We’re getting eager in anticipation of this week’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions, and we know the Lions fans are as well. Since we’re not the experts on Lions football, I made a bold move and had a quick Q&A session with the great Nate Williams, fearless leader of Side Lion Report.
Side Lion Report is, of course, the FanSided blog dedicated to the team that has absolutely shredded the Broncos each of the last couple of times they have played.
I wanted some serious insight into what is going on with the Lions, who are 0-2 so far this season despite my having picked them to win both games. What gives?
Here’s my Q&A with Nate, who is worth a follow on Twitter and a great dude.
1. What has the loss of Ndamukong Suh (and others) actually done to the defense for Detroit? Is it as bad as you anticipated, better, or worse?
"With where we stand now, entering week three, I would be lying if I said the defense wasn’t feeling the loss of Suh. Haloti Ngata is struggling a bit, which is understandable going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 Caraun Reid has also been injured and Tyrunn Walker left with an injury vs Minnesota.Last week, rookie Gabe Wright was in the game for far too many plays. Hopefully with the return of Reid and Walker healthy, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will be able to establish the rotation he wants, which should strengthen the center of that D-line."
2. The Lions have some exciting offensive playmakers, but rookie Ameer Abdullah is really encouraging. What kind of impact do you expect from him in this game?
"Abdullah is a truly unique talent. He lacks great top end speed, but has phenomenal acceleration and agility. We’ve already seen flashes of brilliance from him this season, but in order for him to live up to the hype, he’s going to need some help up front. Last week the offensive line didn’t open up a single hole for any running back all game, which resulted in Abdullah averaging 1.7 yards per carry on the day."
3. Matt Stafford isn’t fully healthy right now — is he going to be able to able to play and if he does, what kind of limitations will we see?
"Listen, I cover this immediately following the game last Sunday and I still feel the same way. Matthew Stafford is one of the toughest individuals I have ever seen play football. He took far too many monster hits last week, could reportedly barely speak the plays in the huddle due to the pain, but hung in there and put this squad on his back.Stafford was pressured on 22 of 58 drop backs in week two and only Colin Kaepernick has been pressured more times through two games, (35 to Stafford’s 34).With that in mind, from what I have seen in practice it appears as though he will start this week. As far as limitations, it’s hard to say since I don’t know exactly how he’s feeling. However, my guess is that he will start the game out just like his old self. My worry is how the offensive line handles the pressure we both know the Broncos are going to bring."
4. What do you feel is the most improved area of the Lions this season?
"I think the defensive secondary has continued to grow, especially Darius Slay. At this point, whomever Slay is covering tends to get shut out of the game.It’s very encouraging to see Detroit finally have a shut-down type corner for the first time in a long time."
5. What matchups do you think the Broncos can exploit to win this game?
"With out a doubt, the offensive line. It’s a young group that has struggled tremendously in 2015.In the game against the Vikings, Riley Reiff (-3.7) surrendered a hit and six hurries while RT Cornelius Lucas (-4.7) gave up a hit and four hurries.Only Manny Ramirez (ironically) has earned a positive grade in pass protection so far, and the worst performer, left tackle, Reiff, is situated in the worst possible spot – the quarterback’s blindside.I know Wade Phillips will bring heat. I just hope the guys up front can’t pick it up."
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