in

Detroit Lions 2015 preseason report card

There’s something peculiarly funny about the NFL preseason.

The consensus of American football fans hate it. The majority of NFL players and coaches either think it shouldn’t exist or should be shortened two-fold. It’s seen as a waste of time with unneeded injury risk and universal meaningless purpose. These points may all be truer than true. However, if you know anything about the unseen depths of professional football then you know the preseason does carry some value.

The final extension of training camp (the NFL preseason) is a chance for starters to flash their gold and show their fans and opposing teams that they are in it to win it. It is an opportunity for rookies and last-chance veterans to claim the voids they were brought in to fill. It’s a chance for fans to get excited. For everyone to get excited.

The Detroit Lions finished their 2015 preseason by defeating the Buffalo Bills 17-10 and finishing their preseason slate off with a 3-1 record, with their only loss coming to the Washington Redskins in Week 2 of the warm up games. Now, as most of us Lions folk know all too well, wins and losses in the preseason mean absolutely nothing in terms of what’s to come record wise in real life (see Detroit Lions, 2008).

Nonetheless, there was the good, the bad and the ugly in this preseason for Detroit (and for the other 31 NFL teams except, say, the Philadelphia Eagles) and I will proceed to grade out each side of the ball for the Lions, including the players that shined and those that faltered. Knowing that 85% of the NFL preseason is played by reserves that shouldn’t see the field come Week 1, this should all be taken with a grain of salt when contemplating the overall, big-picture outcome of the 2015 regular season. Let’s begin with the offense shall we…

Offense: B+

Players that impressed: QB Matthew Stafford, RB Ameer Abdullah, RB Zach Zenner,
WR Golden Tate, G Taylor Boggs
Players that disappointed: QB Kellen Moore, TE Joseph Fauria

Everything on this team starts and ends with number 9 this season. Matt Stafford is our MVP, like it or not, and his continued progression or lack thereof could be the breaking point for the Lions to be a contender or pretender in 2015. With that said, he highly impressed in limited action this preseason, showing beautiful touch on balls thrown all over the field. Stud wideout Calvin Johnson smartly sat out of the exhibitions which allowed Stafford to shred defenses up with the oft-overlooked Golden Tate. Tate looks great (yes, I rap) and if he and Megatron can throw a whole season together for Stafford & Co. then big things are ahead for the Lions passing attack.

The ground game also shined this preseason as rookies Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner pretty much did what they wanted to with opposing defenders all month. Abdullah looks electric and Zenner could end up being the steal of the draft for the Lions. Very impressive showing for the Lions’ offense this preseason.

Defense: B-

Players that impressed: DT Jermelle Cudjo, LB Stephen Tulloch, DE Phillip Hunt, CB Nevin Lawson, CB Darius Slay
Players that disappointed: DE Larry Webster, LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Quandre Diggs

Ah, the defense. Perhaps the main group on the team that fans and coaches needed to see the most out of this preseason and honestly, they showed a lot more than I thought they would. The title of “leader” on the Lions defense this year will no doubt be returning to inside linebacker Stephen Tulloch. I saw very little signs of slowing down this year from him and with the loss of he-who-will-not-be-named-because-he-left-and-besides-his-name-is-too-damn-hard-to-spell-anyways in the offseason, Tulloch will be relied on more than ever to keep the pieces running smoothly for Detroit’s defense this year.

The player I was most impressed with, however, was former undrafted free agent and journeyman defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo. His first burst off the line is quick and nasty, which showed with his ability to rush the pocket on a consistent basis all preseason. Darius Slay looks really, really good as well. “The Earth” nickname may be pushing it, but he is playing with more confidence and smarter instincts. Nevin Lawson should beat out rookie Quandre Diggs for the nickleback position.

Special Teams: B-

Players that impressed: P Sam Martin, KR Ameer Abdullah
Players that disappointed: KR Jeremy Ross, Cover team player George Winn

Don’t read too much into the impressed/disappointed in this section because there were are a lot of different dynamics that could be judged from the four games as far as special teams are concerned. The fact that Ameer Abdullah is mentioned in this article on two different units should give you a feel of what type of talent he truly is. He should return kicks and maybe even punts as well, from Day 1. Our team needs that extra return pop and thus far Jeremy Ross just has not been the guy to give it to us. Third-year punter Sam Martin looks like Pro Bowl material and I won’t dare to mention our kicker or anything that has to do with place kicking due to the circumstances and jinx of several losses last season. We’ll walk that dog slow this season. George Winn actually had solid special teams performances during the preseason, but his failure to Madden hit stick several opposing return men didn’t help his Zach Zenner-taking-his-spot cause. Speaking of the cover team, as a whole, they didn’t look too good in these past four games. Let’s hope for better days ahead in that sense.

Total team preseason grade: B

Breakout undrafted free agents, Stafford to Tate electricity and few major injuries made this preseason a majority success for the Lions. If I based my regular season predictions on what I analyzed this preseason then I would say that the Lions will finish 9-7 and second place in the NFC North behind the Minnesota Vikings. Too bad I don’t live in the twilight zone. And that’s exactly what the NFL preseason is. A good dream or bad nightmare that can affect your future reality and make everything seem real. When all you really have to do is take pieces from it, pick up the positive, pick up the negative and move on. The Lions are 0-0 – not 3-1.

The entirety of the preseason they always were 0-0. You didn’t think preseason records actually existed did you? So bring on San Diego and let’s get real.

 

What do you think?

25 Points
Upvote Downvote

Lions final preseason special teams report

Top 10 Niklas Kronwall hits of all-time