple of big plays. But Tampa will be coached not to do that. As we’ve seen last season, Stafford can play a patient game as well. The bottom line is Detroit has too many real offensive weapons for the Bucs to deal with. They have to try to slow down the Lions, limit touchdowns defensively, and try to limit Detroit’s possessions. A shootout is not good for the Bucs.


Tampa's offense vs Detroit's defense...

by thunderfoot, 09/02/11 1:31 PM
When Tampa has the ball, they need to run it and get positive yards on first downs. Last season, that strategy was somewhat successful, as LeGarrett Blount had a big game running and leaping over Lions’ safeties and LBs for big gains. We should look for a better effort from Detroit this season. Tampa’s offensive line should be the best part of that team. They may indeed be with some high draft picks, high priced players and Probowl performers. The problem? They play against the relentless front 4 of Detroit this week in front an improved LB unit. They will be pressured.

I like Josh Freeman—a lot. He has it all. He is a very efficient QB with a big arm. He’s a strong kin who reminds me of Rothlisberger in that he has muscle his way out of trouble, keep plays alive and complete passes. He’s going to be a really good one in this league. Freeman, however, doesn’t have enough tools to outscore a team like Detroit. The aforementioned Blount is a slugger in the backfield, but they don’t really have an explosive 3rd down type back. Mike Williams had a really good rookie season but he is really not a burner. Benn was injured most of last season. He IS the burner but his patterns are readable at this point. The multiple knee surgeried, Kellen Winslow still holds down the fort at TE.

This offense, though featuring a good young QB is not a high scoring type offense. They won a lot of close games last season by shortening the game with Blount behind that OL, and winning in the late stages. A couple of these games they really had no right winning at all. It’s going to be fun for Lions fans to look at the differences between this back 7 and last season’s back 7. We already know what to expect from the front 4 and they will have a time battling Tampa’s best unit. However, Suh, Williams, Avril, KVB and co. should win most of those battles this season and I see no reason week one will be different


How the game should play out...

by thunderfoot, 09/02/11 1:32 PM
Here’s the game…

This season’s Lions/Bucs game kind of reminds me last season’s game against the Rams. On paper there is no reason the Bucs should even be competitive against the Lions. Like the Rams, it is the team’s record that will scare the Lions fans instead of the players on that team.

What the Lions want to do is score quickly against Tampa, and force Tampa to try to keep up. Tampa in turn, wants to play a first down game and keep their offense on the field. That’s the chess match here. Look for the Lions to score, however. Though the Bucs have some young talent on the defensive line, they are very young, and will have a couple of rookie ends playing in their first NFL game. They also have a rookie MLB backer playing in his first game. Look for those players to be taken advantage of particularly in the passing game (Best, Pettigrew). Even if butterflies affect the Lions for a series or two, they will eventually score against this unit. Tampa is trying to build a front wall but they aren’t there yet. The Bucs need Detroit’s help. They need to create turnovers and may even score off of turnovers to keep it a game. If not, the game may be out of reach by the end of the 3rd quarter.

What the Lions want to do defensively is stop the run, first, then make Tampa play a fast game. If Tampa has to try and keep up the scoring they are playing Detroit’s hands. Not only do the Lions have a front 4 built for that, but they have a quick and veteran LB corps who can not only hit, but think on their feet. Also, Tampa doesn’t have the weapons for that kind of game.

The intangibles are the Florida heat and the Bucs penchant for ball security. But the overall talent of the opponent should more than make up for those intangibles

Lions 27- Bucs 13

Thanks to Thunderfoot for putting together such a well thought out piece!  Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts readers?

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