Stafford, Lions Efficient in Home Win Against Jets

Lion’s play efficient football with flashes of big play ability in their 16-6 win over the New York Jets

Detroit hosted the team’s second preseason game in the recently renovated Ford Field. The Lions did not disappoint. A 16-6 win, led by quarterback Matt Stafford’s touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, combined with a stout first team defensive performance, were a few of the positives observed against the New York Jets.

Stafford and The Offense

QB Matthew Stafford was limited to a few snaps last week. It was not quite the drive he had hoped for, as a tipped pass led to an interception ended the positive drive. Week two was much improved. Stafford finished 8/10 for 84 yards and a touchdown pass. He provided the second team with a 10-0 before his day was done.

Overall, Stafford and his receiving corps appeared very much in sync. There were a few timing routes where he hit his receivers in stride. The two incompletions were both on throws slightly behind the receiver. One of which was a throw Stafford made under duress.

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Detroit fans were excited to see how the offensive line would gel with new addition TJ Lang receiving his first game reps as a Lion. Lang performed well and the offensive line appeared about average overall. There were a few breakdowns leading to a sack and quarterback pressure.

The run game was efficient and showed signs of explosion. Running backs received significant carries had runs of eight or more yards. Potential big gains were halted by arm tackles.

It was great to see signs of life from the running game. Even a slight improvement will allow Stafford & company a chance to become a more balanced offense. Strength running and passing the football has not been seen in Detroit in many years.

Defense

The first team defense came close to forcing two turnovers in the first quarter. Cornelius Washington went untouched and drilled Jets’ QB Christian Hackenberg on his first passing play, leading to a fumble.

The following drive, Nevin Lawson deflected a pass up in the air that went right through Glover Quin’s hands. The defense looked quick and appeared to be in the right positions throughout the game. There were no instances in which a player was beat and was blessed by a poor throw or read.

The defense flashed signs of the 2014 Lions defense that finished second in the NFL. New York, by no means, does not have a high-powered offense. However, New England will provide a bigger challenge. A strong showing against the Patriots could evidence truth to this claim.

Battle for Roster Spots

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A few players continued their strong play in the second half, fighting for both a roster spot and playing time. A 2016 undrafted free agent, wide receiver Jace Billingsley is becoming extremely popular among Detroit Lions’ fan pages. He is a Cole Beasley-type of receiver. He uses his small stature to get open in space. Billingsley made a few very nice plays, including a screen pass that  made two defenders miss en route to an 11-yard gain.

Michael Roberts, the rookie tight end out of Toledo, also was effective in the passing game. Roberts finished with two catches for 29 yards, including a 22-yard reception that was one of the more highlight-reel plays of the game. Those kind of catches are the reason the Lions went after Roberts. His 6’ 4” frame will add another red zone target for Stafford to find. It will be interesting to see if he receives first team reps over the next few weeks in  two-TE sets.

The first team units, both offensive and defensive, were very efficient and showed signs of big play ability, something the Lions lacked down the stretch last season. Additionally, younger players on both sides of the ball are fighting hard for roster spots. A few of the rookie class continue paving their way to earning serious playing time come the regular season.

Week three in the preseason is generally when starters play the most. The Super Bowl champs head to the motor city to provide the Lions their toughest challenge thus far.