Saturday, August 9, 2014
W2W4: Detroit Lions
By Michael Rothstein
The Detroit Lions (0-0) and Cleveland Browns (0-0) open their preseason Saturday night at Ford Field. The game is televised nationally on NFL Network.
1. Jim Caldwell’s debut: The Lions’ coach is in his second go-round as the leader of an NFL franchise and his third as a head coach of a major program (if you include his stint at Wake Forest). It’s only the preseason, but Caldwell has preached accountability, with an emphasis on efficiency and limiting mistakes, essentially from the day he was hired. This is the first opportunity to see whether that message is pushing through, or if the same issues the Lions had in the past with penalties and miscues continue. So far, everyone has said all the right things when it comes to Caldwell and his coaching staff, but this is the first time they face another team. This should give a very small window into how he coaches.
2. What will the offense look like? Secondary to the debut of Caldwell is the introduction of coordinator Joe Lombardi, who will be calling offenses in the NFL for the first time. The Lions focused on adding offensive pieces during the offseason, including Golden Tate and Eric Ebron. While it is unlikely those two will play much -- if at all, in Ebron’s case -- this will give Lions fans a chance to see what the team could look like this season. Expect a lot more personnel packages featuring two tight ends, the return of the fullback in at least part of the offense, and a combination of short passes with long shots down the field. What does Caldwell want to see out of it? “Efficiency,” he said.
3. Field goals: Yes, this is an odd thing to watch for, but the Lions need to get a grasp on who their kicker will be at some point, and this will be the first time Giorgio Tavecchio and Nate Freese will perform with the taller uprights at Ford Field. This is one of the closest competitions on the roster when it comes to a starting spot. Caldwell said earlier this week that production, results and “data” will be a big factor in determining who wins the job.