The Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars both struggled with penalties for much of their contest, on Friday night. There was a lot of yellow littering the field, and 15 of those flags were on the Lions. In what was supposed to be Detroit’s most important preseason game, the team did not put on as if they were ready to start the season.
Matthew Stafford started off the game struggling. He went 1-5 with an interception in his first two drives. It was not the start that the Lions wanted to get off to, that’s for sure. It seemed like Stafford was eying down Calvin Johnson on his routes, and the defense is not going to forgive mistakes like that. It was Calvin Johnson’s first game played in 2014, and maybe Matthew Stafford was just trying to get him involved early. The problem was that Stafford tried a little too hard.
The Lions first team offense really did not get much of a chance to show a good rhythm. they attempted a 4th and short situation, but that conversion failed as Joique Bell failed to push the pile forward. If there is one thing that Detroit needs to improve on it is red zone rushing. Joe Lombardi was committed to the run inside the 10 yard line, but it just did not pay off on that drive.
One player on the Lions’ first team offense did stand out. That was Reggie Bush. Bush had 2 carries for the entire game (one called back on a Brandon Pettigrew holding penalty), and was able to turn one of those rushes into a 86-yard touchdown sprint. A touchdown that may not have even been possible without a key block by Lions’ rookie tight end, Eric Ebron.
The Detroit defense looked a lot better, until the penalties took over. Darius Slay was playing very good man coverage. He was always hot on the heels of the Jacksonville receivers, but he does need to get better at keeping his head on a swivel. Slay has to be ready to make a play on the ball. Being in good position is a step in the right direction, but now Slay needs to elevate his game and turn good coverage into great coverage.
Tahir Whitehead got a starting opportunity at linebacker, and boy did he impress. He finished the game with 11 total tackles, and 3 sacks. Altogether, the Lions’ defense had 6 sacks. That is great news for the Detroit Lions. Last season, the Lions failed to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. However, that trend looks like it is on the decline. Teryl Austin was very aggressive with the Detroit linebackers, and he did a great job keeping the players on the defensive line fresh. The Lions have a very impressive defensive rotation.
Jonte Green is a cornerback with a lot of talent. This is also not his first rodeo. A lot of people think that Chris Greenwood shouls make Detroit’s 53-man roster, but I don’t see it happening with Jonte Green playing like he is. He has great awareness on the field, and put himself in perfect position to grab an interception during the Jacksonville game. If I was a betting man, my money would be on Jonte Green sticking around on the Lions roster.
Mikel LeShoure’s job is on the line. If nothing solidified that before, then last night’s performance should have. Although George Winn did not necessarily put on a show to beat out Mikel LeShoure, Mikel did not help his cause with a lost fumble. The Lions may end up keeping LeShoure, but there’s no way he should feel good about his performance this preseason. George Winn can also play special teams.
Giorgio Tavecchio’s job may very well be on the line, also. He was given the opportunity to show that he can hit a long distance field goal, but he failed to hit a 51-yard shot. Tavecchio was supposed to be the better of the Lions’ kickers at hitting long range field goals, but he did not convert over 50 this preseason. Nate Freese, his competitor, made good on a 55-yard attempt during the Oakland Raider game.
As previously mentioned, penalties were the tale of the game. Detroit was responsible for 15 penalties which resulted in a loss of 131 yards. The Lions also were hoping to stop the turnover bug from showing up again this season, but they gave the ball away three times against the Jaguars. The Lions snuck away with a preseason win, but only a few of the Detroit players came away winners.