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5 things to watch: Lions vs. Jets

It is finally time for all the talk and speculation to come to an end. The Detroit Lions finally get to strap it up for real and kick off the Matt Patricia era on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience.

These are unfamiliar foes, having played only 13 times in the history of both franchises, so there will be a feeling-out period in this game, especially early on.

Here's a look at five things to watch as the Lions kick off their regular season hosting the Jets.


The word "multiple" has been a key word this offseason when talking about Detroit's new defensive schemes under Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.

The Lions, like all teams in the preseason, gave fans a pretty vanilla look at their defense, so as not to tip their hand to regular season opponents. Tonight, we get our first real look at the capabilities of this defense and all of its moving parts.

How do the Lions deploy Pro Bowl edge rusher Ziggy Ansah? Will he roam around like he said he would this offseason? What kind of weapon can outside linebacker Devon Kennard be coming off the other edge? What kind of encore season can Darius Slay have to his All-Pro campaign in 2017? How improved will middle linebacker Jarrad Davis be in year two?

The Jets can run the football, and they have some weapons in the passing game on the perimeter.

There were a lot of offseason questions surrounding the Lions' new defense, and we will start to get answers tonight.


There was considerable time and resources spent this offseason by Lions GM Bob Quinn and his staff to revamp a Detroit rushing attack that ranked last in the NFL a year ago, and frankly hasn't been good enough for some time now.

The additions of LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson have fans hopeful they won't have to rely solely on Matthew Stafford's right arm.

Monday night will be a good test for this revamped Lions rushing attack. The Jets have a very good front seven, and have ranked seventh in the NFL from 2015-17 in rushing yards per game allowed (100.1), fourth in yards per carry allowed (3.79) and fifth with only 28 rushing touchdowns against them.


At the tender age of just 21, the Jets rookie signal caller will become the youngest Week 1 starting quarterback in the modern era of the NFL. He won the job over veteran Josh McCown, so the Jets obviously feel he's ready. He's big, strong, can make all the throws and seems poised beyond his years.

It will be up to Patricia, Pasqualoni and the veteran Lions secondary to confuse the rookie and force him to make mistakes.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said this week he just wants Darnold to play within himself. Can Detroit's front seven pressure him and speed up his clock?

Can the Lions spoil the rookie's NFL debut?


The Lions and Jets haven't played a regular-season game against one another since 2014. They aren't familiar foes to begin with, then add the unknown element of it being Week 1 to the mix, and it's a pretty safe bet each team can expect the unexpected.

There are formations, coverages and trick plays that have yet to show up on film. Every team self-evaluates in the offseason, mixes things up, and makes changes other teams have yet to see.

The teams that win in Week 1 are those that usually do the better job adjusting on the fly.


With the Lions moving on from former first-round pick Eric Ebron in the offseason, it left a void in Detroit's offense for a playmaking tight end. Luke Willson, Michael Roberts and Hakeem Valles hope to step up and fill the void in the passing game. Levine Toilolo is more of a blocking tight end.

No one really stepped up in the preseason and showed they could be that big-play threat. In this offense, with the weapons the Lions have at the receiver position and a quarterback who can make all the throws, the tight end is going to see a lot of single coverage. Can one or more of these tight ends step up and take advantage of a very big opportunity to play an important role for the offense in 2018?

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