The Detroit Lions opened the Matt Patricia era with a 16-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The first team on offense and defense did not get to see much action, but a glimpse into what the depth chart could possibly look like was one of the main attractions for Patricia and his staff. Here are a few takeaways from the Lions preseason opener.
First things first – the Lions better hope Matthew Stafford stays healthy this season, as backups Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock did not show any flashes during the game. Stafford didn’t play Friday to avoid any possible injuries. The field at Oakland Alameda Coliseum is still in it’s baseball configuration, and there were a few slips on the turf. The Lions did not want to risk anything with their franchise quarterback. The play of the backups left something else to be desired. Rudock and Cassel had even numbers on the stat sheet, however Cassel was sacked three times for a total loss of 20 yards. Rudock was only sacked once. Rudock had 19 completions for 84 yards, while Cassel had ten completions for 81 yards. More will need to be seen from these two in the coming preseason games.
The rushing game showed significant improvements, and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter had some nice run plays in his playbook. Making his professional debut since being drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft, Kerryon Johnson had a nice start to his NFL career. He had 34 yards on seven carries, and had his longest rush at 13 yards. Free agent signee LeGarrette Blount had 21 yards on five rushes in minimal work. Ameer Abdullah had the Lions lone touchdown and 16 rushing yards. Offensively, the Lions need a strong rushing corps to compete in the NFC North.
The receivers saw the ball spread around a lot, but an ineffective passing game from the quarterbacks made this group difficult to judge. Starter Golden Tate had one catch for 11 yards, while undrafted signee Brandon Powell had 34 yards on five catches. The tight ends were virtually nonexistent, as they had no catches on two throws at them.
The defense struggled all game to contain the Raiders offense. Backup quarterback Connor Cook looked like a star against this defense, going 11 for 14 with 141 yards. He also through a touchdown. The pass rush was virtually nonexistent. End Ezekiel Ansah did not play however, but none of the backups did anything to show the league’s worst pass rush improved this offseason. The run defense will also need to improve in the next few preseason games. They allowed Oakland to rush for 147 yards on 31 attempts and get nine first downs on running plays. The secondary was the only bright spot on the defense. The two leading tacklers for the team were in the secondary – safety Rolan Milligan had eight, while cornerback DeShawn Shead had six tackles. The secondary gave up 198 passing yards, but didn’t give any big passes.
Head coach Matt Patricia has a lot to do in the next week to get the defense ready for their next preseason test,a home game against the New York Giants. As more first stringers are expected to play, we may get a better gauge of how this team can play this season. More will need to be seen from the defense and from the backup quarterbacks.