Mornhinweg knows that he has to improve on last season's 2-14 record to stay around another season in Detroit. And, although this is JUST the preseason, Detroit's coach would like to build momentum with a strong preseason heading into the season opener against Miami.
Offensively Detroit would like:
....for quarterback Mike McMahon to be be fluid, decisive and effective.
Detroit does not want to see the overly cautious version of McMahon that has shown up for most of the training camp.
Detroit wants McMahon to move the team consistently and put some points on the board. They may also try to get some reps for veteran Ty Detmer to avoid stoking the flames of a full blown quarterback controversy should the talented Joey Harrington light up Baltimore's stripped-down defense.
"My thought is that Mike and Joey will play most of this game," Mornhinweg said. "Ty (Detmer) may see one or two series. We're eager, we're real eager. It's time to play against somebody else. You can see by the way we're moving the ball. We're trying to liven it up a little bit."
...for running back James Stewart to get about 40-50 yards in about 8 carries and then get out of the game.
The Lions want to take a look at Avieon Cason, James Mungro and Jonas Lewis.
They would have liked to get a look at Luke Staley, but Staley has been ruled out of this game by Mornihweg. Staley has been given the eviqualent of a "put up or shut up" ultimatum. He was told my team doctors he has three choices, play with a brace, have surgery or retire.
"Option one is to put the brace on and play," Mornhinweg said following practice Wednesday. "No. 2 is to redo that ACL plus make it a little better. The third is just to retire. So, he has three options and he is going to ponder it. "I talked to him briefly this morning. He is going to put the brace on and do some straight-ahead running to test it out."
....to see their receivers catch the ball in live action against a pretty good secondary.
Az Hakim, Bill Schroeder and Scotty Anderson have the roster made, as does the injured Germane Crowell. Detroit wants to see Desmond Howard, Larry Foster, Eddie Drummond, Pierre Brown and others to see who has a shot at the special teams and practice squad.
... Finally, Detroit wants to improve their blocking.
They'll be watching closely to see how their offensive line, probably without Stockar McDougle holds up against the Ravens defensive front. Fortunately, the Ravens sack specialist Peter Boulware has been ruled out and linebacker Ray Lewis is scheduled for just a series or two.
Detroit's tight ends will be under the microscope because the unit of Mikhael Ricks, Matt Murphy and John Owens will have to pick up the slack in max protect. Watch this one closely, if Lions quarterbacks are sacked more than three times tonight, watch out. Defensively
Detroit is very concerned about their ability to stop the run. Detroit had a tough time stopping running attacks last season. If Detroit can slow opposing ground attacks and make teams one-dimensional, they'll have a better chance of reversing time of possession, a statistic that was a major factor in losses last season.
Defensively, Detroit would like to see .... a great run stopping effort.
Shaun Rogers is out of this one, so Detroit will have Luther Elliss and likely Jared DeVries inside. Robert Porcher will likely play just one quarter opposite James Hall, so watch the revamped front seven under new defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer closely.
"They are a talented team. They have as talented of a front four as maybe anyone in the league right now," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "I'll take any team in the NFL. There's no team in the NFL that you would go, whew, glad we're playing those guys. It just doesn't exist."
Detroit's new scheme gives up the defensive tackles to allow pro-bowl caliber linebacker Chris Claiborne to make tackles. If the scheme works, Claiborne should make four to five tackles in a quarter and Baltimore should be gaining more yardage through the air than on the ground. ...third round draft pick Andre Goodman show that he's a player.
Goodman has been better than expected once he put on the pads. Goodman has amazing quickness and the ability to mirror a receiver's moves. He turns fluidly out of a backpedal, so Detroit will likely play Goodman and fellow rookie fifth round pick Chris Cash a lot. Cash has been disappointing and right now is on the bubble. Corners Eric Davis, Todd Lyght and Terry Fair are already penciled in for a roster spot.
....their special teams play well.
When you're a 2-14 team, field position is huge. Detroit needs a great year out of John Jett, who's getting long in the tooth. Jett must reverse field position when the Lions are in trouble by pinning opposing offenses inside their own 20, something he had trouble doing last season. Summary. Detroit wants to win this game. When you lose 14 games in one season, you need wins where ever you can find them, including the preseason. Detroit will do what they can to win this one, including playing some of their contributors late into the third quarter. Baltimore will be a good first test for Detroit on the road.
When you're watching this one, key in on the offensive line and how well they protect. On the defense watch to see if Detroit is able to stop the run.
OUT: Michael McCrary-DE, Peter Boulware-LB, Chester Taylor-RB, Anthony Weaver-DE, Gary Baxter-DB.
OUT: Jeff Backus-T, Luke Staley-RB, Terry Fair-CB, Shaun Rogers-DT,Anthony Herron-DE, Brian Williams-LB, Germane Crowell-WR, Matt Joyce-OL.
QUESTIONABLE: Desmond Howard-WR/KR; Az-Zahir Hakim.