Tonight at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions will square off in each team's preseason finale, bringing an extended summer schedule to a merciful conclusion for the home team.
To help us ready ourselves mentally for this evening's festivities, Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Lions, and some current Bills personnel that defected from the 2013 outfit of his favorite team.
Aside from the obvious discipline/penalty thing, what impression did the Jim Schwartz defense leave on Lions fans during and after his five years there?
The Lions built a pretty talented defensive line on paper, but it seemed to leave us wanting more on the field. The Lions didn't produce nearly as many sacks as they should have, although perhaps that was related to the lack of talent in the secondary and receivers being open for too long. At the same time, the "Wide 9" setup caused some issues in run defense until this past season, when the Lions really became quite dominant against the run (when not playing against LeSean McCoy in the snow, anyway).
Overall, I'd sum up Schwartz's defenses like this: there was a clear lack of talent for most of his time in Detroit, especially in the secondary. At the same time, though, it felt like tweaks to the scheme could have gotten more out of the players the Lions did have, but Schwartz didn't seem very flexible in that regard.
Landon Cohen came out of nowhere this summer and has made a strong case to make the Bills' roster. What do you remember of him from his two years in Detroit?
From what I remember of him, Cohen always performed quite well in the preseason, but that didn't necessarily translate to the regular season. He actually landed on our defensive "All-Overhyped Team" for promising preseasons not turning into anything during the regular season, but perhaps he's improved since leaving the Lions.
Were Lions fans surprised at how quickly Todd Downing landed on his feet after earning the reputation he did in his time working with Matthew Stafford?
It was surprising considering he had such a poor reputation by the end of his time in Detroit, at least among fans. Matthew Stafford regressed quite a bit these last couple seasons, and the Lions didn't seem to feel the need to change anything about his mechanics or footwork. One of the first things the Lions' new coaching staff did was work on improving his footwork, so it was disappointing that Downing, Scott Linehan and Jim Schwartz didn't feel the need to address that issue when they were here. Based on what we've heard, that lack of accountability was a common issue with the coaches and Stafford, though.
Joique Bell was originally a UDFA signing by the Bills, and fans here are still bitter the team cut him after a strong first preseason. How vital is he going to be to success on offense for the Lions this season?
He's going to be a big part of the Lions' new offensive scheme. Not only is he expected to have a bigger role at running back, but a lot of people actually think he should be starting over Reggie Bush. Given that Bush is bound to miss a game or two at some point this season, chances are Bell will be starting at some point, and even as the "backup" he will be a big part of their rushing attack and a big part of the passing game.
Eric Ebron was going to be the Bills' first-round pick ahead of Detroit if they couldn't land the trade they did to take Sammy Watkins. How has Ebron looked this preseason?
He's been steadily improving. Early in training camp, there was a lot of concern over his issues with drops, which we heard plenty about when he was first drafted. As of late, however, those concerns have quieted down as Ebron has become more familiar with the offense and more comfortable with the playbook. He's being used all over the field (in the traditional tight end spot on the line, in the backfield as an H-back, in the slot and out wide), and it's clear that the Lions are trying to bring him along slowly in order to not overwhelm him too much with their new scheme.