Daily Chat: The Strengths & Weaknesses Of The Detroit Lions



As horrible as Shaun Hill looked against the Bears after taking over for the injured Matthew Stafford, Hill still managed to keep the Lions in the game to the end, when they were ultimately robbed by a STOOPID rule that denied Calvin Johnson his jump-ball touchdown in the waning seconds of the game.

The former Vikings quarterback had nine completions on 19 attempts for 88 yards and an interception. But despite those poor numbers, the Lions essentially beat the Bears.

Last week, Hill’s offense put up 32 points against the Philadelphia Eagles. The only problem was that the Eagles put up 35 against the Lions. In that game, Hill completed 25 of the 45 passes he threw for 345 yards and two interceptions to match his two touchdowns.

Hill is not necessarily a downgrade from Matthew Stafford. Remember, he’s a nine-year veteran who started the equivalent of a full season during his stint in San Francisco. While it looked like his protection left something to be desired against the Bears, they gave him plenty of time against the Eagles. Hill is a classic pocket quarterback; give him time and he can pick a defense apart, especially when he has weapons like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Jahvid Best at his disposal.

Speaking of the offensive line, from the tape I saw, they do a very good job of blocking for Jahvid Best, be it in the ground game or on screens.

Jahvid Best, you’ll remember, is the back the Lions took with the first-round pick they got from us during this year’s draft-day trade. The pick we got from them we used to take cornerback Chris Cook. Best appears to have the makings of a franchise back but I’m not yet convinced it’s him or the blocking he’s getting. Michael Bennett, remember, looked pretty damn good for one year. Nevertheless, Best’s speed makes him dangerous.

The Lions like to use Best on screens (he scored from 75 yards out on one last week. [WATCH.]

Like the Vikings, the Lions receivers do an excellent job of downfield blocking.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is what he is: A beast of a receiver at 6’5″, 236 lbs. You saw the jump ball last-second touchdown that he was robbed of against the Bears. Shaun Hill will have no fear of throwing the jump ball to Johnson, period.

Like Calvin Johnson, Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew presents match up problems. Pettigrew stands 6’5″ and weights 265 lbs. It appears he might be coming into his own in his second year. Last week he had seven receptions for 108 yards against the Eagles. the Lions like to use him on screens in the passing game and with that much bulk, he can hold his own against offensive lineman in the run game.

The strength of the Lions defense is the line. They picked up free agent defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch from Tennessee and he has 12 tackles, five assists and 1.5 sacks already this season. The Lions drafted the 6’4″, 307 lbs. defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh number two overall this year. Suh has nine tackles and two sacks thus far this season.

So they’ve got a legit pass rushing threat on the outside and big guy who can get after in up the middle as well.

The rest of the Lions defense, though, is suspect. The linebackers are banged up with Zach Follett out with a concussion but it looks like middle linebacker DeAndre Levy will return from injury for this game.

Given time to throw the ball, Brett Favre should have no trouble pick apart this secondary, even with our evolving receiving corps. I’m guessing the Lions will try and shut Visanth(e) Shiancoe down but if they do, look for Percy Harvin to have a big game.

I gotta think Favre will test that defensive backfield with some shots to the newly acquired Hank Baskett, too, but then I keep expecting Greg Camarillo to show up one of these days, too, so what do I know?

These are not your father’s Detroit Lions.

Since shedding the devastation that was Matt Millen, it appears this team is finally on the upswing. They’ve made smart free agent acquisitions and their recent drafts seem to indicate that they finally have some decent talent evaluators.

I don’t think the Lions are there yet but they might be when we face them later this year in Detroit.

At 0-2, I have no doubt the Vikings will not be taking the Lions lightly on Sunday. They cannot afford to but history would dictate the same regardless; the Lions always play us tough at home.

But then they always lose to us, too.