Lions Preseason Schedule: Bring On The PatRIOTS

>> 4.13.2011

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.


2 comments:

Zac April 13, 2011 at 12:53 PM  

It makes sense to see as much 3-4 as possible in the preseason because they see 4-3 on the practice field. It is obvious they put some thought into how they schedule the preseason and I like that.

Matt,  April 14, 2011 at 2:25 PM  

I think it has much to do with testing our defense against the Pat's offense as it does with testing our O against a creative D. This is the one pre-season game in which Tom Brady "should" play a full half or more. As Ty alluded to, our D held him in check for most of the game, then got abused at the end. Getting to square off against a Top 5 QB in a game that doesn't actually count will be very valuable practice.

And on the flip-side, Stafford "should" play nearly a full game against Belichik's D. The Lions have always been good about scheduling challenging opponents (how many years in a row did we play PIT?). Of course, you're not going to see the real exotic stuff, but facing a different look, even the vanilla version, has to be beneficial.

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