Yesterday, the Lions announced their preseason schedule:
- vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- at Cleveland Browns (Great Lakes Classic!)
- vs. New England Patriots (Saturday, 8:00 pm, CBS
- at Buffalo Bills
The spotlight, as always, is on the third preseason game. As Dennis Green so colorfully told us, every coaching staff takes that game seriously:
The Lions have never been afraid to court a serious opponent for that game, and Bill Belichick is as serious it gets. Jim Schwartz Tweeted:
“Like NE as third preseason game. Nice having a 3-4 team as talented as the Patriots in that slot.”
The Lions scheduled 3-4 (and 3-4/4-3 hybrid) teams last season, too: Pittsburgh, Denver, Cleveland, and Buffalo. I wonder what the idea is here? The Packers, of course, run a 3-4, but Minnesota and Chicago run 4-3s, with varying degrees of Cover 2. I think it goes back to the principles I look at in The Watchtower: scheme-on-scheme interaction. With the personnel rotation in the preseason, it becomes base defense vs. base offense—and 3-4s naturally generate more outside pressure.
Then again, the third preseason game is the only one where real gameplanning occurs, so perhaps The Grandmaster is just excited about getting a preseason chess match. He can deploy rookies and try position switches and take risks, almost without consequence. Better yet, it’s a chess match against his old mentor—a rematch of last year, when 45 minutes of stalemate yielded to a blowout loss in the endgame. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, that was the last time the Lions played before a national audience.What? Yes, that’s right, it’ll be on national TV, Saturday night, at 8:00. Much has been said (and written) about the Lions’ primetime TV drought; I won’t rehash it all here. But, given the Patriots’ involvement, the buzz building around the Lions, and the primo time slot, the Lions will be playing in the most-anticipated game of the most (only) important week of preseason football. There will be PREGAME analysis. There may even be hype! That’s right, national TV analysts attempting to convince us that the Lions will play competitive, interesting football against a perennial winner. I will shamelessly enjoy it.