No, it probably has no correlation to the present, and exhibition games ultimately mean nothing. However, there are at least five takeaways from Thursday night's game that you can take to the bank.
Ndamukong Suh Is Still the Best Defensive Player
Suh was everywhere on Thursday night. But you can be forgiven if you didn't notice since he was uncharacteristically quiet (literally) on the field and loud off of it (unlike the rest of his team, but we'll get to that).
First, Suh has been admonished for not being a vocal leader and setting a demonstrative tone for the defense. No longer. There he was in the first half congregating the defense and giving some sort of speech after they had just forced another fumble. That's the type of leadership we have been looking for.
Then there was his play on the field. He set up one of Jason Jones' sacks by bull-rushing two guys back and collapsing the pocket. Once Brady felt the inward pressure, he shut down and Jones was able to finish him off. And that's just one example from a performance filled with similar plays.
Joique Bell has Locked Up the Backup Running Back Position
There's no more need to speculate. The amount of playing time in the first half said it all.
Bell is the second-string running back and Mikel Leshoure was one injury to Montell Owens away from getting cut.
As usual, Bell looked great. He constantly kept his legs moving, laid down a couple nice stiff arms and demonstrated an elusiveness that Leshoure couldn't match.
Leshoure, meanwhile, didn't see the field until the third quarter. He looked decent but has fallen behind Owens on the depth chart. That's not promising for a former second-rounder.
Sam Martin Might Have Been Worth a Draft Pick
If you've listened to my podcast (Lions Central Radio), you know that I have a problem the choice to draft punter Sam Martin in the fifth round.
After Thursday night, I'm starting to come around.
Martin was phenomenal. He was booming punts where appropriate, and then pinning the Patriots at the 1-yard line when given the opportunity. Plus, his kickoffs either reached halfway in the end zone or sailed 3 yards past it. There might have been a method to the madness, after all.
Reggie Bush Is the Real Deal
This shouldn't come as any shock. Bush was drafted with the second overall pick for a reason.
And he's exactly what the Lions needed.
He looked comfortable behind the first-team offensive line. He showed grit on his interior runs and allowed his blocks to set up thanks to his patience. Of particular note was the short screen he caught early in the game. He allowed the linebackers to over pursue and then let the linemen finish them off.
And then came the burst Lions fans have been looking for since Jahvid Best went down. He zoomed by multiple defenders during the key play for the first team's debut touchdown drive of the preseason.
Plus, there was the dump-off pass he took for a first down when he had no business doing so. He gave two guys the slip and spun his way past the marker.
Lastly, his impact was felt by the defense even when he didn't touch the ball. His effective running set up the play-action pass so well that the linebacker bit and allowed tight end Tony Scheffler to slip by for a touchdown.
Discipline Is Still an Issue
It can't all be positive.
The obvious wart on Detroit's 40-9 victory was the lack of discipline. If a Lion wasn't jawing after a play, he was hitting somebody.
There was a Nick Fairley late hit after one of the Lions' fumble recoveries. Then there was C.J. Mosley getting chippy after the whistle on the next fumble.
But the most egregious act was Willie Young taunting Tom Brady after an incomplete pass. Young refused to let a good play stand on its own. He had to add his own spice and it cost the Lions 15 yards.
And what did head coach Jim Schwartz do? Nothing much.
This team has the talent. It remains to be seen whether they have the brains.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Michigan native and has been covering the Detroit Lions for two years. He has been published at Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, CNN and other websites. He also co-hosts a podcast called Lions Central Radio with Nick Kostora that can be found on ITunes and Stitcher.
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- Ndamukong Suh
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