Editor’s Note: We’re very lucky here at BLD to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network with blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our weekly feature: Behind Enemy Lines. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Bills’ opponent for that the week.
This week we’re checking in with Zac Snyder, editor of SideLion Report, Fansided’s outstanding Lions blog. It’s tough not to feel some comradarie with Lions fans, who are cut from largely the same cloth as Bills fans. We both suffer. Both teams play in dying northern industrial cities. But for once…both teams have some hope!
Anyway, big thanks to Zac for taking the time to answer some Lions-related questions for us as we get ready for tonight’s preseason finale.
1. First and foremost, how has the team looked this preseason?
For the most part the Lions have been just OK. The first team offense wasn’t sharp in the opener against Cleveland and backup quarterback Shaun Hill hasn’t looked great when leading the offense either. Matthew Stafford played very well in the second game against the Ravens but had his night cut short against the Raiders due to an injury scare. Defensively things have been about as should be expected. The defensive line has played well while the back seven has been inconsistent.
2. We all know the last preseason game is usually useless – but are there any Lions storylines worth keeping an eye on in this contest?
It’s (former Boise State QB) Kellen Moore’s last chance to prove he’s worthy of being on the final 53-man roster. He’s shown that his physical tools will limit him at the NFL level but the Lions coaching staff seems to like him. That won’t be enough to ensure the Lions carry three quarterbacks into the regular season. The most likely scenario is that they try to put Moore on the practice squad. Still, with a good showing against the Bills he could make the decision much more difficult.
3. I somehow feel like Matthew Stafford’s incredible 2011 season didn’t get enough respect around the league. The man threw for 5,038 yards and 41 TDs! Do you consider Stafford to be one the game’s best passers, or is there still cause for concern with him?
I don’t see any cause for concern and he is definitely knocking on the door of joining the game’s elite quarterbacks. He probably won’t match last season’s crazy stats but he is more than capable of putting any doubt of his standing out of the minds of the so called experts. If he can keep his completion percentage up and interceptions down then he will be unquestionably regarded as elite by the time this season ends.
4. The end of last season was a horror show for Detroit’s defense, as the Lions got lit up by Green Bay and New Orleans for 40+ points each to close the year. What’s been done to patch the holes?
The drafted three cornerbacks last April and it looks like they got a starter in Bill Bentley. He’s been in and out of the starting spot in camp but figures to be the guy opposite Chris Houston in week one. The real key is getting Louis Delmas healthy. He hasn’t played this preseason but the team hopes he is ready for week one. Delmas is the leader back there and the Lions are definitely better with him in the lineup, which he wasn’t at the end of last season.
5. How good can this team be? The NFC North is going to be brutal, with three strong teams. Can the Lions come out on top?
The Lions can repeat last season’s ten wins and playoff appearance but asking them to knock off the Packers probably isn’t realistic this year. It has been a really long time since the Lions could even be considered playoff contenders year in and year out so while ten wins and a wild card isn’t an improvement over last year it is a step forward for the franchise as a whole. I really like the trajectory they are on as a team but I think it will be another year or two that they will truly be in their championship window. I see the Lions trending up, the Bears trending down and the Packers holding steady over the next three to five years.