OPINION: Lions in Position to Own Division

There's no reason to be overly concerned about the Lions 0-2 record so far in the preseason, writes insider Mike Fowler. It would be nice if the ball club could finally hop into the "W" column sometime before the regular season starts - preferably next Monday night against the St. Louis Rams - but there are just a few things this team needs to iron out now to avoid calamity later.

ALLEN PARK - There's no reason to be overly concerned about the Lions 0-2 record so far in the preseason. It would be nice if the Lions finally get around to getting into the "W" column sometime before the regular season starts - preferably this Monday night against the St. Louis Rams - but there are just a few things this teams need to iron out now to avoid calamity later.

TIGHTEN UP ON DEFENSE: Ever since the departure of former Lions great Robert Porcher, teams have figured out that they can run on the Lions undersized defensive ends, James Hall, Cory Redding and Kalimba Edwards.

Particularly when Edwards was the starter, teams figured out they could pound sweeps and off-tackle plays his direction because he couldn't hold the point of attack. So Detroit made the bigger Redding the starter and made Edwards a situational pass rusher. But still the running plays came.

The New York Jets were able to run the ball well a week ago against Detroit, running up 100 yards on 21 carries. This week, Detroit pinned the Browns back on their own five-yard line, but then the Browns put together a 62-yard drive - a lot of it on the ground - against the Detroit first stringers, a drive that ended with a missed field goal attempt.

Lions' strong side linebacker Boss Bailey reassures us that the Lions haven't started scheming or game planning for any team's offensive attack and yet, you'd like to see, even when they're playing 'vanillla', tighten it up a little and shut some teams down.

IMPROVE IN THE RED ZONE: If Joey Harrington had held the ball one more beat on the Lions red zone possession in the first quarter, he probably would have seen Lions tight end Casey FitzSimmons standing all alone on the goal line for a sure touchdown, but the read to Roy Williams wasn't bad either. Harrington was a bit late, according to coach Steve Mariucci, with the throw.

That's the rub in the red zone, you have to be decisive - one way or the other - because timing is critical when you have limited space to punch the ball in.

Again, the Lions are going strictly 'vanilla' in these pre-season games and have much more they can throw against opposing teams, but it would be nice on Monday night to show some firepower and some efficiency when they do get into the red zone.

OVERALL: The fact that this team hasn't won a preseason game doesn't worry me. This is still the most talented Lions team in the last ten years and with Green Bay and Chicago both in flux, Detroit should fight it out with Minnesota for the division title this season and be in position to own the division the next five years.

All they have to do now is get it done.

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