By Chris Morgan
A new season begins for the Detroit Lions, with a new head coach and two new coordinators. Last year was a disappointment to some, hence the change in personnel. Lions fans will have to wait a little longer than most to see their team in action, because Detroit is hosting the first Monday Night Football game of the season. The New York Giants are visiting Ford Field to open the year. The Lions will hope to get off on the right foot, so what kind of opponent will the Giants be for them?
Obviously, this is the first game of the season, so both teams have spotless records. However, last year, much like the Lions, the Giants finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Eli Manning had an awful season, the running game struggled through injuries, and now they have a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo, who had been working with the Green Bay Packers. With him, comes a new style of offensive football.
Last year, with their old offense, the Giants threw the ball down the field, and they didn’t really have the personnel for it. That’s part of the reason why Manning, a quarterback with many fine seasons to his name, threw 27 picks to 18 touchdowns. This year, the team plans to use a more West Coast style offense. The passes will be shorter, and presumably less dangerous. Victor Cruz is the kind of player who can work in this style of offense, but he’s really the only proven passing weapon the Giants have. If the Lions can shut him down, who else can step up? Additionally, New York has had offensive line issues, which is conducive to the way Detroit’s defense has been built. Could Ziggy Ansah get pressure on Manning and lead to some more picks?
On defense, the Giants have two talented, but mercurial players. Jason Pierre-Paul has had huge seasons, but not so much recently. They added Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie to their secondary, which they needed. However, beyond that, the team doesn’t have much going for it. If the Lions can keep Pierre-Paul in check, nobody else can really bring much on the rush. Rodgers-Cromartie is a fine quarterback, but he can’t stop Calvin Johnson, because few can. Meanwhile, Golden Tate is going to have a favorable matchup. The Giants also do not impress in terms of their linebackers, which could be beneficial to Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, not just as rushers, but in terms of catching passes out of the backfield, which they both excel at.
Both of these teams are going to be running somewhat new offenses, but the Lions also have a new head coach in Jim Caldwell, while Tom Coughlin and his two Super Bowl rings still patrol the sidelines for the Giants. This has the makings of a high scoring game, as both teams have questions on defense. However, the Giants also have a few questions on offense, and given that this is the first week of the season, there could be some kinks for both teams. Answers will be provided on Monday Night, but one team is not going to be happy with them.
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .