The Detroit Lions visited the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field for an epic Week 2 pre-season clash. The Redskins won the game 21-17 but the Lions starters looked dominant in the first half building a 10-0 lead with the starters.
Matt Stafford played two drives and looked sharp going 6/8 for 78 yards. Both incompletes could be drops by Corey Fuller. Stafford looks much more comfortable in the second year of the Lombardi offense. Stafford connected to Golden Tate for 19 yards on a 3rd and 12 and hit Jeremy Ross for 21 yards. The drive stalled due to a holding penalty by Cornelius Lucas on a run and a coverage sack. Matt Prater nailed a 49 yard field goal with ease.
The second drive the Lions started at their own 15 yard line after a holding penalty on the punt return by Abdullah. After the illegal hands to the face penalty for five free yards for Detroit, Stafford threw strikes to Ebron for 13 yards and fullback Michael Burton for 14 yards to move into Washington territory. Corey Fuller dropped a 3rd down pass in Redskin territory to end the drive after two three yard runs by Detroit. The pass was slightly behind Fuller on a crossing route but needs to be caught. Stafford moved the ball well but the drive stalled. Stafford has had a great training camp and strong pre-season. Will it continue into the regular season?
Pass Rush Dominance
The Lions starting defensive line and blitzers looked dominate even without Haloti Ngata and Jason Jones. The Redskins were missing left tackle Trent Williams but pressure came from everywhere. Griffen dropped back 8 times and was sacked 3 times. Griffen fumbled twice on those sacks but the third sack, Griffen just dropped the ball. This was most likely out of fear.
Griffen was hit on 3 of his 5 passing attempts including soul crushing blows by DeAndre Levy and Phillip Hunt. Another pass was batted down by Tahir Whitehead on a delayed blitz. Tyrunn Walker showed extreme power on a bull rush to beat rookie Brandon Scherff to combine with Ziggy Ansah for the first sack. Defensive Tackle Jermelle Cudjo had the second sack after Phillip Hunt got good pressure and forced him to step up in the pocket.
The Redskins had only 14 total yards through four series. This was domination by Detroit.
Defensive Tackle Carraun Reid hurt his ankle on the second snap of the game. Right Guard Larry Warford also hurt his ankle on the second drive. These are two important Lions’ that hopefully can recover quickly.
Dan Orlovsky looked much better than Kellen Moore in his turn as the second string QB. Orlovsky should be the Lions backup QB. Orlovsky went 13/17 for 168 yards and 2 TDs. Dan O has a stronger arm than Moore and more experience. Moore is a liability despite good decisions.
WTF Second and Third String Defense
The Lions second and third units were terrible. No pass rush was created. Coverage was terrible, especially in the middle of the field. Many penalties were made to extend Redskins long drives.
Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins are good backup QBs and they carved up the Lions backups. There is a lot of work to be done with the second and third units. Larry Webster and Kyle Van Noy were very disappointing. The second year 4th round pick Webster offered no pass rush or run defense. Van Noy had trouble in coverage and angles. Nickel back Nevin Lawson had a roughing the passer on late hit to extend the first Redskins TD drive. Rookie Gabe Wright had problems in run defense getting pushed around with ease and had illegal hands to the face penalty. The Lions need to fix these problems quickly.
Zach Zenner is having a great pre-season. He hits holes hard with great vision and gets good yards after contact. He had a nice 45 yard run called back after a holding penalty. Zenner showed his receiving chops adding 54 yards and a 5 yard TD. Zenner should be the Lions 4th back but George Winn could get the job due to special teams. It would be a shame if the Lions lost Zenner.
The first team run game struggled. Riddick and Abdullah did not repeat their performances against the Jets. They both had good vision and ran hard but the run blocking was poor. Warford’s injury didn’t help matters. The interior offensive line and Cornelius Lucas all had run blocking problems Thursday night. Lucas was called for a hold that helped stall the Lions first drive for a FG. Detroit has work to do in the run game.
The Lions had more positives than negatives in Week 2. The first string looked dominant. Hopefully, the injuries to Reid and Warford are minor ankle injuries. Detroit should game plan more for the third pre-season game as the “dress rehearsal” game for the regular season. Detroit travels to Jacksonville next Friday for a nationally televised game on CBS. The first string run game and second and third string defense will need to rebound. The Lions first unit will look to continue their pre-season dominance and build confidence for the regular season. Real football is getting closer. I can taste it.