Skip to main content

O'HARA: Notable developments from Lions' second preseason game

It's nice for the Detroit Lions to be unbeaten after two preseason games, no matter who they've beaten and how they've done it.

The two victories – on the road against the Colts in the opener and over the Jets at Ford Field Saturday night – were against two teams with severe offensive problems. They are teams the Lions should have beaten – preseason or regular season – and they did.

The notable development from the 2-0 record is that because of the schedule, the Lions are set up for a genuine test against the New England Patriots at Ford Field on Friday night. Game 3 of the preseason is the dress rehearsal for the regular season, and there's no better opponent to share the spotlight with than the Patriots.

It's not a tell-all game that will predict the future for the 2017 season, but it's a good measuring stick for where the Lions stand for the regular season.

There were some good developments for the Lions against the Jets – the offensive line, sacks from two key players on the defensive line, another strong game by punter Kasey Redfern, limited play by rookie Kenny Golladay was expected, and the return game is still open.

But looking ahead topped the list, as follows:

Dress rehearsal: "Next week is going to give us another opportunity to see where we are," Head coach Jim Caldwell said after the game.

"Perennially, they've been maybe the best team in the league, year in, year out. That'll be a great test for us. We're looking forward to that."

It's more than a physical matchup. The Patriots are smart and disciplined, which lets them give opponents different looks on offense and defense.

"They're very smart in what they do," Caldwell said. "They don't make many mistakes. Our guys are going to have to measure up to play well against them."

The trenches: Having the starting offensive line in the game was one of the most notable developments of the game for the Lions. Right guard T. J. Lang played for the first time. He was the first to depart – after Matthew Stafford's TD pass to Marvin Jones Jr. in the first minute of the second quarter.

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' preseason Week 2 game vs. New York Jets.

Stafford was sacked once and took one hard hit – on his TD pass to Jones– but otherwise felt comfortable playing behind what will be his starting line on opening day.

Stafford completed eight out of 10 passes for 84 yards and the one TD to Jones. His passer rating for his abbreviated performance was 135.0.

A high passer rating for the starting quarterback should translate to a passing grade for his line.

"It was good," Stafford said. "We don't watch a ton of tape (for a preseason game). Those offensive linemen don't study the defensive linemen like they would in a regular game week, so it's obviously a little hit and miss.

"But when the pocket was good, man, it was really good. And that was fun."

Tracking Kenny Golladay: Wasn't it a given that the rookie receiver would light up the stats sheet after being targeted four times in the opener and catching three passes for 53 yards?

Actually, it was more overreaction from one good game than reality.

He did not start against the Jets and caught the only ball thrown his way for a six-yard gain in the second half.

Sack time: The defensive line has been largely overlooked compared to the focus on the offensive line the last two years. There's been more talk about who's missing because of injuries than who's playing.

But there were encouraging signs from two veteran free agents who were signed to play key rotation roles. Tackle Akeem Spence and left end Cornelius Washington both sacked Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the firt half.

Washington flattened Hackenberg on the third play of the game, forcing a fumble that the Jets recovered. Spence's sack was on a bull rush up the middle.

Special teams: Good, bad and wondering:

The good was punter Kasey Redfern. He had a second straight good game: Six punts, 44.5-yard gross average, 41.3 net and two inside the 20. Redfern is giving the Lions insurance while Sam Martin recovers from an injury.

The bad was an offside penalty that nullified a fumble recovery by Steve Longa on the Jets' kickoff return after Stafford's TD pass to Jones had given the Lions a 10-0 lead.

And the wondering is who has the lead on returns. TJ Jones returned the first three punts, for an average of six yards per return. Keshawn Martin had one return for 22 yards. Rookie Jamal Agnew had one return for six yards.

The return job could go down to the last preseason game.

Defense on guard: Regardless of when it happened – in the preseason, or who it happened against – the Colts and Jets with offensively challenged teams  -- it means something to the Lions' defense to protect the end zone.

The Lions have not given up a touchdown in two preseason games with time on the clock. The Colts scored their only TD a week ago as time ran out. The Jets were held to two field goals in Saturday night's 16-6 loss.

Starting cornerback Nevin Lawson had long since departed to the sideline when the backups kept the Jets out of the end zone, but it still meant something to him.

"It's big," he said. "As a defense we take pride in not letting other teams score. That's very important."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content