The Lions are in desperate need of a quick start to being the 2013 regular season, and right now, they’re not set up to pull that off. Their biggest problem revolves around Calvin Johnson’s absence from the lineup and the extended problems that causes.
There’s no doubt that Johnson is the Lions single biggest offensive threat. Johnson sets up the Lions’ passing game by pulling coverage off everyone else on the field. Teams are simply paranoid that he’ll beat them deep, and even when he’s blanketed, he still often finds ways to get the ball.
Johnson missed his second consecutive game last night due to the effects of a bruised knee. Had the game been a regular season affair, it’s likely he would have played, but the Lions are being cautious, and that’s understandable. Still, they need him to get playing time with the offense, and that hasn’t happened much this preseason.
The Lions open the season by hosting the Vikings; then they go on the road to play the Cardinals and Redskins. In years past, that would have been a piece of cake for most teams, but all three of those teams look to be very competitive this season, and all three teams can score points.
The problem here isn’t that the Lions are being cautious with Johnson; I mean really, who can blame them? The problem is that even with some playing time in week four of preseason action, Johnson won’t be able to work off all the rust, and if his knee is still bothering him, he won’t be at 100%. The Lions simply can’t afford to lose their opener against the Vikings. It’s a huge divisional game that could play a big role in tie-breakers down the road.
It’s a common opinion that preseason games don’t matter, but they do have an impact on the regular season for better, or in this case, for worse.