Sure it’s the preseason, but that was not what the Detroit Lions were looking for from their first-team offense and defense.
Certainly, it was a long bus ride back from Cleveland after the Lions lost 24-6 to the Browns in preseason action on Thursday night.
At the half, coach Jim Schwartz called it a “poor performance.’’ No one would argue.
It’s not the wins and losses in the preseason that matter so much — remember the Lions were 4-0 in the preseason in 2008 and then went 0-16.
In the preseason it’s how they take advantage of opportunities, how they execute and if they play a clean game.
We didn’t see much of that from the Lions who are 1-1 in the preseason.
Other than Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, the Lions played sloppy football — couldn’t tackle, couldn’t hold onto the ball, couldn’t run much, couldn’t block. Even then, Suh picked up a personal foul for roughing the passer. It wasn’t close, it was a good call.
Running back Joique Bell might have had two of the Lions’ best tackles when he ran down an almost-naked streaker in the third quarter.
It took four possessions for the Lions’ first-team offense to get a sniff at the goal line and then they had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by David Akers.
In fact, the offense, led by Matthew Stafford, was 3-and-out on the first three series.
Detroit’s first first-down came on the fourth series on a Reggie Bush spin-a-rama pass play for 18 yards.
Calvin Johnson did sit out the game with a knee bruise, but his absence was not the only problem. The Lions were trying not to show much scheme-wise since they face the Browns in the regular season. That wasn’t really an issue either because the Browns were thinking the same thing.
The problem was a brutal lack of execution and an unacceptable lack of discipline.
Detroit was whistled for three personal fouls in the first half — Suh, Reggie Bush and Willie Young. Not good.
“That’s something we didn’t have last week. We did a better job of handling our emotions,’’ Schwartz said.
On the Lions’ first scoring drive, the ball was in Bush’s hands on eight of nine plays. He finished with five catches for 44 yards and eight runs for 15 yards.
Stafford was 11 of 16 for 74 yards.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew dropped the first ball that came his way (sound familiar?) but came back with three catches for 20 yards.
Jason Fox got the start at right tackle with Jake Scott at right guard.
A drive led by Shaun Hill late in the third quarter was finished off with a 33-yard field goal by Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland.
Defensively the line is billed as the strength. Suh and Fairley ran down plays and even switched to the end on one play.
The first-team secondary — playing without safety Louis Delmas — couldn’t make plays and was poor at tackling. In the win over the Jets last week, Schwartz said after watching film the secondary played worse than he thought after the game.
Didn’t see much improvement in a week all down the line — not just the starters.
Browns starting quarterback Brandon Weeden was 8 of 12 for 117 yards and a pair of touchdown passes both to Jordan Cameron and against the LIons’ starting defense which featured Ziggy Ansah at right defensive end and Jason Jones on the left.
It does not get easier for the Lions.
They will welcome Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to Ford Field next Thursday.