Detroit Lions defense shines vs. Jets in every category but one

They say football is a game of inches. The difference between being a potential playoff team or having a disaster of a season can come down to a handful of plays over the course of the season.

If the Detroit Lions want to step up and become a perennial postseason contender (and possibly win their second playoff game in 60 years), they have to stop ALMOST making plays and ACTUALLY make them.

In the preseason game Saturday night where the Lions defeated the New York Jets 16-6, I paid special attention to the defense to see if they could take advantage of an offense that is going to struggle all season long.

Detroit’s D did a very good job overall, holding New York’s first string to only three yards in the first quarter, and only giving up a pair of field goals the rest of the game after the starters took a seat.

However, one of the biggest issues the Lions had in 2016 was causing turnovers. They had only 14 all of last season. Only three teams were worse in that category.

There were three turnover opportunities that the first team missed out on Saturday night:

  • On New York’s first series, Cornelius Washington was untouched and sacked quarterback Christian Hackenberg. It was a devastating hit, and it jarred the ball loose, but none of the Lions seemed to notice. For what seemed like an eternity, the ball just wobbled there on the Jets 10-yard line before an offensive lineman fell on it.
  • On the very next series, Nevin Lawson deflected a pass in Jets territory that floated right toward the waiting arms of Glover Quin, who somehow managed to drop it.
  • On a kickoff later in the game, it appeared that the Lions might have forced a fumble, but Detroit was offside on the kick, so it never got reviewed.

It may seem like nitpicking in a preseason game that the defense dominated, but these are the same kind of things that happened all last year. If this was a close game against a good team in the regular season, these are the types of plays the Lions are going to have to make in order to take the next step.