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Gameday Matchup: Favre vs. Lions' Secondary
Nate Caminata - LionsFans.com
As the Lions enter their season opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, problems arise immediately concerning the physical well-being of the team's defensive secondary, and how badly Packers' legend/future hall-of-famer/insurmountable quarterback Brett Favre will exploit it.
With veteran free safety Kurt Schulz unavailable until mid-season, cornerback Bryant Westbrook out for at least two more weeks, and strong safety Ron Rice questionable entering the contest, Favre could not only be licking his chops prior to the game, but finishing off the main course before the first half is completed.
Favre, who enters the regular season healthy for the first time in two-years, had an outstanding training camp, solid pre-season, and has the same tools around him to assist in dismantling would-be defenses.
The Green Bay backfield will be manned by two-man team Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green. Levens, who will be donning a protective cast, isn't expected to be affected by a hand injury, but Green will still see the bulk of the plays. Favre will also be flanked by veteran wide receivers Antonio Freeman and Bill Shroeder -- both very talented athletes. Tight end Bubba Franks, last year's first round pick, is another weapon in Favre's arsenal.
Obviously, if the Lions hope to stay competitive, and at least make this matchup worthwhile, then each facet of the Lions defense will have to be productive -- especially the secondary. The Lions' defensive line, who will be lining up across a solid Packers' offensive line, has to put pressure on Favre and hit him as often as possible. Favre looses confidence and control if he is hit consistently, but reaching him is the difficult task.
The secondary's task can be lessened significantly if Favre can not only be pressured, but hit.
Also, Favre utilizes the West Coast offense to its max, so he enjoys picking through linebackers and cornerbacks covering short routes, and does so in near perfect fashion. When he feels in control, Favre will then stretch the defense and send the receivers deep. With the Lions lack of talent in the secondary, the game will be over at that point. The Lions' linebacker crew, including speedster Barrett Green (who will see some playing time), can't give Favre many looks at short routes, and has to prevent him from picking apart the defense.
If Detroit can negate the big play, and prevent Favre from picking his way through the defense at will, the Lions' West Coast offense will be able to keep up with the Packers' West Coast offense.
Just don't forget that this game is being played in Brett Favre's backyard. Easier said than done.