hey guys ... the lions just finished getting whooped by the browns in preseason game #2. 27-10 was the final. i was able to watch the 1st half and most of the 4th quarter, thanks to the game being on fox instead of stupid nfl network. here are my initial thoughts:
-stafford was horrible. he started the game, and his first pass was a telegraphed interception. a horrible throw. he looks uncomfortable when he rolls out, he can't throw on the move. even when he had time, he still rushed his throws and didnt go through his reads. a couple bad throws, two to standeford, and one bomb to jennings that was a touchdown if he didnt overthrow him by 5 yards. stafford looks joey-ish; too skidish in the pocket, and just had unconfidence all over his face. horrible, horrible performance. i think part of his struggles were because hes never faced a 3-4 defense before. he wasnt used to the extra LB in coverage and the different looks in short coverage. when he went deep he just missed the throw. not a good sign, because we play 7 games against 3-4 defenses this season, including 2 against the pack. stafford better start looking at gametape instead of partying with bikini babes.
-on a more positive note, daunte culpepper and drew stanton looked great tonight. Culp definitely did we he had to do to earn the starting job for week 1, which is what im hoping for. stanton is too good to be a #3 qb. he's untraditional with all his scrambling around, but he gets the job done, and on third and long he actually tries to get the first down, instead of settling for 3 yards on 3rd and 10 (stafford did that about 4 times).
-you know who else looked good tonight? The offensive line! No joke. we didn't give up any sacks, and in the second quarter they gave daunte all kinds of time to go through reads and find the open guy. yeah, the browns dont offer much of a pass rush, but still, it was good to see. Daniel Loper started at LG and him and backus seemed to have a good chemistry. cherilus actually looked good in pass protection too. the running game was lacking, especially with kevin smith, who looked really, really slow. did rudi johnson sneak onto the field in a 34 jersey? that's what it looked like. jerome felton, the fullback, was our only threat running the ball. but how great was it to see the O-line was protecting the quarterback! The TEs and RBs were picking up the extra blitzer in the 3-4, and that's especially impressive considering no Pettigrew tonight.
-speaking of rookies, Louis Delmas made his debut tonight and had a few big hits and looked sharp. he gets to the ball fast. after only watching a few defensive sequences with the #1 defense on the field, there's no question that Delmas is already the best player in the Lions' secondary. Buchanon looked downright horrible; he's going to be one of the weakest links on the team this year. the browns picked on him all first half. anthony henry looked bad too; he can't cover anyone, but at least he can tackle. delmas looked really good.
-there were three standouts on defense: Ernie Sims, Cliff Avril, and DeAndre Levy. Sims is no surprise, but he really did play awesome in the first half. he was running down the ballcarrier from all over the field. Levy was doing the same in the fourth Q, and definitely earning his spot on the team. Avril entered the game after a few serieses on D, and made an immediate impact. it wasn't until his first play on defense that we actually rushed the passer, and he forced anderson to hurry a third-down pass and the browns had to kick. Avril was repeatedly pressuring both anderson and quinn, and that's most impressive considering he was lined up against pro bowl LT joe thomas, who is about 4 inches and 40 pounds bigger than Cliff. Avril had all the moves going, inside, outside, spinning, swimming, anything to get to the QB, and it was nice to see him pull that against one of the best offensive lineman in the nfl. He could really rack up some sacks, being in the nfc north.
-what's up with dane looker? dude had about 15 receptions. culpepper kept finding him on the right sideline; about five plays daunte rolled right, waited, and hit looker right at the sideline. he's a solid, albiet slow, possesion receiver. might give northcutt a run for his money. speaking of northcutt, where is he? is he hurt?
-considering calvin and pettigrew didn't play, im not too worried about the anemic lions offense yet. but kevin smith has got to be able to get around the corner; he was SO slow tonight, getting pulled down by the d-line on every carry. trying to run around the tackles and he couldnt make it out of the backfield.
-special teams were TERRIBLE!! stan kwon, what is going on? the browns return the opening kick 100 yards (called back for holding), then return a punt 80 yards five minutes later, and run a few other ones back for 10 or 20 yards. we were penalized on it seemed like every special teams play. what the heck? look, it seems like you can pick and choose your battle on special teams: either play conservatively, don't get penalized and don't fumble, or take a gamble and try to make a big play. how do we get called for holding, AND only run the kickoff back to the 18 yard line?? it's absurd. absolutely horrible special teams. it was the only thing worse than stafford's performance.
-speaking of horrible, did you see jim schwartz? what was the deal with his untucked, wrinkly shirt? was that a shirt, or a lab coat? he had on a white, wrinkly, XXXL shirt down to his knees. tuck your shirt in man, youre a head coach. he looked so sloppy and unprofessional. he needed to shave as well. he looked embarassing. also the khakis didnt match his shirt. i'm no fashion critic, not even close, but come on; if you saw him you know what i'm talking about. coaches have to look sharp; he looked like a slob.
-last but not least, i'd just like to reiterate how bad matt stafford was in the first quarter. he could have easily had zero completions tonight, except for the fact that on third downs he settled for 3 yard dumps that the browns gave him. he couldn't do anything at all against that defense, and they weren't even putting pressure on him. he wasn't accurate, he forced throws into coverage, and he locked into one target the whole play, which led to the pick. that happened last game, and it happened this game. he's forming a trend and i don't like it. if he starts week 1 and plays all season, i'll guarantee you he's going to lead the nfl in interceptions. ...wait, brett favre is back in the league, never mind.
Stiff stafford looked just as bad off the field as he looked on it. bored, uninterested, he had the same stupid doverwhelmed look that joey harrington had mastered. his eyes said "i just want to go home and be with my beer keg." grow up matthew, its time to earn your $72 million! you were horrible tonight!
--Lessons Learned from preseason game 2:
-daunte is a step closer to being named the Regular Season starter
-we need calvin johnson. desperately.
-the defense has a few good players, but a few gaping holes.
-one of those holes is phillip buchanon, who is quickly becoming my personal least favorite player on the lions. he's going to be a major liability all season long.
-maybe jim schwartz isn't such a great coach after all.
-don't panic. it's only the preseason. it doesn't matter.
*fantasy football draft is tomorrow. im picking 12th for the second year in a row. damn it.