COMMENTARY | After a disappointing 2012 season in which the Detroit Lions went 4-12 and lost eight games by seven points or less, the Lions needed to set the tone in hopes of getting back to their winning ways like they did in the 2011 season.
The first preseason game on Friday, August 9, against the New York Jets saw the Lions get a touchdown on defense, something they were not able to do all of last year.
Obviously, one preseason game isn’t going to determine the fate of the season, but Lions fans have to be happy with the way their first-team offense and defense played.
Here are some observations from the Lions’ first preseason game:
Ezekiel Ansah shines in debut
A lot of questions surrounded Ezekiel Ansah when the Lions drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick. There is no doubt he is athletically gifted, but he just started playing football in 2010, and scouts were worried he wouldn’t be able to survive in the NFL having such little experience.
He may have started to prove some doubters wrong as he picked off a Mark Sanchez pass early in the first quarter and returned it 14 yards for the first score of the game.
Ansah didn’t play much in the first preseason game, but that interception along with a couple of key tackles is a good sign the rookie is quickly adapting to the speed of the NFL game.
Shaun Hill continues to impress
Shaun Hill is the quintessential backup. He’s good enough that he can come in if Matthew Stafford gets injured and keep the offense productive, but he isn’t good enough to win a starting job.
This is nothing new. Hill has been a solid backup for the Lions for the past three years, but watching him put the ball in places only his receivers can get it is reassuring should anything happen to Stafford.
Defense was good, but could be better
Another big question for the Lions coming into this season was how the defense would hold up. They were 27th in the league last year in total points allowed per game at 27.3.
The defense looked good getting pressure on Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, but it could have been better. There was a defensive breakdown on Sanchez’s touchdown pass in the first quarter that cut the Lions’ lead to 10-7.
Again, it’s the first preseason game, those breakdowns will happen, but you would rather see a defensive breakdown than guys continually getting beat by receivers.
The Lions looked good in their first preseason game, but it is only the preseason. There is only so much stock you can put into a game that doesn’t matter and features backups for a good portion of the game.