A Breakdown of the Lions vs Colts Pre-Season matchups
Matchups To Keep An Eye Out For
While the first pre-season games rarely showcase much from team’s starting units, typically you get to see a little bit from new additions fighting for roster spots and rookies looking to earn game reps. These reps are going to be important to watch for Lions fans as they will give the viewer, and media personnel, a glimpse into what we could see from them during the regular season. The following are matchups that Lions fans should watch closely to gauge where some of their players, new and old, are at.
Jarrad Davis vs Colts Short Passing Game
An inability to cover the middle of the field may be the biggest weakness the Lions had in 2016. This played a big part in why the Lions gave up the 2nd most touchdowns through the air last year. The Lions new rookie Mike linebacker Jarrad Davis may be the guy to watch in Honolulu blue this game. While there will likely be rookie growing pains for Davis, it should be worth watching how he is in coverage against the slants and button hooks that killed the Lions’ defense last year.
Seeing any improvement in this area would be a good sign. It may be unlikely to see a complete turnaround this season. But Davis could help the Lions move from a bottom five defense last season to middle of the pack this season. And that increase in production could be a recipe for success. Having a top-end offense and average defense has helped the Packers and Falcons have much success in recent years. You could see Detroit follow that trend in 2017.
Quincy Wilson vs Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay
This matchup is going to be a fun one to watch. Wilson made a living at Florida using his physicality to press receivers and disrupt their routes. This could cause trouble for Golladay and Jones as one of their most cited weaknesses is press man. However, this could also be a showcase for them to prove that they have the strength and technique to defeat Wilson.
This likely will come easier for veteran Marvin Jones versus the rookie Wilson. But getting a clean release was hard for Jones in the second half of 2016. Lining up against a press man talent like Wilson could be a good test.
Golladay has had a lot of camp hype so far. It is hard not to fall in with Golladay’s measurables. However, one of the things scouts criticized most was his strength against press man and to create separation on breaking routes. At 6’4″, you may not expect this issue – except his build is more wiry like Marvin Jones. Golladay does have the frame to add more weight though and could help him down the road, even if he struggles early against man coverage. If Golladay can find separation early, however, it could be a very good sign of where he is at as a rookie.
Colts’ New Linebackers vs Lions’ New Left Tackles
These two positions will look much different for both teams since their week one matchup last year. The Lions lost their talented, young left tackle Taylor Decker for at least the first four weeks of the regular season. The battle for his spot in the lineup should be a strong one between newly signed Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson. They will be tested as the Colts took this off-season to address their lackluster linebacking corps from a year ago with the signings of Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, and Sean Spence.
These three are all solid pass rushers. Mingo utilizes power with Sheard and Spence relying more on speed and finesse to make plays. How Kouandjio and Robinson handle this pass rush could play a big role in who wins the left tackle spot. The Lions have put an emphasis on pass blocking and adding weapons for quarterback Matthew Stafford this off-season. So this matchup could be a deciding factor in who the Lions’ starting left tackle will be in week one against Arizona.