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Eric Thomas: The Lions Did Great…Sort Of

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DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 22: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions looks on during the third quarter while playing the New England Patriots during a pre season game at Ford Field on August 22, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 22: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions looks on during the third quarter while playing the New England Patriots during a pre season game at Ford Field on August 22, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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By: Eric Thomas
@etflint

Yeah! The Lions are good again! A week after the team tossed a limp, obfuscating, smelly performance onto the turf at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, all is forgiven. The Lions turned in a good performance against the hallowed Tom Brady Patriots, unless you count penalties or scoring off turnovers or catching passes or getting open or accurate passing or short field goals or red zone offense. The defense got turnovers and Reggie Bush was good.

It’s hard to be a Lions fan. There are more ups and downs than the Gatekeeper at Cedar Point. This time of the year is the worst, when we all scour for positives like rats in a dark room, hoping to find a crumb.

At times Lions fans seem to be like the old Iraqi Information Minister, addressing the cameras while a curtain of fire approaches.

“It’s just a vanilla offense!” we say. “If Brandon Pettigrew catches the ball, it might give away too much!” said through a rictal smile, a wide-eyed Stepford stare burning into the person we’re addressing. “Matt Stafford keeps throwing high because he’s warming up! He’ll be accurate when the season starts!”

It wasn’t a great night at Ford Field against the Patriots. Nick Fairley continued to be a detriment instead of an asset, Patrick Edwards and Brandon Pettigrew didn’t catch balls that hit them in the hands, and Matt Stafford threw everything high, even the touchdown. It’s preseason, but when someone is committing dumb penalties and dropping passes—that indicates a deeper problem that a scant few weeks can’t solve. There are few things you can take from the preseason, but the prevalence of penalties is one of them.

The positives are few, but they’re important. Jason Jones was a beast. Reggie Bush proved what he brings to the offense with 109 yards receiving, and overall the Lions demonstrated why this year won’t be nearly the dumpster fire last year turned out to be.

The best news, by a proverbial Jim Price country mile, is Ndamukong Suh. When the camera zoomed to the sideline, revealing Suh surrounded by his team mates, those of us who’ve followed the monstrous defensive tackle since Nebraska stood up off our couches. Suh has long lacked the mental aspect of the game; his allergy to leadership was noted by pundits and journalists alike. He never took charge. He was never vocal. If Suh has asserted himself as a leader, this could prove to be a huge development.

Keep an eye on Darius Slay. It’s hard to say he’s under the radar, as a second round pick in the most recent draft, but he had a decent game. Granted, Chris Houston stole the pick from Tom Brady, but Slay has sound fundamentals. He tackles well (AS A CORNERBACK?! THAT’S ALLOWED?!?! IN DETROIT?!? SHOULD WE TELL SOMEONE??) and he improvises well when he’s out of position. Bill Bentley may likely be a bust but Slay could prove to be a contributor quicker that anyone might have expected.

So we trudge through the next few weeks, staggering to the regular season. Hopefully none of the starters play against the Bills and receive the James Stewart why-do-we-even-have-preseason Award. Preseason means nothing, but if a team can’t even do the fundamental throwing or catching or tackling, it doesn’t bode well going forward. Luckily with the Lions we’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly.

It’s probably a successful preseason when you emerge without knowing anything.

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