The New England Patriots and Detroit Lions will be squaring off today at 7:30 p.m. ET, and Week 3 of the preseason is the time when the starters play the most. There are some great players on the Lions who will provide early tests and lessons for a relatively young Patriots team, and it will be interesting to see how the Pats fare out against the likes of Ndamukong Suh.
Zac Snyder runs our excellent Detroit Lions blog SideLion Report, and you can follow him on Twitter here. He was kind enough to answer five questions about the Lions for us, and you can view my answers to his five questions right here.
1. The Lions had plenty of issues in the secondary last season, and I was very impressed with one signing they made to upgrade the safety position. Glover Quin was a solid player for the Houston Texans, and I know the Lions defensive coordinator has been happy with Quin. How has he looked so far in August and what do you expect out of him next season? How much better is the secondary this year?
Quin has pretty much been as advertised although it is hard to get a really good read in limited action. He will be a much needed solidifying force in the back end of the secondary no matter what happens with Louis Delmas. If he can play his solid all-around game like he did in Houston, the Lions secondary will be much improved. The other key will be the development of young corners like rookie Darius Slay and Bill Bentley in his second year. Their play will ultimately determine how much better the Lions secondary is this year.
2. Sticking with the secondary, is Darius Slay locked into a starting job? I want to see how the Patriots rookie WRs do against Slay in coverage, because it will be a good test for both guys.
Yeah, I fully expect Slay to start at cornerback opposite Chris Houston. Ron Bartell has been getting some first team reps as well but it looks like Slay’s job to lose, which he shows no intentions of doing.
3. I’m keeping an eye out on Ryan Broyles for fantasy purposes, because I think he has a big year ahead of him as a talented No. 2 WR in the Lions offense. How often do you think the Lions will throw it to Broyles and how healthy does he look?
I’m really high on Broyles although he hasn’t shown much yet in the preseason. Fortunately that is mostly because the team is just being cautious with him by holding him out of the first game before playing limited snaps in the second. Broyles declared himself healthy and he hasn’t missed much practice time so there is a good chance he picks up where he left of last year before his most recent knee injury. He was finding holes in the defense and starting to become a real threat for the Lions offense.
4. Let’s talk about a couple of young offensive lineman in Larry Warford and LaAdrian Waddle, who have impressed me this offseason. What have you seen out of these two thus far? What will their roles be for the Lions?
The Lions have been splitting reps a lot of ways at right guard but Larry Warford is generally considered the favorite to win the starting job. The Lions have given him more preseason snaps than any other candidate and he’s done well when in the game. It is becoming clear he is their best option at right guard.
Waddle is quietly turning into a very good story. He joined the team as an undrafted free agent that mostly went under the radar but he looks like a solid bet to make the final roster. The Lions will certainly carry four tackles and Waddle is in position to be number four thanks to solid play in practice and preseason games. That might mean he isn’t actually active on gameday but he may prove to be a good find down the road.
5. Time to cut to the chase. How good is the Lions team going to be and how good is the man behind center?
I wish I had a solid answer. The potential is there, it’s just a matter of putting in together like they did in 2011 instead of letting things fall apart in 2012. This team can push for a playoff berth if they consistently play to their potential but as last year showed, they are also capable of being downright awful. I’ll say this, it’s a make or break year for Jim Schwartz.
As for Matthew Stafford, I’m a fan. I know he takes a lot of heat for his mechanics but I spent a lot of time watching a quarterback dominate this division with a style no quarterbacks coach would ever teach. I’m not saying Stafford is necessarily Brett Favre but I see a lot of examples of Stafford’s free style leading to plays he wouldn’t otherwise make. Now, he probably gets too loose too often but at the end of the day I just want a quarterback who can make plays. Stafford is one of those guys, he just needs to be more consistent. In the NFL you either have a quarterback or you need to do everything in your power to find one. The Lions have a quarterback.
Thanks again to Zac for the great answers (No. 5 especially provided a lot of insight), and be sure to check out the SideLion Report.