The Detroit Lions offense put up a sloppy and ineffective performance

Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford, LeGarrette Blount (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford, LeGarrette Blount (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions starting offense made mental errors that cost them points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night.

The Detroit Lions won their first game of the 2018 preseason. That doesn’t matter any more or less than the losses did though. The Lions were still just lining up and running plays to test their guys against someone else’s guys. The Buccaneers were audibling to put their guys into good situations. The Lions did nothing to counter that.

According to Bruce Arians and Trent Green on the broadcast team, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston were constantly changing plays at the line while Matthew Stafford was simply lining up and running the play.

The Lions won the game, but it was on the back of performances from players that have one more game with the organization. Week three of the preseason is the dress rehearsal for the regular season according to most. If that is the case the play is going to really suck for Lions fans.

My favorite moment from the starting offense was a first and ten scramble by Stafford. Not for the play itself, but the immediate aftermath. Stafford ran out of bounds for a short gain on the Buccaneers sideline. He found himself standing in front of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston on the bench. Stafford handed Fitzpatrick the ball and ran back onto the field. That was the highlight of the starting offense’s performance.

There was a lack of discipline and focus from the starting offense. Simple things like Marvin Jones‘ illegal formation penalty for covering the tight end on the formation are serious problems. That’s a penalty that shouldn’t be happening beyond the high school level. The result was a failed red zone trip and a field goal.

LeGarrette Blount carried the offense as far as it went, and stopped carrying it when it failed. To begin the second Quarter, the Lions were in an obvious running situation, inside their own five-yard line, and were able to get out from under their own goal line with a ten-yard run.

Hakeem Valles got some snaps with the first team, which was nice to see. He has earned with his performance to this point. On the second drive, Valles came up big with an important first down catch. Graham Glasgow had just errantly snapped a ball into a surprised Stafford’s chest on the previous play. Valles reception erased the effect of the miscue.

A pass interference call drawn by T.J. Jones got the Lions into the Red Zone. Unfortunately, they failed to take advantage of the opportunity and came away with only a field goal.

Kerryon Johnson did play a lot in the first half, but he was clearly having footing issues. He didn’t have the same cutting ability on the wet field as he normally does. He slipped and fell on a second and two carry that would have easily resulted in a first down. Stafford was sacked on third down, and the Lions punted.

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The Lions two-minute-drill seemed to consist of dumping the ball to Theo Riddick or getting sacked, all while letting the clock run down. Matt Patricia called timeout with seven seconds remaining on the clock. If the Lions had made the 62-yard field goal, they still would have had to kick the ball to the Buccaneers. They did not make it, and the Buccaneers returned the kickoff from the back of their end zone for a touchdown to close out the first half.

Matt Cassel looked good in his third game in the Lions offensive system. Leo Koloamatangi and Wesley Johnson both made a case for getting a long look as the Lions decide who to keep around at the bottom of the depth chart on the interior of their offensive line.

Brandon Powell is this year’s player that is making it very difficult to cut him. He may lose out not to another wide receiver but someone like Hakeem Valles. Powell is a solid kick returner and has been an effective slot receiver late in games for the Lions backup quarterbacks. His biggest problem is that the Lions do not need either of those things on the 53 man roster.

Ameer Abdullah and Jamal Agnew likely have the return duties locked up. The Lions have Golden Tate to work the slot, and T.J. Jones to back him up. Jones has also handled return duties in the past and has expanded his special teams role to coverage units. There just isn’t a clear path to any role on the team for Powell.

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Valles, on the other hand, has shown that he is very likely the Lions best receiving tight end. The Lions may choose to keep four tight ends rather than a fifth wide receiver. The Lions have experimented with Theo Riddick in the slot, finally recognizing that he is likely better in that role than any fifth wide receiver they might have.

Powell is playing well enough that the Lions may not be able to stash him on the practice squad, however. Other teams without deep receiving corps or without a decent return man may give Powell a full-time gig in the NFL. His Punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter will be noticed by the rest of the league.

Luke Willson, the Lions starting tight end up to this point went down with an injury and did not return. Other than that the Lions did not sustain any more injuries on offense.

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The Lions offense did not look good until well after it mattered. It was a few small missteps, however, that made the score more lopsided than it really deserved to be. The inability of the offense to finish drives was eerily familiar, but this is still just the preseason. This is when players are supposed to make stupid mistakes.