8 quick takeaways from the Lions preseason loss to the Falcons

·4 min read

The preseason kicked off on Friday night with an entertaining matchup between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. The visiting Falcons prevailed, 27-23, on a late TD after the Lions couldn’t hold onto a lead with two minutes to go.

Here are some quick first impressions from the Lions in the exhibition opener.

Starting OL dominated

(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

The starters played one drive. It was all we needed to see from the offensive line.

A 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive saw some truly exceptional work from all five starting offensive linemen. Other than a rough first play, the line completely dominated the Falcons’ starting defense. They almost made it look too easy.

Aidan Hutchinson was legit

Hutchinson played the first defensive drive and the No. 2 overall pick did not disappoint. He recorded tackles on the first two plays, chasing down a scrambling Marcus Mariota from across the field on the first play. But it’s play No. 2 that really pops.

Hutchinson ducked under veteran left tackle Jake Matthews, and slammed the Falcons RB to the turf for a 2-yard loss. It was a fantastic display of quickness and power. Later in the drive, Hutchinson drew an offensive holding call from the right guard, showing his positional versatility and ability to make an impact beyond just lining up outside and rushing the passer.

Starting LBs flopped

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With Alex Anzalone sitting the game out, Derrick Barnes and Malcolm Rodriguez got the start at linebacker for the Lions. It did not go well for either youngster.

Barnes had a very poor game outside of one play, a well-timed A-gap blitz that resulted in a tackle behind the line. He was late to the point of attack and slow in coverage, and twice he attacked the wrong hole in the run game.

Rodriguez had some positive moments but was the apparent culprit on a couple of QB runs where he got too far up the field. His best moment came on the Falcons’ first kickoff return, where he recorded his only tackle.

The Tom Kennedy show

Wide receiver Tom Kennedy put a lot more air into his roster bubble with a tour de force performance. Kennedy led the Lions with eight receptions on 12 targets, netting 104 yards.

Kennedy caught six of those passes in the second half, where he and third-string QB David Blough showed off a keen connection. His route running and toughness after the catch stood out for No. 85.

The OL depth was ugly

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For as awesome as the starting offensive line played, their backups were the complete opposite.

It was a rough night for the reserves, especially at tackle. Top swing tackle Matt Nelson got abused in pass protection, and he was better than his own backup, undrafted rookie Obinna Eze. The collective unit could not protect Tim Boyle or David Blough and also had issues sustaining run blocks.

Devin Funchess helps himself

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Funchess is hoping to make the Lions at tight end. He has not played since the 2019 season, when he was a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.

Funchess caught all four of his targets on Friday night, including a sweet TD snag on a nice fade route from Boyle,

No other tight end had more than one reception with starter T.J. Hockenson sitting out.

Tackling remains a problem

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Arguably the biggest issue–of many–for the Lions defense in 2021 was poor tackling. In the first preseason game of 2022, it did not look much better.

The linebackers get the most fingers pointed at them, but the starting secondary also struggled at tackling. Slot CB AJ Parker blew an easy tackle early that helped the Falcons score on their opening drive. Fellow CB Jeff Okudah had two very nice form tackles but also slipped off another. The safeties really struggled at tackling and run game awareness up and down the roster, with starter Tracy Walker the one notable exception.

Kicking was perfect

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The Lions have a kicking battle going on between Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson. The first game did nothing to separate the two.

Patterson made both his field goal attempts, from 27 and 28 yards. Seibert also nailed his one attempt from 46. Seibert has generally held the edge with better leg strength on kickoffs, but Patterson boomed one of his kickoffs eight yards deep into the end zone.

No concern about punter Jack Fox, who had one attempt for 65 yards.

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Story originally appeared on Lions Wire