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Game One: What I Saw…and What I Did Not

As I have said in the past, I’ll leave the beat reporting to Tom Kowalski. Instead, I’ll try and give you a different take on last night’s preseason game. Though last year’s preseason reminded us all just how meaningless these first for games really are, they are important none the less. All in all, I was pretty impressed with these “new-look” Lions.

  • Though trivial compared to the product on the field, I was really, really happy with the cosmetic changes made this off season. The field looked fantastic, particularly the type face in the end zones. The increased use of Honolulu Blue in the uniforms looked brilliant, and the numbers looked better than I expected.
  • The starting offensive line looks improved, and a lot bigger. Stephen Peterman and Daniel Loper are both large, but athletic men and should be effective as power run blockers or as pull-blockers. Dominic Raiola looks a lot bigger, yet just as fleet of foot. He was able to get into the second level with halfback Kevin Smith and block down field – the key to long runs. The tight-end help given to Jeff Backus really helped him, though he did get blown up twice…late enough that it had little effect on the play. I didn’t notice Gosder Cherilus, which tells me that that second year tackle was doing his job just fine.
  • Kevin Smith is going to thrive as a power back. His vision is very impressive.
  • Both Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford should not be evaluated to greatly after this game. Missing receivers Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt and John Standeford really hurt…as witnessed by the dropped ball clinic that Kerry Colbert put on.
  • Derrick Williams is going to be a fine receiver…he showed some very good hands.
  • I thought the special teams units looked a lot better. If I had to make the decision today, I’d have Williams return punts and Aaron Brown return kicks. Both were explosive and gained more yards than Lions returners have in some time.
  • I would have liked to see Jerome Felton carry the ball, as we expected him to. A balance between the shiftiness of Kevin Smith and the speed of Aaron Brown is key to an effective running game, and a power back give the team that. Allen Ervin gave an admirable effort , but Felton needs to be given his shot.
  • I felt like the defensive line got good push during the first few series. Those were tackles Landon Cohen and Sammie Hill. Both are big guys, and did a great job of using their strength and mass to drive through gaps. Shaun Smith was effective later in the game, and I can’t wait to see him rotate into that starting group. Add Grady Jackson to that list and you have some seriously large men.
  • Anthony Henry needs to remain at corner. He was outstanding in his run support assignments, and was effective near the scrimmage line. Phillip Buchanan isn’t afraid to hit either. Kalvin Pearson, however, seems to be. I’d almost rather they keep Stuart Schweigart than Pearson.
  • Coach Cunningham ran a lot of “over” and “under”, bringing the SAM or WILL backer down near the line of scrimmage. Julian Peterson is going to thrive in those situations. He’s a playmaker.
  • DeAndre Levy looks strong and effective at MIKE. If the rookies continue to show like they did during this first game, this will turn out to be an outstanding draft.

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2 Responses to “Game One: What I Saw…and What I Did Not”

  1. Colleen says:

    My one concern is a receiver? Although most of ours our hurt, Colbert DROPPED every single pass from Stafford. Nice way to welcome our #1 Draft pick into the NFL. Our offensive line did look nice, but my concern is still protecting the QB. When Culpepper rolled out of the pocket, he had a lot more pressure than I would have liked to have seen. The running game was good – better than the past. Defense – stronger and bigger, yet I ask…what was with the player pointing to the field every time he made a play??? I look forward to this week’s game.

  2. Hey man, great observations and article! Once again your coach’s eye provides some inside views to things that most don’t usually catch..

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