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Five Questions for the Foes: Previewing the Lions

The Liona, if you will.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are back from their bye this weekend, and Jim Schwartz is headed back to his old stomping grounds in Detroit. Should be a real good game. To get a better perspective on the Lions, I reached out to Christopher Lemieux of the great Pride of Detroit. Here’s what we talked about!

1. Marvin Jones has been a revelation in your passing game so far. I expected him to transition well, but he's playing like an absolute stud. What does he do well? And what, if anything, does he not do so well?

Even back in camp, Marvin Jones had a great grasp of the offense and was always on the same page as Matthew Stafford. He's generating offense at a level much like Calvin Johnson was. I certainly didn't see this coming in from him, although he did slow down a bit in the Chicago game.

His strengths are definitely in yards after completion. Stafford isn't throwing him a ton of deep balls like he would with Calvin Johnson (although Jones still gets a few of those and catches them reliably) but Jones can really get downfield in a hurry once he catches a pass. He's also a toe-tapping machine and he can beat you near the sidelines repeatedly. I'm a freak and the toe-tap is my favorite part of football so he's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Despite this, he's not that advanced of a route runner. He generally gets some rather simplistic routes, and he doesn't really get a lot of good separation either. He lives on those contested balls, although so far he's been the winner in that regard.

2. Last year Ezekiel Ansah had a damn field day against the Eagles' offensive line, piling up 3.5 sacks and generally mauling everyone into oblivion. What should we expect from the Lions' pass rush this season against Carson Wentz? Is it the kind of rush that can handle a QB who rolls out effectively?

Well, you will very likely not see Ansah.

That said, Kerry Hyder has been a rare find this year and he's generated quite a few sacks when the Lions do get some rare chances. We're not totally sold on Hyder yet - we think he's the beneficiary of some small sample sizes and good positions - but with Wallace Gilberry going and Ansah still out he's probably going to see more than enough time in the defensive end rotation now, if not outright start.

3. I noticed you asked this in an article the other day, so excuse me for the redundancy, but I have to ask: what the hell is going on with Golden Tate? He has 14 catches for 95 yards and no touchdowns in four games after catching a combined 3,000 yards and 15 TDs in the previous three years. What gives?

I think one of our writers actually floated a theory a day or two ago that I actually really buy into. He pointed out that Tate's been used a lot in these rather complex routes that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter likes to run, like shifting him across the entire backfield before the snap or running any number of misdirection plays.

But it's complex, to say the least. He's still playing as hard as he can but he's struggling in this new era. I mentioned scheme is probably playing a factor and we should include that it's probably taking time to adapt properly (and it certainly was a factor when he ran the completely wrong route last week for a terrible interception), and there's the notion that he's probably being treated as the top receiver and getting better corners put on him (those same corners that would be on Calvin Johnson the year prior). After that, he's certainly had some drops, which are uncharacteristic to be sure.

4. Ameer Abdullah went down after Week 2 (I know, because he was on my fantasy team) and the Lions have 116 rush yards in the last two games combined. What's the state of the Lions' run game?

Basura. Total unenviable basura. Dwayne Washington went down too, and while he'll be back he probably won't be 100%, and if he does miss a game that means that's pretty much going to put this puppy in the dirt. Theo Riddick can get yards here and there but he is not and probably will never be a credible threat out of the backfield to run for numerous yards; his specialty is receptions and he does that very well, but not running. Zach Zenner is not good.

But the fact that no one can really run the ball effectively is such an old story with Detroit I barely notice.

5. Not to kick you when you're down, but... the Lions lost to the Brian Hoyer-led Bears. Sitting at 1-3, what are fans' expectations for the rest of the season? Is it already a lost year?

The joke is on the Bears. Now they will talk themselves into believing Brian Hoyer is a credible quarterback and it will set them back even further. Really, we're playing the long con here.

Lions fans generally embrace the death drive whenever possible and it's onset has come rather early this year. There are no expectations, merely demands. Fire Caldwell, fire this other guy, trade Stafford(?), start rookie practice squad former Michigan Wolverine heartthrob Jake Rudock(???), force the Ford family to sell the team to someone who knows how to win. This all may seem very severe and would just makes matters far worse, but it's the usual cadence of the Lions fanbase in grief. It means very little but it's so cacophonous that it's hard to get them to talk about anything else. Rest assured, 90% of them will still watch every game.

I'm not one who is optimistic myself - I think I picked this team to go 6-10 before the season began - but I personally just find judgments about expectations to be silly. Barring the fact that the Lions were winless through almost half of a season last year and still found seven wins, it's far too early to just call it a wrap (At 1-3 many teams aren't packing up for home either, although the state of Detroit's roster is far more tenuous). But on a more basic level, I just want to watch some football. I get 16 games a year, maybe one more if the Lions go to the playoffs. It's gone in a split second and then I have to waste the rest of the year pining for football again. I don't want to waste my time sitting in disgust about some lost season or whatever when we're only four games in. They probably won't do anything productive, but whatever.

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