Observations from Lions 27-26 loss to Raiders

Notes and analysis on the Detroit Lions Week 2 preseason matchup against the Oakland Raiders

The Detroit Lions wrapped up week two of their preseason schedule with a 27-26 loss to the Raiders in Oakland.

Here are some notes and observations from the game:

  • It goes without saying that quarterback Matthew Stafford was sharp.  He hit 9 of 10 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns.  His lone incompletion came when he felt pressure – perhaps a bit prematurely – and put a high pass in Reggie Bush’s hands.  The pass wasn’t perfect but it was catchable.
  • Stafford displayed strong decision making, good awareness and – for the most part – outstanding accuracy.  If this is the Stafford the Lions will get in the regular season, it would be a major disappointment if the team didn’t make the playoffs.
  • The Lions have an embarrassment of riches at tight end. First-round pick Eric Ebron has been an inconsistent blocker – he mostly struggled in that category Friday night but has flashed skill in practice – but showed his fluidness and athleticism, hauling in two passes for 36 yards.  Brandon Pettigrew wasn’t targeted in the game and should be less of a factor in the passing game this year but serves a valuable role as a receiver defenses have to consider and a strong inline blocker.  Lastly, Joe Fauria – despite not being targeted in the game – continued to show his offseason improvements in the blocking game and locked strong against the Raiders.
  • New head coach Jim Caldwell has done a great job in earning the respect of his locker room.  He likely took that a notch higher when he took the advice of Travis Lewis and challenged a ruling on the field that Lewis had touched the ball after a punt.  The challenge resulted in the Lions gaining 7 yards of field position and was a product of a coach trusting his player.
  • A strong indicator of which players may fill depth roles for a team is who plays on special teams.  This bodes well for two bubble players – safety Isa Abdul-Ouddus and running back George Winn.  Abdul-Ouddus played gunner on the punt coverage team’s first unit while Winn covered kickoffs and did well – even making a special teams tackle.
  • LaAdrian Waddle struggled as the starting right tackle.  He was called early for a holding penalty and missed some blocks resulting in failed plays on offense.  Waddle is in a battle for the starting job with Corey Hilliard, who seems to be gradually pulling away in this competition.
  • Rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy looked good for a second consecutive week.  The Lions have thrown a lot at him, lining him up on the line of scrimmage, blitlizng him from an outside linebacker spot or even dropping him into coverage.  The second-round selection looks comfortable in all situations and contributed two tackles – including a tackle in space on wide receiver Rob Streater.
  • Cornerback Chris Greenwood – who is in a battle for a roster spot – showed well Friday night.  He finished with a tackle and a pass defended – a play that saw Greenwood one-on-one with veteran wideout James Jones in the end zone.
  • Caldwell has been adamant that the Lions wouldn’t be a team that shoots themselves in the foot.  That wasn’t the case Friday night.  The Lions lost by one point, after failing to convert on their first extra point attempt of the game and giving up 4 points after the Raiders were given a free first down when the Lions had 12 players on the field while the Raiders converted a long field goal.  Instead of giving up 3 on that drive, the Lions surrendered 7.  In all, the Lions had 11 penalties for 74 yards.

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