The Detroit Lions’ impressive preseason debut featured much of what a team could hope for in their first outing of the exhibition campaign.
Going beyond the score (34-3), the team had good execution in all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams – their starters on offense created two touchdowns while the defense and special team starters produced two turnovers and did not surrender a touchdown.
The team also left with no major injuries.
Perhaps the only item separating this game from a perfect outing was the running attack. If you subtract the totals of quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Zac Robinson (5 carries for 3 yards) the team rushed for only 67 yards on 27 carries.
Those numbers are far from desirable, but offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is looking at the big picture.
“If we’re doing the right thing – if I’m doing the right thing – we’ll take what the defense gives you,” Said Linehan. "It was pretty hard box city out there (in Friday’s game) so we tried to use the passing game to our advantage and I think we did OK with that last week."
Linehan intends to play to the strength of the match-up each week. If a team attempts to take away the running game, the Lions are prepared to pass. If a team takes away the passing game, the Lions are prepared to run.
“If you want to be a good offense then you got to do both.” Said Linehan.
Still, there is a recognition that more work needs to be done.
“We didn’t run it as good as we should have or we could have, so I’m not going to totally dismiss it” he added, “But for the most part we took what they gave us last week and hopefully we can do that (against Cleveland).”
The Lions will play the Browns on Friday.
One of the contributors to the Lions overall low rushing total was the performance of the two newest additions to the backfield – Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell. The two combined for 11 carries and 13 yards. However, head coach Jim Schwartz refused to jump to any conclusions after only one outing.
“It’s a little too soon to rush to judgment,” said Schwartz. “It’s a very difficult situation he (Harrison) was put into last week; show up on a couple days and go out and play in a game… Some of (his) carries were into looks that he really didn’t have a chance. But he’s a veteran player that knows what he’s doing, it didn’t take him very long to catch up scheme wise.
"Both of those guys – Bell and Harrison – were both behind physically. You couldn’t help but be. Football shape is football shape and both of those guys weren’t in camp.”
With three games left in the preseason, there is ample time to make improvements and adjustments where necessary.
And regardless of whether the Lions’ ground game struggled or simply took a backseat to the passing attack isn't too big of a concern to the team right now.
"(It’s still) early in the year," said Linehan. "We got plenty of work to do."