Burning questions – the defense awakens, the offense shows vulnerability at a key position, and a rookie tight end makes a statement – in the Lions’ 40-9 victory over the Patriots Thursday night.
And lest we forget – dreadful penalties continue unchecked.
Q. Turnover turnaround: The defense forced four turnovers in the first half, making the Lions plus six in the preseason through the first two games and the first half of Game 3. What does that represent?
A. Everything has to be prefaced by saying it is only the preseason, and the scores don’t count. But the fact that the four turnovers in the first half came when Tom Brady was at quarterback means something.
The offense has to do more than it did with those turnovers, but strictly from the defense’s side, it was a good performance against the Patriots, and generally a good start in the preseason.
Q. Front four stoppers: The defensive line has been made over at end, with rookie Ziggy Ansah at right end and veteran
A. Once again, sticking to the first half, the starters dominated the Patriots up front. New ‘England ran 18 times for 32 yareds.
Jones stood out, sacking Brady twice and adding three tackles-for-losses. On consecutive possessions late in the first half, Ansah was in on a stop on a fourth and one, and Suh made a stop when the Patriots had third and four at their seven. That forced a punt.
Q. Suh swap: What was special about Suh’s tackle on that play?
A. It didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, except that Suh moved from tackle to left end and crashed down to his right to make the stop. The Patriots couldn’t block him.
Everything we’ve seen in training camp and the first three preseason games points to Suh having a big season.
Q. Making (some) points: The No. 1 offense scored its first touchdown of the preseason on
Nate Burleson, who’s supposed to be the No. 2 receiver, caught one pass for six yards, and it’s his only catch of the preseason. Stafford went to him three times, and on the two incomplete passes he got no separation from the defensive back. Until shown otherwise, there has to be some concern that Burleson hasn’t fully regained his quickness from a broken leg that ended his season a year ago.
Q. Bush: Did he show what he can add to the offense?
A. Yes. He did that on the sixth play of the first possession, turning a screen pass into a 67-yard gain for a first down at the 13. The possession fizzled, forcing the Lions to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Bush wound up with five catches for 103 yards. He also carried six times and for a net gain of one yard.
Q. A good Joe: Rookie tight end Joe Fauria was signed as a free agent after not being drafted. Did he help his status by catching a TD pass in the second half?
A. It didn’t hurt anything, that’s for sure. He had a good game, and not just with the TD catch. Fauria has terrific hands, and he played in a big-time program at UCLA. He hasn’t been awed by the transition to the pros. A lot will depend on how the Lions balance the number of receivers and tight ends they keep on the final 53-player roster.
A. None. Fairley and Mosley both got their penalties on late hits after the Lions had recovered fumbles. Mosley’s turned first and goal at the four to first down at the 19, and that ended in a field goal.
The hardest personal foul to explain was Young’s penalty in the second quarter for taunting Tom Brady after an incomplete pass. Young had two penalties on one play last week and apparently didn’t learn from them.
What exactly Willie Young – and most other young defensive players -- has to say to Tom Brady, with his three Super Bowl rings and certain passage into the Hall of Fame, leaves me at a loss for words.
I have to settle for three letters: SMH.