Tonight at 7:00 pm ET the Detroit Lions get to host Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants at Ford Field for the team’s second preseason game. The Giants finished 3-13 which unfortunately was a huge decline from 2016 but helped them draft talented running back Saquon Barkley.
As I did last week for Detroit’s opener vs. the Raiders, I’ll continue my breakdown series focusing on today’s matchup with the Giants.
Offensively, the Lions need to figure out their backup quarterback situation. During Week 1 of the preseason, the Lions played veterans Jake Rudock and Matt Cassel. Now, we all know that Stafford is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league.
Remember when the Lions took on the Browns in 2009? Stafford was a rookie and took a devastating hit in which he injured his shoulder before throwing the game-winning TD pass on the next play. If that didn’t scream tough then I don’t know what would. Fast forward nine years and the Lions are in a dire need of a backup quarterback.
Signing Cassel was one of the smartest things the Lions did this offseason. Cassel has been in the league since 2005 and has played alongside Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, Tony Romo and Marcus Mariota. Cassel brings veteran leadership to the Lions. Since 2005, Cassel has recorded 17,449 yards on 1,571 completions, alongside 104 touchdowns.
Against the Raiders, Cassel completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 81 yards but failed to successfully throw a touchdown.
Fighting alongside Matt for the backup role is former Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock. Rudock was drafted in 2016 but hasn’t seen much playing time besides the game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2017. So far within his short career, Rudock has completed three of five passes for 24 yards.
Defensively, I am excited to watch what unfolds within the Lions secondary. I am only focusing on a couple of the cornerbacks because it is a tight race and a lot can change within the next couple weeks. But for now, the Lions has seen some impressive play from Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Mike Ford and DeShawn Shead. We know the starting to roles likely belong to Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson but after that, we aren’t so sure what to expect.
In the first preseason game against the Raiders, Shead recorded six total tackles, Ford had two, Agnew had a nice pass deflection along the sideline and Tabor recorded a tackle. I am not saying the race is just between the four but they stood out to me against the Raiders and what I was able to witness at training camp.
Now that I got the offensive and defensive players to watch out for against the Giants, its time to focus on the team’s dark horse.
I thoroughly believe the Lions could have a standout tight-end group with Michael Roberts and Luke Willson. I also know that both players really failed to impress in the preseason thus far but Michael Roberts has the raw skills and athleticism and this may be his time to shine. Roberts has accumulated four receptions for just 24 yards. With the Lions releasing Eric Ebron, its time for Roberts to step up and prove how talented he really is.
But the Lions also signed free agent Luke Willson this past offseason after Willson recently spent time with the Seahawks. Willson is tall and athletic but due to playing behind Jimmy Graham, he’s recorded just 153 yards and four touchdowns during his career.
Both tight ends are young and need experience, but with Stafford continuing to dominate within the NFC North, both should find success rather quickly.
Offensively, rookie Saquon Barkley will be a dominant force this season for the Giants. Remember the scene from the Power Puff Girls when the professor is mixing the ingredients? I believe this same thing happened with Barkley because he has the skills of Gurley, Johnson, and Bell all placed into one running back. Now I know all of those players have very similar styles and skillsets but it is true. Barkley is the next breed of running back with traits from all the previous running backs that have dominated the league for years.
During the first NFL game in which Barkley was able to play against the Cleveland Browns, we were able to see the explosive running style along with many other key attributes in which Barkley possesses. Barkley had four carries for 43 yards but showed off what is to come this season after breaking a couple tackles and gaining 39 yards.
Defensively, the acquisition of Alec Ogletree was an excellent pickup for the Giants. After the Giants traded Jason Pierre Paul to the Buccaneers for a third-round pick along with swapping fourth-round picks, the Giants were able to draft defensive tackle B.J. Hill and quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree brings excellent strength and power off the hedge for the Giants. During his career, Ogletree has 503 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns and 12 forced fumbles.
Ogletree is 26 years old and after seeing what he could do in Los Angeles for the Rams, we should be able to watch him generate the same dominant pressure in New York. The speed and power that Ogletree possess are unique and the play recognition he bestows is very impressive.
The Giants’ dark horse will be cornerback Eli Apple. Apple had a very impressive rookie season but faced a small decline his sophomore year. During his two year career, Apple has recorded 100 tackles, 15 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 3 fumble recoveries.
Apple has shown signs this preseason of his rookie self and if the Giants are pleased with his performance during training camp then I have a feeling we are in for another impressive season from the young man. Testing him against some of the top receivers within the NFL on the Lions and not to mention Matthew Stafford at the helm, the young defensive stud may be able to prove his dominance once again.
Make sure you tune in tonight as the Lions take on the Giants at Ford Field. It will be a very exciting matchup as both teams still have things to prove before the season officially begins.
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