Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thoughts on the Lions Preseason: Game 1

To be honest, I didn't actually watch any of the game. I might watch it later this week on DVR. I saw the stat line, a few highlights and read some articles about it. Here is what stuck out to me, a quote from Matthew Stafford after the game, talking about his lame duck pass that was picked off and run back for 6 Falcon points:

"I'm going to throw interceptions," Stafford said. "It's going to happen."

Hmmm.... It's going to happen??

I don't know how I feel about that. Sure, he's being honest, and definitely realistic. But is that really what we want to hear? Couldn't he have said, "Yeah, that was a lousy throw, I'll try to learn from my mistakes," or "I'm glad I have the preseason to prepare," or something a little bit optimistic. At least he redeemed himself later, by leading a scoring drive and completing some deep throws, including a 25-yard touchdown to fellow rookie receiver Derrick Williams. His stat line looked pretty decent:-7 for 14, 114 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, but it sounds like he played even better than his numbers indicate; Keary Colbert dropped two or three of his passes.

Speaking of Colbert, it doesn't look likely that he's going to see much playing time. (Thankfully.) Williams played very well and looks to have no rust from his lingering hamstring injury, so my guess is he's going to end up 4th on the WR depth chart, behind the Johnsons and Dennis Northcutt. Colbert may end up being cut in favor of Standeford. I remember seeing Colbert play for the Panthers and the dude is terrible.

The studs of the game were rookie RB Andre Brown and former Spartan Drew Stanton of all people, who led a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback, culminating in a last-second Hanson field goal. Stanton had 114 yards in the second half, and ran for 59 more. Brown made a serious case for playing time by displaying his speed and elusiveness on a couple of big plays; I don't see why he shouldn't be 3rd on the RB depth chart. He makes a better change-of-pace back than some slow loser like Cason or Calhoun.

The Lions struggled with penalties, particularly on defense. In total we had nine penalties for over 100 yards. Not a great omen. It sounds as if the defense showed some signs of who could be moving up on the depth chart, and who's stock could be sinking: Chuck Darby had two penalties in a row, while safety Kalvin Pearson missed several open field tackles, including one on Michael Turner's 40 yard TD. Fellow safety Stu Schweigert made well, especially in run support, and might be making a case to start opposite Delmas.

The two rookies I'm most excited about (other than Stafford), Pettigrew and Delmas, both did not play with minor injuries. Megatron didn't play either. Kevin Smith played really solid. Culpepper actually played pretty well too. From what I saw on the play-by-play, he sure got sacked a lot, but also showed decent mobility. The big question mark was the O-line, which Jim Schwartz praised after the game, although they suffered from their usual amount of penalties and sacks allowed. But the running game seemed to be more effective than in games past, so maybe they are making progress.

All in all, a win is a win, even in the preseason, and to win in such dramatic fashion helps the team's morale. No major players got injured (backup linebacker Cody Spencer went down with a potentially serious knee injury, but really, who cares?), some of the young players looked explosive, and all three quarterbacks played well. Except for the one Stafford interception.

But don't worry, he plans on throwing a lot more interceptions in the future. It's going to happen.

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