Things to Pay Attention To In The Lions’ Preseason Games

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Detroit Lions’ Preseason Football Is Here. These Are Some Things To Pay Attention To In These Preseason Games If You Haven’t Kept Up With The Offseason.


What To Ignore In The Lions’ Preseason Games

Preseason isn’t always the most informative football. There is plenty of information to be gathered. We just aren’t always looking in the right places.

It’s a long offseason and fans are all anxiously awaiting the beginning of the football season. It is easy to get overanxious and jump to conclusions, pay attention to how the starters look, or check the box scores. The list goes on. The problem is that most of that stuff isn’t important.

Preseason isn’t anybody’s best football, and they don’t always come in looking sharp. That doesn’t mean that we should be concerned about anybody going into the regular season. It simply means that they aren’t fully up to speed yet or, more likely, they had a couple of bad reps in a very limited sample size, especially when we are looking at players that are locks for the roster.

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The box scores are pretty useless in evaluating football players, and that becomes more true when we are looking at preseason games. Playing time is not distributed evenly, players are playing against different levels of competition, coaches are forcing players into specific situations, some players are getting extra looks to see if they can even make the roster. The box scores are useless to us.

Play calling i going to be different. Coaches are testing out plays and testing out players in specific roles. There isn’t much in terms of gameflow that can tell us anything about how the team is going to be calling their plays in the regular season. Once again, not incredibly helpful.

So that’s a lot of stuff that we should not be paying attention to. So what should we be paying attention to? There are a few things that I try and keep an eye on in every preseason game. Here they are.

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Lineups

Preseason starts to give us an idea of how the depth charts are going to shape up. It tells us who the coaches are letting run with the starters and who is fighting for a roster spot. This is something that is important to pay attention to. It doesn’t always tell us much about the specific player, but it tells us a lot about how the coaches view that player.

It isn’t always cut and try, but where players are moving between lineups as we progress through preseason can be very telling about their chances to make the roster.

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Running Backs

After Legarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, and Theo Riddick, who is the next running back in the game? Who isn’t making it into the game until the fourth quarter? The Lions’ preseason games will tell us a lot about a couple of specific position groups.

The running back room is crowded, and a lot of the backs that took carries for Detroit last year will probably end up on the wrong side of a roster cut. Pay attention to who is getting the most meaningful snaps, and who is battling it out at the back end of games. That should give us a good idea of what these players future holds in Detroit.

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Secondary

The Lions secondary is another crowded group. Detroit brought in some fresh blood to the group this offseason, and it is unclear who is going to make the cut when the team needs to start sizing the group down. Players like Miles Killebrew may be left without jobs when the dust settles, or one of the new acquisitions may end a free agent when it is all said and done.

This is a group to pay a lot of attention to. There are a couple of players in the secondary that can move around between corner and safety, and it will be interesting to see where they primarily play in the preseason games. There is a lot of talent in this group, and that is a good problem to have, but they aren’t all going to make it. The Lions simply have too many talented secondary players to reasonably make the roster. Pay attention to which ones are getting reps with the starters, and which ones are playing toward the end of the game.

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Defensive Scheme

A lot of people have done a lot of really good work to dissect Matt Patricia‘s defensive scheme and apply it to Detroit’s current personnel. This is the first time that we will get to see it in action. I cautioned before that paying attention to play calling in preseason can be dangerous, but this is all that we have to go on.

Lions’ preseason football is going to give us our first look at some of Patricia’s defensive fronts, some of the blitz packages, sub packages, etc. He’s likely saving a lot of his tricks for the regular season, but we will get a chance to see some of the base packages for the first time in Detroit.

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Backup Performances

Individual performances for starters is not worth paying attention to. Backup performances are slightly more helpful in determining how the roster is going to shape up.

It’s dangerous to attach too much hope to a lot of these players at the back end, even with standout preseason performances, but it can certainly be the difference in making the roster or missing out. We are only seeing the game. We are missing the daily practices and everything else that goes on behind the scenes, but it is the only piece of the puzzle that we can see for ourselves, so it’s all we’ve got.

Pay attention specifically to some of the undrafted free agents, the true bubble players. Those are the guys that are going to need to make the most of their reps, and splash plays in the preseason can go a long way toward earning a roster spot.

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It’s Preseason

I know that we are all dying to get football started, but it’s important to remember that this is only preseason. There are always camp and preseason darlings that the fans fall in love with, the fans are always calling for some player’s head that had a poor showing. It’s important to pay attention to the things that actually tell us something about the team in these upcoming Lions’ preseason games. It’s not always the most fascinating stuff to the fans, but there is plenty to watch for, even if the games don’t count.

Most importantly, let’s hope that everyone stays healthy.

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Thanks for checking out the article everyone. Go Lions! You can follow me on Twitter @Lanny1925 and be sure to join the community on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Sean Lanigan
I love fantasy football, fantasy baseball, music, books, video games, and all things nerd. I'm a big football fan and a bigger Detroit Lions fan. I was born in Michigan but have spent the vast majority of my life living in Viking and Packer country. If you are a Lions fan in Minnesota, hit me up, and let's watch some football.