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Detroit Lions news, articles and opinions

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass Photo: Raka18 via Flickr

The first game of the 2015 season started off well for the Lions. Detroit may not have dominated in time of possession but thanks to Glover Quin‘s first career pick six, they took a 21-10 lead into halftime against the San Diego Chargers.

After the half, the offense struggled to move the ball and the defense wore down as a result. San Diego dictated the pace of the game and put together some great drives totaling 38 minutes in time of possession vs Detroit’s 22. A last minute surge wasn’t enough for Detroit to overcome 30 unanswered points and ultimately fell 33-28 to the Chargers.

Here’s some of the positives and negatives to take away from the Lions loss.

MVP – Ameer Abdullah, RB

Abdullah wasted no time in making his presence felt in the NFL, scoring on a 24 yard touchdown on the Lions first possession. Finishing the day with 11 touches (7 rush, 4 rec) for 94 yards and a touchdown, Abdullah also contributed as the Lions primary kick returner and averaged 35 yards per return, breaking one for 48 yards. If there’s one thing to be taken away from the game, it’s that Abdullah looks like he could be a special talent for Detroit going forward.

Goat – James Ihedigbo, S

There is plenty of blame to be spread around for the Lions loss. LB Josh Bynes was over-matched and was picked on for much of the first half, as was CB Rashean Mathis, who allowed 7-for-7 receptions to wide receivers in the second half. However, the poor play of James Ihedigbo stood out all day.

Ighedigbo’s name was not even called until late in the half when he targeted the head of a receiver who was already on the ground, drawing a personal foul penalty. The trend continued as Ighedigbo seemed intent to lead with the crown of his helmet on late hits. Tackling and pursuit were also a problem for Ighedigbo as he always seemed to coast into the play as it was ending and “led” Detroit with three missed tackles on the day.

Ighedigbo has the look of a veteran rapidly declining. I expect him to be on a short leash after already being benched late last season for poor play.

Look for S Isa Abdul-Quddus to fill in admirably if given the chance.

Game Notes

WR’s Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate are non-factors

Johnson and Tate combined to catch 50% of their targets for 6 receptions and 63 yards. That is not how we envisioned the two coming out of the gate, especially Tate who looked in mid-season form in preseason action. I have yet to see both receivers perform well while on the same field and hope that they can learn to coexist in the Lions offense.

Eric Ebron rebounded from an early drop to lead the Lions in receiving, catching 4 of 5 targets for 53 yds and an 18-yard touchdown.

QB Matthew Stafford battles through injury, leaky OLine

Stafford, like most of the Lions, wasn’t particularly sharp in the second half. He finished the day 19-for-30 for 246 yds with 2 TDs and 2 INTs and fell to 0-20 on the road against teams with a winning record.

On a play in the third quarter, Stafford appeared to suffer an elbow injury to his throwing arm, hitting his elbow on a defender’s helmet on a follow-through. He wore an arm sleeve for the remainder of the game. Expect updates during the week.

The day didn’t start off well for the offensive line with the Lions making starting RT LaAdrian Waddle and RG Larry Warford inactive. The line had trouble giving Stafford the time he needed to read his second and third options. Waddle’s replacement Cornelius Lucas had trouble holding the edge against San Diego’s pass rush, giving up a huge hit that led to an interception and was responsible for four of the Lions nine pressures. Riley Reiff gave up a sack on a blown assignment in the first half and allowed another pressure. Rookie Laken Tomlinson also under-performed giving up a QB hit and two pressures. A bad performance overall by the offensive line.

Looking forward – Week 2 – Lions @ Vikings

The bottom line is that the Lions need all hands on deck. They sorely missed LB DeAndre Levy today and would benefit from getting the right side of their o-line back. They may be forced to lean on their ground game more than expected if they can’t get Waddle and Warford back in the lineup against Minnesota. Stafford’s health is a major factor as well but I expect him to play through any pain.