As positive as things looked at times for the Detroit Lions against the New York Jets last Friday, less than a week later, things went in the opposite direction just as fast against the Cleveland Browns. Detroit was carved up by Brandon Weeden and humbled 24-6 on one of those nights where next to nothing went right.
If there was a small matter of consolation, its that Calvin Johnson didn't suit up, meaning the best player in the game wasn't on the field. That does have a way of haunting an offense, but still, Detroit saw plenty of old ghosts appear, including discipline problems, a stagnant offense and a defense which looked susceptible to both the pass and run. The Hunt Report chews on the first loss of the 2013 season and attempts to find some meaning.
Personal Fouls Need To Stop. The undisciplined 2011 Lions somehow appeared on the field masquerading as the 2013 edition of the team. Detroit collected three personal fouls, the most surprising from Reggie Bush, who uncharacteristically shoved a Browns player after the whistle. As everyone knows, stupid, senseless play isn't going to cut it this season and that starts with taking needless personal foul calls. Perhaps Jim Schwartz was curt in his halftime interview because he knows if the 2013 Lions resemble his 2011 bunch while looking like they did on the field tonight, he'll quickly be visiting the unemployment line.
The Secondary Played Soft. Cleveland did whatever they wanted up top in the passing game, even with starters like Chris Houston and Darius Slay in the game. Worse, the second stringers got beaten down through the air, with the worst member being Bill Bentley. The Browns didn't pass for as many yards as the Jets (242 to 292) but they converted plenty of third and long situations and sprung many big gains across the middle.Even if the defensive line isn't engaging in the pocket, the backfield has to find a way to play stickier defense. Though they held up adequately against New York,
Without Calvin Johnson, Detroit's Offense Is Simply Pathetic. The first four series from the starters were just about as vanilla and clueless as it comes. The Lions ran into the line without any result, Matthew Stafford struggled to find open receivers and the offensive line even managed to look bad. Thankfully, Johnson is one of the most durable players in the NFL. If the Lions didn't have him, it would be a challenge to score even six points most games. Hope he stays healthy, Lions' fans.
Reggie Bush Looked The Part Of A Warrior. Give Bush credit for bouncing back after his personal foul penalty. In the very next drive, he literally carried the load, catching passes, running hard and making plenty of moves. Bush looked determined, and gave fans a look at what the Lions could expect with him, Johnson and Stafford on the field at the same time. When that consistently happens, expect Detroit to look much better offensively than they did in the first half on Thursday.
Looking For Another Positive? No Preseason Turnovers. Detroit giving the ball away played no role in the issues on Thursday night, nor did it last week. That's no small feat considering the different players the Lions are shuffling in and out of the lineup on a nightly basis in the preseason. At least ball security seems to have been made a point of emphasis in the offseason. If the Lions' offense manages to take care of the ball like this during the year, they will certainly be in great shape no matter how mixed the results have looked in preseason play.
Lions? In addition to Bush, Theo Riddick ran well in the fourth quarter. Ronnell Lewis had his second straight solid game on defense. Shaun Hill remains a solid backup quarterback.
Lambs? Brandon Pettigrew continues to drop easy passes in game situations. Ashlee Palmer struggled with tackling in the open field, and for as much play as Patrick Edwards saw, he should have had a bigger impact than 10 yards receiving and -2 yards rushing. Bentley, also, was routinely out of place and struggled in coverage. For all the goodwill Willie Young earned playing hard last week, he gave it back with a silly personal foul.
What About The Five Things? Tonight, we said it would be important to watch Larry Warford, and he played again, but eventually gave way to Leroy Harris. The defensive backs didn't play great at all, Matt Willis had a few nice catches but nothing noteworthy, Joique Bell got the better of Mikel Leshoure again, figuring in on more plays and the defensive ends didn't do as much to impact the game as they did last week.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions prepare for a visit from the New England Patriots next Thursday night, August 22nd at 7:30 p.m.
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