Can you believe it, Bills fans? We're just one pre-season game away from being able to truly focus on the regular season. Whether you believe this team is ready for the regular season or not, the end of the pre-season is an exciting step nonetheless.
Before we get too excited, however, let's talk about that final pre-season game - an important tune-up against the Detroit Lions. As usual we'll have game previews tomorrow; for now, let's get a little inside info on our opponent. Big thanks to Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit, the Detroit Lions blog here at SB Nation, for taking the time to give us the scoop on his Lions. (My questions in bold.)
Jon Kitna was a bit of a surprise last season, putting up some pretty astronomical numbers in his first season as a Lion. Is he a quarterback you think the Lions can win with, or do you envision the Drew Stanton era beginning sooner rather than later?
POD: The Drew Stanton era won't begin for a while, or I guess you could say it is currently on hold. Stanton is out for the year with an injury and is on the IR, so we'll have to wait for him to see the field, which is fine with me because I don't think he is that good anyways. As far as Kitna goes, if he keeps his head on straight for all four quarters of a game rather than just three, then the Lions definitely can win with him at the helm. It won't be easy, which is obvious, but it is possible. The biggest problem with Kitna last year was throwing away the fourth quarter by the way of bonehead plays. If that changes, then Detroit has a chance at a decent year.
What exactly is the situation with Kevin Jones? The Lions spent a lot of time this off-season shoring up the running back position; is Jones ever going to see significant playing time with Detroit again, or is he finished as a Lion?
POD: Kevin Jones suffered an injury last year that required surgery and put him on the shelf for quite some time. Detroit took all the precautions necessary to have an insurance policy in line, which is really what Tatum Bell is for. As of right now, we will find out what happens with Kevin Jones by Saturday. Since he is currently on the PUP list, he has to be activated by September 1st or will have to miss the first part of the season. I guess that will tell everyone if he is healthy enough to play or not.
The way I see it is as soon as Jones comes back, the job is his. There have been rumblings lately that Tatum Bell is disappointing quite a few people that thought he would step it up more than he has, so Jones should be the starter if he is healthy enough.
What really is interesting in this whole situation is the war of words going on between Jones and Bell recently. Bell made comments saying that the running back job is his, and that ticked Jones off. Jones then responded and it really started to get a little out of hand. I don't think the two dislike each other or anything, but Jones does seem frustrated.
How do you think Rod Marinelli's tenure is going so far? What are your impressions of him as a head coach, and do you think he's put together a future winning formula for his team?
POD: When Rod Marinelli came in as the Lions new head coach in 2006, I really wasn't expecting many good things. Marinelli didn't have experience as a head coach and it showed as the Lions went 3-13. I don't necessarily think Marinelli is putting together a team that could go on a long playoff run and win a Super Bowl, but they're on the right track at least. In the year and a half plus that Marinelli has been here, he has gone through and gotten rid of the players that don't fit the mindset he wants, which basically is a hard worker that will bring it every day. You can definitely see that there is a change in the minds of the players as far as optimism goes with Kitna predicting 10+ wins and everything like that, so I would say that this team is headed in the right direction.
Once again, a big thanks to Sean Yuille for the Bills/Lions appetizer. Buffalo beat the Lions in the pre-season last season on a fourth quarter touchdown bomb from Craig Nall to Andre' Davis; let's hope for a repeat this season!
Much more on what to expect from the Lions game in the next 24 hours.