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rushAfter rewatching the first half of last week’s game, I noticed a very interesting lineup. The Lions, on an obvious passing situation, trotted out Anthony Zettel and Kerry Hyder as interior D-linemen, and it worked.Patricia went with that same lineup on 3rd-and-long situations and we saw the same results, with Hyder notching another couple of pressures and Zettel earning a sack that was nullified after a hold on Tavon Wilson extended the drive.The pass rush wasn’t entirely consistent, but it was much better tonight than it has been to date, especially from the first-team defense.Hakeem VallesValles is becoming the most reliable TE the Lions have in the passing game with him hauling in three catches for 38 yards against the Bucs on Friday, while Michael Roberts was out there for the 109-yard return TD showing absolutely no effort to make a tackle. I think Valles is a near-lock at this point.Also, keep an eye out for Luke Willson’s status, who suffered a knee injury during the game and never returned.Ricky Jean FrancoisI was going to throw him in there with the pass rush, but I think RJF deserves his own spot for being arguably the best player on the field for the Lions on Friday night. With six tackles, Jean Francois led all Lions not named Nevin Lawson with 6 tackles, making some key stops against the run and notching at least one pressure.Running gameIf there is any positive to take from this game, it’s the running backs and the dudes up front blocking for them. Four of the Lions’ five running backs averaged 4.1 yards per carry or higher with the O-line opening up real, actual lanes and getting some serious push up front.Matt CasselHave to imagine he’s your backup QB after the performance he put on while playing with a mix of starters and second stringers. Rudock did lead the Lions to a win on the final drive of the game, but I think the edge goes to Cassel here. Brandon PowellI still don’t see Powell making the team with Tate and TJ Jones likely ahead of him and no real reason for the Lions to keep a slot guy as their fifth receiver, but he left some good tape out there for the Lions or any other team looking for a shifty, special teams ace. Powell should easily make the practice squad and his best chance to make the final roster is if TJ Jones’ spot isn’t as safe as we think.LosersRed zone offenseThe offense had absolutely no problem moving the ball on the Bucs early, but the dreaded red zone offense reared its ugly head as we’ve seen in years past Cheap Matthew Stafford Jersey
, and despite getting all the way inside the 10-yard line on two consecutive drives, the offense walked away with just six points total.Jarrad DavisThis game was reminiscent of the Patriots’ preseason game from last year. To see Davis show no improvement whatsoever is a little disconcerting for the second-year linebacker. Davis is the captain of the defense, and may be the biggest liability they have right now on that side of the ball. People who want to watch real footballI don’t really know how to explain what happened at the end of the first half, but instead of electing to use some of his timeouts, Matt Patricia decided to let his offense run the clock to its final five seconds for a 62-yard field goal attempt.And then this happened.Welp.I feel pretty confident that this was not a series of decisions that Patricia would make during the regular season, but who knows? Preseason is weird.Nevin LawsonLawson had a bullseye on his back and was constantly abused by anyone lined up across from him. That includes getting torched in the second half against the Bucs’ reserves. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse performance in the preseason since I started writing about the Lions, and I’m pretty sure Lawson might receive the first ever negative grade from Pro Football Focus.First team on both sidesThis was a poor performance all across the board from the starters against a team they beat last year and should probably outperform. It’s only the preseason, but I think there is some real cause for concern with how the starters have looked so far.3 Detroit Lions players make ESPN’s top 100 of 2018 list The sports world is enamored by lists, and we’re not immune. Heck, one of our favorite segments of our own PODcast is the LISTCAST鈩? The latest list to draw national attention is ESPN’s top 100 players of the 2018 season. Unlike the popular NFL Network list, this isn’t voted on by players, but rather a panel of over 50 different ESPN analysts. Here’s how they describe the methodology:“We asked a panel of ESPN NFL experts to rate players based on how good they will be in 2018, using a scale from 0-100. We asked them to not emphasize past performances or positional value — only greatness this season. We then averaged their ratings to create the top 100.” So how were the Detroit Lions represented in the list? Well, actually a little better than the NFL Network counterpart. While Detroit only managed to have two players on NFLN’s list, three Lions made ESPN’s list. Let’s take a look at who made the cut, and where they checked in on the list.Matthew Stafford: No. 35Stafford was unsurprisingly the Lions’ highest-ranked player. At 35, Stafford was behind only six other quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers (1), Tom Brady (2), Drew Brees (6), Carson Wentz (17) http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-graham-glasgow-jersey
, Ben Roethlisberger (18), and Matt Ryan (21).This is pretty similar to where Stafford landed on the NFL list. His peers ranked him 31st overall, behind eight different quarterbacks.Darius Slay: No. 67Slay came in significantly below where he ranked on NFL Network’s list (49). Even more surprising was that Slay barely cracked the top 10 at his position on ESPN’s list. Seven other cornerbacks ranked above Slay: Jalen Ramsey (9), Patrick Peterson (20), Marshon Lattimore (26), Xavier Rhodes (34), A.J. Bouye (47), Marcus Peters (48), and Casey Hayward (66).“He has the speed to keep up with any receiver, the leaping ability to break up passes and the confidence to be one of the league’s top corners,” wrote ESPN’s Michael Rothstein on his reasoning for the placement.Ezekiel Ansah: No. 77Yes, this was just as shocking to me as it probably is to you. Predicting Ansah to have an outstanding 2018 season is just something I’m not willing to do considering his injury history over the past two seasons.Of course, it’s worth mentioning that even with Ziggy’s injury-plagued 2017 season, he still amassed 12.0 sacks, tied for eighth-most in the NFL. That shows just how valuable he can be when he’s at full health. However, the fact that he missed the first week or two of training camp after reportedly tweaking his hamstring during conditioning drills isn’t exactly promising for his availability this upcoming season. But Ziggy is in a contract year, and not many players across the entire NFL have more to gain or lose based on their 2018 performance. Return to form, and Ansah is in for a huge payday next offseason. If he struggles through injuries again, and it would be hard to justify anything other than a prove-it contract in 2019.