Are the Lions the new Dolphins?

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OK. That’s what I’m talking about, Detroit. That O-line looks a solid unit. Let’s go kick-ass.

I listened to the Lions’ come back win over the Colts Saturday (at least the final third of it) as I drove home from London’s Wembley Stadium. Thank heavens for the internet, mobile phones and streaming technology baby.

By all accounts the Lions O-line was opening holes for Kevin Smith and the running backs and providing protection for the QB. That’s a huge step forward from last season’s leaky bucket approach to pass-protection.

And OK I get it’s only preseason and I’m already sick of hearing how the 4-0 record translated to 0-16 last time around. But the vibe I’m picking up from this round of preseason games is that the Raiders are the new Lions and hell, who knows, maybe the Lions are the new Dolphins. It could happen.

What about that Drew Stanton? Way to engineer a game-winning drive. Not bad for a backup. Nor was the input of Daunte Culpepper who also looked impressive in his start. With news breaking from New England that they’ve released Kevin O’Connell I’m wondering if they may be eyeing Culpepper as an experienced backup for Tom Brady, especially if he’s troubled by that shoulder injury. It would certainly make Schwartz’s task easier.

But for me Matt Stafford showed what an arm he has and displayed a good grasp of Jim Schwartz’s offensive system. To my mind (and see previous post) that puts him firmly in the seat as the day one starter.

Stafford himself seemed content with his performance, if predictably non-committal on his being the starter, saying:

“I don’t know. It’s not up to me; it’s up to the coaches. I’m just out there trying to play, put point on the board, and move the ball up and down the field. I felt like we were pretty successful when I was in there.”

Where Schwartz stands on it all is still a mystery though with the coach giving nothing away in his praise of all the QBs:

“I thought all three quarterbacks played well. (I think) it was midway through the third quarter and they never really stopped our offense, we stopped ourselves. We had a couple personal fouls that derailed scoring drives.

“Our offense was able to control the ball; when you play the Colts, when you play Peyton Manning, you better be able to control the football and limit his chances, and I thought that Scott (Linehan) and the offense did a great job of that. In the first half, they gave Manning the ball three times by controlling the clock.

“The only thing I’d like to see is us finish one of those drives with a score, because like I said, they didn’t stop us, we stopped ourselves.”

That last point is the telling one. The penalties and mistakes that sunk last season Lions are much diminished but still persistently there; like an echo of a toothache. It’s something that the team will continue to work on during the build-up to the big kick-off in New Orleans.

PS: Ok. I can’t say how much I’d love to be in New Orleans for that game. Any of you guys or gals going down there? Let me know and maybe drop me some info from the trip. Feel free to pass this link around, even if it’s only to tell your buddies what a dolt I am.

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