Another preseason game is in the books for the Detroit Lions, but this one ended up a 27-26 loss to the Oakland Raiders. As with most preseason games, this one was a story that a final score could not tell. The Detroit Lions came out the gates playing good football with their starters, on both sides of the ball.
Oakland started their first drive with a few pass completions, and Lions’ cornerback Rasheen Mathis seemed to struggle to defend the pass, at first. Mathis made up for it shortly. He came up big with a tipped pass that was subsequently intercepted by James Ihedigbo. The Lions starting secondary looked like they were a lot more aware of each other on the field after they had finally gotten a few plays to get comfortable.
Another defensive starter that came up big was Steven Tulloch. He looked like a monster coming through the offensive line, off of Teryl Austin’s blitzes. With the help of the defensive tackles, Tulloch was able to get into the backfield and cause havoc.
On the offensive side of the ball, Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate were able to connect for a 28 yard touchdown pass. Golden Tate looked stellar, and was getting great separation on his routes. Matthew Stafford could not miss a throw. He went 9/10, with 88 yards, and 2 touchdowns. His one incomplete pass was a drop by running back Reggie Bush.
All in all, the Detroit Lions first team offense rolled. The offensive line was doing their job all night. Stafford had plenty of time to find his receivers down the field, so that is very encouraging. Even Joe Lombardi’s play calls have appeared more logical than the Lions offensive coordinator from 2013, Scott Linehan.
As far as the second and third teams go, the play started to get a little sloppy as soon as the starters departed. The Lions quickly gave up a touchdown, but it would not have been possible without a 12 men on the field penalty. The Lions had 3 crucial penalties on that single drive, and 2 of them were for first downs. Jim Caldwell did not look happy with all of the penalties that his second and third team players were committing, on both sides of the ball. Without a doubt, that is an area that will be addressed heavily in upcoming practices.
The battle for the Detroit Lions’ kicking position has been getting a lot of focus from the media, and it continued to be a storyline of the preseason contest against Oakland. Nate Freese missed an extra point (33 yard extra point due to the NFL’s trial for making the extra point longer). Then, he was called on for a 55 yard field goal. Freese split the uprights, and looked like he could have hit the kick at 60 yards. However, many question the fact that he missed a chance at converting an extra point; an extra point that may have inevitably cost the Lions the game.
Giorgio Tavecchio is Nate Freese’s competitor in the Detroit Lions kicking competition, and he was generally thought of as an underdog to win the position. After Nate Freese missed an extra point last night, he may have finally closed the gap a little bit. Tavecchio made a field goal and an extra point against Oakland, and had zero misses. That does not necessarily mean that he could beat out Nate Freese, but it does indicate that the kicking position battle is going to come down to the wire.
George Winn is the Detroit Lions running back that Lions’ fans have been talking about, ever since his preseason debut. He has shown a great downhill running approach, and some say he looks as if he is trying to run for a touchdown every time he gets the ball. Winn does a great job hitting the hole, and keeping his center of gravity low. That is something that Mikel LeShoure has not necessarily shown. Winn is also making a case for playing special teams, and he did a great job covering kicks.
The Detroit Lions may have come out of Oakland with a loss, but it could easily be attributed to penalties that were called on the second and third team players. Still, it is a bit concerning. Jim Caldwell is supposed to have a better grasp on discipline, so it will be interesting to see how his players will react in their next appearance. The first team Detroit Lions looked very sharp on both sides of the ball, and we should be able to see a little more from them next Friday against the Jaguars.
The Detroit Lions still have a lot to prove, and in a tough division. The Bears just agreed to sign Santonio Holmes, so our defensive backs are going to need to prove that they can compete with a potent passing attack. Rodgers and Green Bay look a lot healthier, and Rodgers may get to play a full season with his skillful running back Eddie Lacy. Without a doubt, the Lions secondary is going to be tested and they will need to step up. Friday against the Jaguars will give Detroit fans a better look at where the first team defense stands.