Unfortunately the Browns were missing a whole host of starters on both sides of the ball, however the guy they really want to get a look at is their quarterback Colt McCoy, and he was starting front and center.
The Lions were hoping to avoid losing any more players to injury having already suffered a big blow with Mikel LeShore going down for the season. Detroit wound up with a 30-28 win, but what did we learn from the game?
Detroit – Three Things of Note
.● Jahvid Best reminds me a little of Michael Bennett, the one-time Viking Pro-Bowler, and to a lesser extent, Reggie Bush. He is dangerous in space, and has the speed to be able to eat up big gains on average plays, but he really doesn’t suit running between the tackles, and could struggle again if the Lions need to rely on him doing that this season. He coughed up a fumble on the Lions’ first drive on offense and was tested for concussion following the series, which will worry anybody familiar with his college career. He passed the test and conducted post-game interviews, but that’ll worry people looking to his durability.
● The Lions are supposed to have the defensive line to hide all secondary problems, and while it was missing some of its weapons, it wasn’t getting a huge amount of pressure on McCoy. They ran primarily with the same four starters from 2010 and the Browns’ O-line was able to hold up well, perhaps buoyed by the absence of Eric Steinbach, one of the most perennially overrated players in the league. The Browns’ quick-passing game also helped keep McCoy clean in the pocket for the most part. The Lions then had to start dialing up the blitz in order to generate pressure, sending more players than the Browns could pick up.
● Nate Burleson has always been a talented player, often held back by injuries, and he did a few nice things in this game. From his end-around early on to one of the more spectacular touchdown catches you’ll seen. Burleson came off the line, sucked Mike Adams into thinking he was run blocking, and then snuck behind him to the back of the end zone where he made a leaping grab for the TD, dropping both feet in bounds as he came down. The reason I bring it up here is that he was very lucky not to be called for a false start on that very touchdown play, visibly flinching before the snap. Small margins can be the difference between being backed up 5 yards and a spectacular TD.
Cleveland – Three Things of Note
- ● We’ve always liked the potential of Evan Moore at the tight end position for the Browns, but if he wasn’t already on your radar, his performance in this game after getting the opportunity of playing the bulk of the snaps with the starters should be enough to convince you. Starting TE Ben Watson was out injured, and Moore made the most of his opportunity with a pair of touchdowns and some nice catches.
● With Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin in the middle for the Browns on D, they have a lot of beef in front of middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Those two defensive tackles combine for something in the region of 670lbs and were too much for the Lions’ interior on the occasions they could get singled up, shutting down running lanes on multiple plays. Jackson could benefit in a big way from those two keeping him clean over the season.
● We were really high on Joe Haden last season, and if he had started all season long he may well have been the best rookie corner around, so it’s interesting to watch him closely in this game where he was largely facing Burleson with no Calvin Johnson on display. It’s a good sign for a corner that even when he’s beaten he’s in very close proximity to the receiver. Haden was beaten on a couple of occasions by Burleson and by Brandon Pettigrew, but he also broke up a couple of plays and was constantly glued to his man in coverage.
There you have it, two sides with some interesting things to watch out for going forwards, but before we call it an article, I have just one more thing of interest to impart. While it doesn’t really fit in anywhere else one fact the announcers mentioned that struck me as interesting is that the Lions now have two HBs in Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison that were traded for each other last season.